Secretary of State Clinton on the other fatalities from yesterday:
Tyrone’s friends and colleagues called him “Rone,” and they relied on his courage and skill, honed over two decades as a Navy SEAL. In uniform, he served multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. Since 2010, he protected American diplomatic personnel in dangerous posts from Central America to the Middle East. He had the hands of a healer as well as the arm of a warrior, earning distinction as a registered nurse and certified paramedic. All our hearts go out to Tyrone’s wife Dorothy and his three sons, Tyrone Jr., Hunter, and Kai, who was born just a few months ago.
We also grieve for Glen Doherty, called Bub, and his family: his father Bernard, his mother Barbara, his brother Gregory, and his sister Kathleen. Glen was also a former Navy SEAL and an experienced paramedic. And he put his life on the line many times, protecting Americans in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other hotspots. In the end, he died the way he lived – with selfless honor and unstinting valor.
Just as a counterpoint, one reason I am not and never have been a Republican:
Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt.Sad and pathetic.
Here is a Sean-Hannity-endorsed highlight reel of Obama apologizing in which, you will notice, Obama never apologizes. He makes what we might call "admissions" that the government of the United States has made mistakes. What these mistakes consist of remains mysterious, because Obama declines to give the kind of specifics that would provide such an admission any rhetorical force. "The United States," he says, "is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history." This counts, in some quarters, as an apology, but it’s a statement even the people most worked up about "apologizing for America" would probably agree with, should it come from someone else. Perhaps the reel is better termed, "things Sean Hannity finds galling when they come out of Barack Obama’s mouth." I take it to be the case, in watching these clips, that it’s hard to find footage of Obama actually saying he is sorry.
For the last forty years, the United States has had two main allies in the Middle East — Saudi Arabia and Egypt, the other ally in the Middle East being Israel. For the President to come out and say, well, he’s not exactly sure if Egypt is an ally any more but it’s not an enemy, that is a significant change in the perspective of Washington toward this country, the biggest country in the Arab world. It makes one wonder, well, was it worth it? Was it worth supporting the Arab Spring, supporting the demonstrations here in Tahrir Square, when now in Tahrir Square there are clashes going on behind me right in front of the US embassy?
The administration later tried to walk back the comment. Meanwhile, Frum questions US strategy regarding Egypt:
The central test of the engage-political-Islamists policy is post-Mubarak Egypt. Nobody remembers now, but after Mubarak's fall there was much debate whether the Muslim Brotherhood should be allowed to participate in Egypt's new political system. It is hardly illiberal to ban a party that aims at the overthrow of a liberal state. West Germany banned neo-Nazi parties after 1945; the post-1989 Czech Republic forbade former communist officials to hold government jobs – and both democracies are stronger for it. In the end, the Muslim Brotherhood escaped the ban by promising not to run a candidate for president, a promise it promptly broke.
Through it all, the Obama administration pressed for engagement, inclusion and acceptance, provided only that the Muslim Brotherhood complied with the rules of the political system. It did – and here we are.
Bush’s foreign policy, especially in his first term, consisted of a hyper-aggressive, hyper-expensive effort to use the 9/11 attacks to extend American dominance of the greater Middle East without much serious thinking about whether such an effort could succeed. Romney can’t continue that effort because Americans are sick of it and the federal coffers are empty. What’s left is bluster and apple pie. Romney rarely discusses how long he wants to continue the war in Afghanistan, for instance, but he constantly attacks Obama for apologizing too much and not believing in America.
Which is why it would be the worst combination ever – diplomacy designed for the Fox News audience and a military follow-through that would permanently cripple the US's already-precarious fiscal standing. John Judis rejects the Frum idea that Romney is all talk:
The right has decided – surprise! – that the whole Romney mess over Libya and Egypt is a function entirely of media bias. Eric Erickson complains that “the media wanted to focus on Mitt Romney” yesterday. Scott Galupo makes the obvious point: The media focused on Mitt Romney yesterday because Mitt Romney asked them to. If he had merely issued a formal statement expressing outrage at the mobs in Cairo and Benghazi, the media would have focused on the aspects of this ongoing story that Erickson finds so interesting — effectively, as Daniel Larison observed via Twitter, it would have done Romney’s work for him. Fred Kaplan spells out what Romney should have done:
Today, anti-film protesters attacked the US embassy in Yemen as well:
The protesters breached the usually tight security around the embassy and reached the compound grounds but did not enter the main building housing the offices. Once inside the compound, they brought down the US flag, burned it and replaced it with a black banner bearing Islam’s declaration of faith: “There is no God but Allah.” Before storming the grounds, demonstrators removed the embassy’s sign on the outer wall, set tires ablaze and pelted the compound with rocks.
