- Posted September 13, 2012 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Turbulence, violence in the Middle East
Obama’s Craven Response to Acts of War
“Sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind” is the biblical injunction. And when the powers that be try to excel Chamberlain in appeasement and undertake Don Quixote adventures, then what happens is but a natural reaction. Imagine your embassy is ransacked and you apologize. This would give further impetus to the goons; and that is what happened. The ransacking of US embassy in Egypt followed not anger, but an abject, humiliating apology and it was followed swiftly by well organized murder of US ambassador in Libya Chris Stevens, and three other embassy in a rocket attack after the diplomat's car was targeted in the eastern city of Benghazi. And the process continues, the latest is storming of US embassy in Yemen. These are in facts acts of war- a war being waged by the Muslim fundamentalist on US, on human dignity, on civilized conventions and in fact on all right thinking people; and the response is one of cowardly muted half-hearted protests that lack the bite necessary.
These incidents show the absolute failure of Obama’s policy of appeasement. The response of the world top super power is that of a craven, weakling nation, unworthy of US. The assassination on 28 June 1914 of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, the heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, by a Yugoslav nationalist in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina was the proximate trigger of the war. It resulted in a Habsburg ultimatum against the Kingdom of Serbia. Several alliances formed over the previous decades were invoked, so within weeks the major powers were at war; via their colonies, the conflict soon spread around the world. And here, beyond the pious statements, there is no strong reaction. The ghost of Chamberlain must be happy, that it has found a worthy partner in kowtowing to enemies.
Egypt’s transition to a democratic system has come crashing down, as expected. Notwithstanding all expression of concern, this could not have happened with the connivance of the authorities. It is learnt that Al Zawahri personally ordered Al Qaeda to murder US Ambassador Stevens.
The US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens and three staff members at the US consulate in Benghazi were deliberately murdered Tuesday night Sept 11 just after memorial ceremonies were held in America for the victims of the 9/11 outrage.
Far from being a spontaneous raid by angry Islamists, it was a professionally executed terrorist operation by a professional Al Qaeda assassination team, whose 20 members acted under the orders of their leader Ayman al Zawahri after special training. They were all Libyans, freed last year from prisons where they were serving sentences for terrorism passed during the late Muammar Qaddafi’s rule.
In a video tape released a few hours before the attack, Zawahri called on the faithful to take revenge on the United States for liquidating one of the organization’s top operatives, Libyan-born Abu Yahya al-Libi in June by a US drone in northwestern Pakistan. Its release was the “go” signal for the hit team to attack the US diplomats in Benghazi.
To mask their mission, they stormed the consulate on the back of a violent protest by hundreds of Islamists against a film said to insult Prophet Muhammed produced by a Florida real estate agent called Sam Bacile, who has been described as of Israeli origin.
The operation is rated by terror experts as the most ambitious outrage al Qaeda has pulled off in the last decade. According to some ources, the gunmen split into two groups of 10 each and struck in two stages:
1. They first fired rockets at the consulate building on the assumption that the ambassador’s bodyguards would grab him, race him out of the building and drive him to a safe place under the protection of the US secret service;
2. The second group was able to identify the getaway vehicle and the ambassador’s armed escort and lay in wait to ambush them. The gunmen then closed in and killed the ambassador and his bodyguards at point blank range.
The investigation launched by US counter-terror and clandestine services is focusing on finding out why no clue was picked up of the coming attack by any intelligence body and how al Qaeda’s preparations for the attack which took place inside Libya went unnoticed by any surveillance authority.
President Barack Obama's flawed approach to the Middle East and his failure to assert American leadership throughout the Arab Spring resulted in reduced American influence in the region and set the stage for assaults on U.S. diplomatic posts led by Islamic extremists. The attacks on three U.S. diplomatic posts were directly related to the loss of American leadership and prestige throughout the Middle East because of the Obama administration's failed policies in that region, governments in Egypt and Libya as well as the Obama administration bear responsibility for the deteriorating security environment that led to the attacks.
The events in Egypt and Libya show the failure of the Egyptian and Libyan governments to uphold their obligations to keep our diplomatic missions safe and secure and the regard in which the United States is held under President Obama in these two countries.
The Obama administration has failed to develop, much less communicate, a coherent or consistent approach to protecting American interests throughout the Arab Spring. The events in Egypt and Libya are part of a broader story of what he characterized as the administration's lack of leadership in responding to the Syria crisis, a mishandling of the U.S.-Israel relationship, and a failed engagement policy with Iran.
Tuesday's attacks are not isolated incidents, but rather are part of an increasing and disturbing trend of anti-American incidents that illustrate the administration's failed policies. The region's in turmoil and this president has not provided effective leadership. It's a pattern and the pattern sees the U.S. with reduced influence, reduced respect, reduced capacity to protect its interests and the security is at risk because of the greatest danger, which is a nuclear breakout by Iran.
