In all of this frenzy of demonstrations and riots and killing of four Americans, to include our ambassador to Libya, and of charges by presidential contender Mitt Romney of the Obama administration being too apologetic and not tough enough it seems to me the one who comes out looking best is Secretary of State (and maybe President come 2016) Hillary Clinton.
(As I am writing all of this, the news is that there are anti-U.S. and/or anti-Western protests all over the Islamic world today.)
I think her statements over the past couple of days have been the clearest and most logical (President Obama has done well too). Now that I have had a day or more to think on it I can’t blame Romney for wanting to chime in — he is in what appears to be a close race. But when you read over what he and his Republican Party people have said on foreign policy, particularly Libya, in the past, well it has been all over the board. It is easy to see they are just against anything Obama does, not matter what.
It is also clear that all the demonstrations and rioting are a result of a combination of things. While some of it may be true anger over the internet dissemination of what probably could be described as a hate video or anti-Muslim propaganda piece, made by some obscure film maker, it is also the result of anti-West rabblerousers who want to stir up the masses for their own desires of power. Also, apparently a lot of people in other parts of the world have little to do — I suppose they are poor and unemployed and uneducated, and therefore they use up their energies in these demonstrations. In addition we have to accept the fact that free speech is not a concept shared all over the world.
Another thing we should realize is that while we like to promote democracy, we never know what we will get. Right now we have a weak government in Libya after the deposing of the dictator Gaddafi, which we supported. When it became apparent that our long-time ally in Egypt, the dictator Mubarak, was going to be deposed, our government jumped on the bandwagon of the Arab Spring as a democracy movement. But then they put in the Muslim Brotherhood, who has ties or sympathy with Islamic extremists who are anti-America/anti-West.
To jump around here, today the German embassy in Sudan is under attack. Some say it is over that film and the fact that far-right, neo Nazi groups in Germany have insulted the Islamic prophet Mohammad and that a few years ago German Chancellor Angela Merkel gave an award to a Danish cartoonist who drew cartoons insulting Mohammad (I did not read what specifically the award was for).
Getting back to Hillary:
While Romney got antsy and cancelled an embargo on a prepared statement (in other words not say what he wanted to say about the deaths of the Americans and Obama’s response until the anniversary of 9/11 had passed) and accused the current administration in Washington, well Obama, of apologizing rather than condemning the acts (not exactly true by the way), Secretary of State Clinton calmly issued a statement or statements both condemning the infamous video and the violence that followed (and so did Obama himself).
Much later, after being roundly criticized as shooting from the hip, or as the president said, “shooting first and aiming later”, Romney tried to say that really both he and the current administration were in agreement. He said Obama had backed away from earlier, pre-death of the Americans (the rioting having started before that) statements regretting the video, which the U.S. government had nothing to do with.
In an address to one group (according to a news story I have read), Mrs. Clinton said (paraphrase): All religions have been subjected to insults. The response to such insults is what separates those of true faith from those who would use religion as an excuse to commit violent acts.
In my original post on all of this I erroneously wrote that an American preacher who had earlier gained notoriety for threatening to burn copies of the Koran had produced the infamous video (which, incidentally I have not seen). Upon further reading, I guess it was that he showed the video or was going to or something like that to an audience. Some people make money on hate. The real producer is believed to live in the Los Angeles area and may not go by his real name and at last report was asking for police protection now that he has managed to stir so many people up and perhaps indirectly cause the death of the Americans. Actually there is suspicion that the Libyan incident was a coordinated attack by a group associated or sympathetic to Al Qaeda, purposely timed on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11.
Writing about things having to do with breaking news is always difficult and fraught with danger of getting everything screwed up. In my original post I was on my truck driving job (stationary at the time) playing the unloading waiting game. But I am a news and opinion junkie and I could not help myself — I had to say something, maybe kind of like candidate Romney (he has more at stake).
I am not necessarily a fan of the Obama foreign policy, but right now I certainly feel more comfortable with his administration’s approach than the seemingly wild and sometimes incoherent or contradictory line of Romney and the GOP. Actually, Romney up until now has not emphasized foreign policy.
Sometimes something akin to isolationism appeals to me, but I then realize that the U.S. depends upon world trade (it has from its very beginnings) and that it is the world’s superpower and if we let that go the void will be filled by another power and we are probably toast.
