Thursday, October 11, 2012

So Sorry

A very brief recap: on September 11, 2012, the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt was stormed by “protesters” who replaced the American flag with the black flag fashionable among Islamists. A bit later in the day, our consulate in Benghazi, Libya was attacked and our ambassador to Libya was killed. Prior to the demonstration in Egypt, our diplomats had issued a statement condemning a YouTube video that might “hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.”

In the days following September 11, the Obama administration asserted that everything that happened on that day was the result of this YouTube video. Since then, that assertion has been shown to be as ludicrous as it appeared to be when the administration was making it.

Today, I read a report by Eli Lake from way back on October 1 about what our intelligence agencies knew at the time and immediately following the events described above. This paragraph stood out to me:

The intelligence that helped inform those talking points—and what the U.S. public would ultimately be told—came in part from an intercept of a phone call between one of the alleged attackers and a middle manager from al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), the group’s north African affiliate, according to U.S. officials familiar with the intercept. In the call, the alleged attacker said the locals went forward with the attack only after watching the riots that same day at the U.S. embassy in Cairo.

It’s possible that the Cairo demonstration was prompted by the YouTube video (or rather by some individual or group that decided to use the video to whip up Anti-American fervor). Certainly, though, the Benghazi attackers were emboldened by the feckless American response to having our Cairo embassy stormed and by the effete pre-apology by our diplomats. The Benghazi attackers weren’t reacting to the video, but they were reacting to our display of weakness in defending the rights of those who made the video.

Can we please replace the apologizers in our diplomatic corps with apologists? Rather than sheepishly saying that we unfortunately have a Constitutional amendment that allows people to say things that “hurt religious feelings,” I want those who represent our government abroad to explain that we guarantee the free speech of our citizens and the result is a superior society. We will defend our diplomatic outposts and personnel, and any foreign government that doesn’t agree to let us defend ourselves will be deprived of our friendship and generosity.

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