Case in point...
When a U.S. Embassy gets stormed by protesters overseas, it’s usually a matter of public concern. It might occasion headlines and commentary. Even debate between presidential candidates.
Unless one of the candidates is President Barack Obama and the other is Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Then, everything changes.
In the immediate aftermath of the deadly attacks on U.S. diplomatic installations in Egypt and Libya, the political debate fastened on the propriety of Romney criticizing the administration for its initial response.
(You know - important stuff.)
Forget the dead body of our ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, who had been instrumental in aiding the rebellion. Forget the desecration of the embassy’s flag in Cairo. Forget the question of what we’re going to do to find the perpetrators or respond to two governments unable or unwilling to fulfill their most basic international responsibilities.
(*JUST SHAKING MY HEAD*)
The reports from earlier this week about how Obama would use foreign policy as cudgel against Romney had barely faded when the media pack turned around and declared politics must stop at the water’s edge - thank you very much.
The old complaint about Romney was that he didn’t talk about foreign policy. The newly minted complaint about Romney was that he did talk about foreign policy. He gets it coming and going, and everywhere in between.
As "demonstrators" gathered on Tuesday - supposedly in response to an anti-Islamic film promoted by Pastor Terry Jones of Florida - the U.S. Embassy in Cairo released a statement that was atrociously weak and unabashedly stupid.
The release condemned “the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims - as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions.”
Further, it rejected “actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”
The first thing to say about this is that it shamefully aped the reasoning of efforts to restrict free speech in order to protect Muslim sensibilities.
As Nina Shea of the Hudson Institute wrote of the statement, “It essentially upholds the Muslim anti-blasphemy standard that the Egyptian government applies in its ban on ‘insult to heavenly religions,’ and that has long been championed by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in U.N. resolutions calling for the universal criminalization of religious defamation and in its campaign against all forms of ‘Islamophobia.’”
The second is that if the statement was meant to appease the mob... it didn’t work.
(Mobs usually don’t check out the websites of their targets on the off-chance that something just posted there might dissuade them from trying to burn the place down.)
The embassy reaffirmed its statement via Twitter even after protesters had stormed the compound.
At one point, the embassy had to tweet, pathetically, “Of course we condemn breaches of our compound; we’re the ones actually living through this.”
FOLKS... YA CAN'T MAKE THIS SHIT UP...
Late Tuesday night, Romney condemned the thoroughly condemnable embassy press release. In a rapid confirmation of Romney’s wisdom in doing so, the White House threw the embassy’s statement under the bus: “It doesn’t reflect the views of the U.S. government.”
WELL, FOLKS... HE DID!
Overnight, we learned that not one, but four embassy officials, including the ambassador, had been killed in the Libya attack. On Wednesday morning, Romney made a statement and took questions from reporters. He confounded and outraged the assemblage - and liberal pundits everywhere - by not backing off his criticism of the press release that had been implicitly seconded by the White House.
No one should get the vapors over Romney’s critique. Matters of war and peace are inherently political and should always be fodder for political campaigns. Does anyone remember the Vietnam War?
(I’m sure Lyndon B. Johnson and Richard M. Nixon would have loved a rule that put debating it off limits. Instead, the protesters and politicians who opposed the war have been lionized for four straight decades.)
In 1980, the foreign-policy debate didn’t stop because Americans were held hostage in Tehran.
Nor did it stop in 2004 because Americans were fighting and dying in Iraq.
Sen. John Kerry used the occasion of the 1,000th death in Iraq to attack everything about the war. One of his ads included the graphic: “2 Americans beheaded just this week.”
In the normal course of things, a state of crisis elevates the foreign-policy debate. While maddening and tragic, the embassy attacks won’t have the enduring significance of Vietnam or Iraq. They do shine a light, though, on the deteriorating U.S. position in the broader Middle East.
The signature Obama foreign policy success has been killing people - Osama bin Laden with a Special Forces raid and a bunch of other Al Qaeda terrorists with drones. Otherwise, we are worse off than when Obama took office.
Relations with Israel are poisonous.
We lost an ally in Egypt, and the revolution there may yet prove Iran 1979 redux.
Iraq is sliding into the orbit of Tehran and perhaps back into chaos.
Iran is closer to a nuclear weapon.
MAYBE THEY ARE... MAYBE THEY AREN'T... THE EVIDENCE IS CONTRADICTORY AND UP FOR DEBATE.
We have made progress in the Afghanistan War but may throw it away with an arbitrary withdrawal, and the Pakistanis hate us more than ever.
AS TO THIS SUPPOSED "PROGRESS" IN AFGHANISTAN... BULLSHIT!
Some of this is the president’s fault, some of it is the drift of events. But it’s not the record of a modern-day Metternich.
If this isn’t the time to talk about this record... when is the right time?
AND ON THAT ONE... LOWRY IS DEAD-ON RIGHT!