President George Bush had urged deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to move toward a more democratic posture, but President Obama abandoned the Freedom Agenda and we are seeing today a whirlwind of tumult in the Middle East in part because these nations did not embrace the reforms that could have changed the course of their history, in a more peaceful manner.
In Egypt, the Obama administration stood by Mubarak for too long, thereby alienating the revolutionaries and reducing U.S. capacity to influence the new government. In Libya, the administration "led from behind" and was dragged into intervening by Britain and France, and then failed to follow up sufficiently to support their transition to a democratic society. It is ,as feared, the rule of fundamentalists in both the countries.
How is Obama’s policy in the Middle East working at this juncture, two and a half years into the president’s term? Two news items reveal the very dismal picture.
The first is a new poll measuring U.S. popularity in the region. It is way down. The Washington Post reports that “favorable ratings of the United States have plummeted in the Middle East, according to a new poll conducted by Zogby International for the Arab American Institute Foundation. In most countries surveyed, favorable attitudes toward the United States dropped to levels lower than they were during the last year of the Bush administration.”
This was not supposed to happen; President Obama’s Cairo speech in 2009 was supposed to be the start of a new era. The White House even entitled the speech “A New Beginning.” The President larded the speech with praise of Islam and quotations from the Koran.
Tuesday's killing of U.S. Ambassador to Libya John Christopher Stevens is the result of President Obama's failure to lead and his failed foreign policy of appeasement and apology. These attacks, the murder of our ambassador and the disgraceful treatment of his body must have consequences. The timing of this on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11 is more than just coincidence. Sadly, America has suffered as a result of President Obama's failure to lead and his failed foreign policy of appeasement and apology.
The world must know beyond doubt that America will not allow these types of attacks on our people. Obama's failed leadership is in direct contrast with the Ambassador Stevens brave leadership and effort to protect Americans at the consulate.
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden squarely blames Obama's Libya adventure to for Ambassador's death. Violent protests in Libya that claimed the life of the U.S. ambassador were the result of President Obama’s decision to intervene in the Libyan revolt without a “deep appreciation” for what would follow, former CIA Director Michael Hayden tells Newsmax. Hayden, a former four-star Air Force general, was appointed CIA director by President George W. Bush in 2006 and served until 2009.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV, Hayden discusses the events in Libya: “I’m reminded of Secretary of State Powell’s comments about Iraq going back almost a decade — the Pottery Barn theory that if you break it you own it. Here’s a case where we went into Libya for reasons that seemed very powerful for some people at the time, almost all of them in Tehran, perhaps without a true or deep appreciation for what the secondary and tertiary effects of overthrowing Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi would be.
Hayden, was asked if State Department officials in other countries, particularly the Middle East, are in greater danger. “I am sure that the cables have gone out to the appropriate embassies in that region saying be on your guard, increase security, strengthen your liaison with local government in order to get a warning of impending demonstrations or attack,” he responds.
“You might even see people being told to vary their times en route to work. You might see other people being told to stay at home. You’ve got to take all appropriate precautions, although I must admit that if you were going to predict two countries in which these events were to take place I would’ve predicted Egypt and Libya as being the two that were most volatile and the two where these events would’ve been most likely.”
“Libyan military forces and police were slow to act once the protest in Benghazi developed. Asked if they may have been complicit in the demonstrations, Hayden tells Newsmax: “I really don’t know, and a wise man once told me several decades ago, never blame on malice what can easily be explained by incompetence. So we’re just going to see how the facts take us with regard to what the Libyan government did and didn’t do.”
The protests were sparked by the YouTube trailer of a movie, “Innocence of Muslims,” which insults the Prophet Muhammad. Florida pastor Terry Jones, who had inflamed anger in the Muslim world in 2010 with plans to burn the Koran, said he had promoted the film, which was produced by an Israeli-American property developer.
Regarding Jones, Hayden says: “Blood on his hands is a strong statement, but actions have consequences. These are reasonably predictable consequences, so I do think that someone who set this chain of events in motion bears some measure of responsibility.
“But when you come right down to it, one of our fundamental values is freedom of speech. We have a right to say that. People have a right to say things even if those things are offensive. Frankly, that’s a real test of freedom of speech, isn’t it?”
Asked why protests turned so violent in Libya but not in Egypt, Hayden says: “On the surface, Libya is a far more fractured society. It is all controlled by a variety of competing armed groups. It could be a case where arms in the hands of violent ill-tempered men are more numerous than they are in Egypt.”
Some Major Points on the Libya Killings
On the merits, this is outrageous and a tragedy. One of the first principles of diplomacy is that nations have a duty to protect the representatives of foreign states sent there to do international business. Today, American security forces have a duty to protect Libya's diplomats at their embassy in Washington DC and in consulates elsewhere. Libyan security forces had a duty, which they did not fulfill, to protect Ambassador Christopher Stevens and other U.S. representatives in Benghazi. On the short-term politics, one reason why people who have seen previous campaigns always insert, "Anything could happen, but..." when giving forecasts about presidential races is that, indeed, anything could happen. Political races and policy arguments grind their way along, economic trends push slowly in one direction or another, and then from time to time wholly unforeseen events occur. The political ramifications of this event in the United States are nowhere near its most important consequence. But this counts as one of the wholly unforeseen events affecting the political cycle.
