The Results Aren’t Pretty – There or Here
September 11, 2012, will be remembered as the day when Islamic jihadists attacked sovereign U.S. territory for a second time in 11 years.
While nowhere near the horrific scale of the 9/11/2001 attacks, make no mistake: this date in history is as much a rallying cry for terrorism in the Middle East as it is a unifying point for U.S. national pride.
Instead of commercial aircraft used as fuel-laden missiles, the attacks of 9/11/12 took the form of an unruly mob, or at least the appearance of an unruly mob. Evidence uncovered since suggests that the unruly mob in Benghazi, Libya, was well-armed and logistically prepared to overthrow the U.S. consulate.
Ambassador Christopher Stevens, and three other U.S. embassy employees, died as a result of this attack. Two of them were former Navy SEALS, the nation's most highly-trained special warriors. Their job was to defend and protect Ambassador Stevens.
Early news reports gave the impression that this was a mob of fundamentalist Muslims, regular people outraged at an Internet video mocking Mohammed, the Prophet of Islam.
Random street violence and civil unrest leading to embassy invasions is not unheard of by the U.S. Foreign Service. Our history in Iran following the fall of the Shah in 1978-79 is still fresh in many memories.
In a confusing and embarrassing series of non-denial denials, Obama Administration officials tried to spin this latest violence as a random outburst based on a little known and hardly viewed Internet video blaspheming the Prophet Mohammed.
Unfortunately, the evidence suggests otherwise. Even the new leaders in Libya and Egypt, the site of the worst violence, claimed that attacks were coordinated to align with September 11, the high water mark for jihadists and terrorists.
A Libyan al Qaeda splinter group went so far as to claim credit for the attack that led to the four deaths.
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice also tried to cast the embassy assault as the byproduct of an angry mob. In order to believe this utter fantasy, you'd have to subscribe to the idea that rocket-propelled grenades, shoulder-launched missiles and gas-filled bottles are common instruments of civil unrest, that people who hear about a poorly produced Internet video mocking their prophet immediately grab the rockets and grenades and head for the village square.
In fact, I'd sooner trust local leaders on this than I would the president's surrogates. Right now, his people have too much to lose to be truly objective. Months ago, foreign policy was their "gimme." They knew they had their work cut out domestically.
With a relatively stagnant economy and bleak jobs forecast, President Barack Obama needed to keep a lid on the international scene. His worst nightmare was having to divide his attention between the economy and a foreign affairs crisis.
Unfortunately, somebody in the West Wing forgot to tell Iran, Israel and pretty much the rest of the Muslim world that President Obama needed calm around the globe.
It doesn't fit the campaign narrative. Remember the president telling us how important it was to vanquish the Bush/McCain doctrine? He told us we needed a more thoughtful and deliberate approach to dealing with these issues. The Bushies and their neo-conservative buddies were essentially warmongers, lacking the Obama wisdom and balance.
So, now, two months out from the general election, the Obama Administration has a whole passel of crises, a cornucopia of trouble so complex that no easy solutions appear evident.
Israel is tired of watching the inevitable Iranian march toward the completion of their nuclear enrichment program. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak have the will of their people behind them.
The people of Israel know the fear of life lived by the trigger of a bomb. They won't rest if it means trading a conventional explosive for a nuclear one.
Now radical Islamists see a path to contaminating Western influence in places like Egypt, Libya, Yemen and the Sudan. From the Mediterranean to Malaysia, angry mobs chanting anti-American slogans are all one Molotov cocktail away from coming over the walls.
President Obama is stymied. On one hand, he never wanted this fight. According to his personal history, he is essentially a man of peace. At the same time, his preening over the assault on the Bin Laden compound and the barrage of drone attacks in the last four years adds fuel to the embassy rallies.
Will the president be able to be the strong, confident leader the world demands, or will the campaign dictate a more nuanced approach?
Can GOP nominee Mitt Romney fare any better? His penchant for embarrassing stumbles abroad continues. It seems as if the only thing that fits better in his mouth than his gleaming white teeth is his foot.
As conservative talk radio king Rush Limbaugh so aptly put it, any other Republican would have had this in the bag by now. Not Mitt, though. Stumbling from one silly statement to the next, Team Obama should be thanking their lucky stars. Mitt's the campaign gift that keeps on giving!