I would prefer a foreign policy where we try to do good, don’t get too carried away, and say very little.
One more thing: There is a whole industry on radio of so-called right-wing talk show hosts, who basically make a living out of sounding off about anything against what they call liberal or socialist (and sometimes they equate this with environmentalism) and anti-capitalist ideas. Right now their thrust seems to be anything anti-Obama. Some of these people may have some relationship to the historical conservative movement in the nation, but for the most part I think they are commercial opportunists who have found out you can make big money running down people by calling them anti-American. And in some cases, I get by their tone, they were incensed in college by other students or professors who seemed to espouse ideas counter to their own upbringing. It is often uncomfortable to be around people who may not think as you do.
Anyway, the other day on the Laura Ingraham Show she played a tape of what was purported to be an open microphone at a Romney press conference before it got under way. If I understood things right, the reporters were discussing among themselves the need to ask Romney if he had been a little hasty in releasing a written statement against the Obama administration’s reaction to the crisis in Libya when events were in the midst of unfolding. She suggested the “liberal media” was conspiring against Romney. Well, it does kind of sound like pack journalism. But as long as they do the same to the other side, I guess that is the way it goes (but of course she does not think that they do).
What follows is my previous post on all of this:
Well, it appears that in my own haste to get this posted I either misread or read an erroneous report about the source of the infamous video that some say got all those people stirred up in the Mideast and Northern Africa. Right now there does not seem to be a clear identity, although there are stories on the web. So anyway, I deleted that reference in this updated version of this post. Right now I’ll let the rest of what I said stand. I need to read more about all of this (my real work just seems to get in the way). I’ll probably post more within the next 24 hours.
“Slate”, the online magazine, provides a timeline for the events: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/map_of_the_week/2012/09/libya_u_s_embassy_attack_an_interactive_timeline_of_the_violence_in_the_middle_east_.html
I didn’t blog anything about the 11th anniversary of 9/11 because I was too busy at my paying job that puts food on the table and provides shelter and so on and I was tired too. I felt like I ought to say something. But sometimes it’s better not to say anything — that’s what hapless GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney may have found out.
He is being roundly condemned for jumping the gun and going way overboard in his criticism of his opponent President Obama over the dreadful killings of our ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, and three staffers, which came as mob violence rocked Libya and Egypt on the 9/11 anniversary. An attack on our embassy in Libya may have been planned by terrorists, American authorities are speculating.
Both Obama supporters and non-supporters have condemned Romney (I’m sure not everyone thinks he acted wrongly). He broke his own vow to stay silent on politics for the day in commemoration of 9/11 and he also broke a taboo of stretching politics beyond the water’s edge (which I imagine is broken all the time).
Romney accused the Obama administration of apologizing as its first act in the crisis. Actually what he was criticizing was a statement or statements made before the deaths of our people, which he characterized as apologetic. The Obama administration tried to assure people in the region that we deplore intolerance of others’ beliefs. But, as I understand it, this was before the deaths or before they were reported (although I’m sure we still deplore the intolerance, seeing as we were affected by it).
Since posting this I have read more. In a New York Times story there seemed to be some indication that the Obama administration had not approved conciliatory statements made by the embassy and that even the embassy staff had second thoughts. I think maybe the Obama administration favors diplomacy when possible, whereas a Romney administration, by Romney’s own indication, might prefer a tougher approach. Although I must say the continuing fighting in Afghanistan and the killing of Osama Bin Laden seem like fairly rough stuff to me. Oh, and all those drone strikes too. Doesn’t seem too apologetic to me.
As I understand it, the outbreak of mob violence was in reaction to the posting on the internet of a video critical of Islam. I have not seen it, but I understand it is full of hate. UPDATE: (9-13-12)To make matters worse, there are now reports that the sound was dubbed without the actors even knowing what the film was going to say.
Many observers, on the right and left and middle, I have read, feel that Romney’s too quick and clumsy reaction shows that he is out of his depth in foreign policy.
He may have done a good job at saving the Olympics all those years ago and he may have made millions, billions at Bain Capital, but he sounds dangerous when it comes to diplomacy and foreign policy.
Barack Obama may have been a novice too (he wanted to sit down and talk to that crazy Ahmadinejad in Iran). But Obama has Hillary and she seems to be one clever lady when it comes to foreign relations.