Romney too quick on the trigger
September 13, 2012
We condemn the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims. – U.S. Embassy Cairo
Six hours before the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo were breached by Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators, the embassy issued the statement above in an attempt to thwart an anticipated demonstration.
It was probably not only a futile gesture, given the sentiment whipped up by a local Muslim cleric, but later, even the White House made it clear the statement was unauthorized. In any case, the demonstration in Egypt resulted in no one being killed, though another demonstration was in the works. .
In neighboring Libya, another kind of event was unfolding: a commando raid on our consulate resulted in more than a flag burning. The attack killed our ambassador and three more Americans. The details are still under investigation.
Before knowing the facts involved, Mitt Romney seized the moment to turn a national foreign policy crisis into a political statement, condemning the Cairo embassy statement as another example of Obama’s middle east “apology tour.” The next morning he doubled down on his attack while ignoring completely the administration’s distancing from the statement. He had neither the wisdom nor decency to wait until later to make a political point.
The U.S. is in a precarious position. The Arab Spring has presented the U.S. with new challenges and responses to new circumstances. Once we were only grooming dictators to do our bidding; now we must hope to change the attitudes of the populist movements. These attacks on our diplomatic properties deserve a unified response from the U.S. in the times of crisis. Later, politicians can rightly open up the policy for debate.
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Romney’s chest thumping, hard-line statement aimed at criticizing our president was very unhelpful. Romney did not act presidential ; he acted like a political opportunist with little regard for national security interests of the moment.
If it is in our national interest to win the hearts and minds of the street of the Arab world, a President Romney will have a very steep learning curve.
There are residents of Grand County who have served or are now serving in U.S. diplomatic missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Their bravery and dedication to the mission of winning hearts and minds of citizens of those countries is deeply appreciated and admired. My immediate thought was that such a quick-on-the-trigger bully speech by a President Romney would only put their lives in greater danger and make their jobs more difficult.
What many in countries new to democracy do not understand is that anti-Muslim hate speech of a Christian pastor like Terry Jones does not represent U.S. government policy. After all, in their history any utterances that did not conform with their rulers’ policies landed the offender in jail. The idea that Jones was not thrown in the nearest dungeon, is still a strange concept to the Arab street and it is easy for radical Muslim clerics to use such ignorance to incite riots and violence.
While Americans will fight to the death to protect the right of even the hateful to speak their minds, those taking advantage of such rights have a responsibility to act in our national interest. Jones deserves vocal condemnation for his irresponsibility. He was the burner of the Koran that resulted in nine deaths and 81 wounded in Afghanistan and he is the same pastor that posted on the internet the offending insult of Mohammed that figured in the Cairo violence Tuesday.
Tolerance of other religions, as expressed by the Embassy of not “hurting their feelings,” is also a fundamental American value. It will be even harder to convey those U.S. values to the Muslim world, given the recent events.
For more, go to http://www.mufticforum.com