On the longer-term temperamental politics, this is a very vivid example of what people mean when they talk about "the 3 a.m. phone call." Let us look very carefully at the first-reaction quick responses, and then the considered second-take positions, by the two candidates. One or the other of them will be in charge of U.S. response to similar inevitable-surprise episodes in the next four years.
The Craven and Disgraceful Response to the Murder of the American Ambassador in Libya shows that either Obama and his administration are a castrated lot or they are willfully ignoring the best interests of the country. In the first case, they are unfit to lead the country, and in the second case, they are suitable for trial for sedition.
Most of the mainstream left’s initial responses to the murder of Christopher Stevens, the American ambassador to Libya, have been not just flawed, but broken at the most fundamental and basic level. Michael Tomasky, for example, was extremely agitated by the GOP’s (predictably) overheated and foolish reaction, but he was apparently almost as upset at the makers of the film that sparked the rioting as he was at the people who actually rioted. Responsible people would condemn, of course, the violence itself; but also, the idiots who made and promoted the film that sparked this violence. A tragedy like this, once upon a time, especially occurring on an anniversary of an unprecedented, tragedy would have found both parties, however superficially, linking arms for a day to show that we’re all Americans.
I guess I’m not either a politically correct person or in the terms of Tomasky a“responsible” person, but I could not care less about the film or the people who made it. Their hearts could be blacker than the coal, corrupted by the most sordid sort of anti-Muslim prejudice that one can imagine, and still it would not matter in the least. People are (for now!) allowed to make films, even hateful, stupid, and insulting films. The reason that the US ambassador died is exceedingly simple. He died because an enraged mob of violent religious fanatics assaulted the US consulate. A film didn’t kill him, a rocket propelled grenade fired by someone who rejects the fundamental concept of free speech killed him. It’s bizarre to me that that distinction needs to be made, but the idea that “both sides are guilty” is apparently one that hasn’t been laughed off. The identities of the filmmakers are entirely beside the point, as is the film’s embarrassingly low production value. But Tomasky’s apparent preoccupation with the filmmakers was not a narrow, isolated instance: I’ve seen a similar focus from a number of other perfectly mainstream and representative liberals. Here, for example, is Mehdi Hasan, the political director of the Huffington Post UK, wondering “if the 100 donors to this $5m hate-fest will be identified or whether they’ll have the balls to identify themselves.” Here is Matt Duss, of the Center for American Progress, saying that the makers of the film “should be exposed, along with the rest of the transnational anti-Islam incitement industry. The makers of the film should not be “shamed” and should, if they so desire, be able to remain perfectly anonymous. The right to anonymous speech is, of course, a fundamental and non-negotiable part of the right to free speech generally, one that has been repeatedly defended by the Supreme Court, and the apparent rush to “shame” the makers of the film is itself deeply shameful.
I don’t care about the partisan political meaning of this tragedy: it doesn’t matter to me how or if Stevens’ murder changes the polls or if it provides a boost to Barack Obama or Mitt Romney. I frankly find it baffling that anyone’s first reaction to this could be “but how will it impact the election??” What I do care about is that people seem comfortable mentioning “making an obnoxious film” and “murdering people in cold blood” in the same sentence, as if they are even in the same moral universe. To put it another way, if people in Libya and Egypt are violently opposed to basic concepts like freedom of speech that’s on them: no one forced them to riot, no one put weapons in their hands, and no one forced them to pull the trigger. The rioters are autonomous moral actors who can and should answer for their own actions. And they have been prompted to do so by inane policies.
There are reasonable differences about the specific policy response to Stevens’ murder and also reasonable differences about American policy in the Middle East more generally. I understand that, and I’m under no illusions that my own views on the matter are the only “right” ones. But it’s deeply disgraceful to me that, in condemning the outrageous murder of a high-ranking American diplomat, many commentators felt the need to condemn the makers of what ought to have been an insignificant little film. Even assuming the very worst about the creators of “Innocence of Muslims,” assuming that they’re hateful, loathsome bigots, they really don’t have anything to apologize for: the people that have something to apologize for are the ones who ran riot through the streets of Benghazi and Cairo.
Obama has proved himself to be more timid than Chamberlain when confronting Hitler. How do the Americans expect to defend them against mini-Hitler Ahmadnijad or his ilk ruling today in Egypt and Libya? It is time for US to assert itself and its might and ensure that this nation shall be an object of ridicule, that none shall treat Stars and Stripes with contempt or ransack and murder its representative. I dare Obama to take the challenge a la Winston Churchill who promised blood, sweat and tears.
Dr. Bikram Lamba, is a political and business strategist. He can be contacted at 905 848 4205. Email:email@example.com