Yemeni security forces who rushed to the scene fired in the air and used tear gas to disperse the demonstrators and were eventually able to drive them out of the compound. It was not immediately clear whether anyone was inside the embassy at the time of the attack.
It was not a simple mob that attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on Tuesday, killing four Americans. Benghazi was the scene of a pitched battle, one in which unknown Libyan assailants besieged American diplomats with small-arms fire for over four hours, repelling several attempts by U.S. personnel to regain control of it.
Nor was what happened in Benghazi a simple story of Americans assaulted by the Libyans they helped to liberate from Moammar Gadhafi last year, American officials say. Libyan security forces and a sympathetic local militia helped the Americans to suppress the attack and get the diplomats inside to safety.
That account is the first official telling of Tuesday’s events. It’s preliminary, as much of what has been initially reported in the media on Wednesday has proven incorrect. And it was provided to reporters late Wednesday afternoon by Obama administration officials who would not speak for the record.
Continued here. Another take on the same lines here:
Sean Smith, one of the Americans murdered in Benghazi was a huge force in the online multiplayer game EVE Online. He was on Jabber when the attack happened. His last words there, one reader tells us, were "FUCK", "GUNFIRE". This is an obituary from his "alliance leader". A reader writes:
I am a player in EVE Online, part of the coalition where Sean (aka Vile Rat) was such an important player. Here’s an excerpt of the coalition’s jabber announcement channel (which on a normal day is mostly filled up by fleet operation announcements), after his death was made public:
(11:08:36 PM) firstname.lastname@example.org/directorbot: My people, we have been dealt a grevious blow tonight, as people and as players. I, and all of us who knew Sean, are still reeling. And yet, to my horror, already Vile Rat's death has become a machination in Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. I do not speak of politics often because American politics do not matter in an international game of internet spaceships. But this sickens me, and Vile Rat would not have wanted to become a tool for the Romney campaign. Just this morning, he said this in Illum regarding the RNC:
(12:41:07 PM) kismeteer: vile_rat: Was there anyone in that group that you even partially respected? (12:41:14 PM) vile_rat: on the republican side? (12:41:17 PM) kismeteer: yeah (12:41:20 PM) vile_rat: nope. not a one.
And now we see this: "I'm outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi," Romney said in the statement. "It's disgraceful that the Obama Administration's first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks."
My fury is boundless. Our friend should not be used in this way. We have only so many ways to make our voices heard, but if enough of us shout loudly enough we can – as we have seen – force the media to notice. Retweet this. ALL OF YOU. I will not have Sean's memory desecrated by American presidential politics.
Update from a reader:
It was a bit weird to load your blog this morning and see my friend's face on it. I've known Sean for close to 15 years now, and the fact that his death is international news doesn't make any less sad, but it does make it very strange. I don't have much of anything to add to what your other reader sent you, but there is an attempt to raise money for his family, and you can do so here.
Mohamed El Dashan dreams of a more reasonable response to anti-Islam speech from the West:
Is the film insulting? Yeah, sure. But the best reaction would have been to ignore it completely. There is no virtue in displaying lethal outrage (as in Benghazi) whenever anyone throws a feeble punch at Islam and Muslims. Doing so is only a display of weakness, a fear that our religion cannot withstand even the silliest of skits. This idea is insulting in itself. Bring on the insults, I say — bring on the hatred, the mockery, the piques, the spitballs. The amateur films, the Danish cartoons, the Geert Wilders, and the like. There is little harm than can befall Islam as a faith. It has withstood, over the past fourteen centuries, infinitely worse attacks, yet it has neither weakened nor vanished.
In some ways, [the aftermath of the Danish Muhammad cartoon] was the beginning of an era of manufactured outrage, with a group of fringe hate-mongers in the West developing a symbiotic relationship with radical clerics across the East. The Westerners deliberately cause offense by describing Islam as a fundamentally violent religion, and all too often mobs in Muslim-majority states oblige by engaging in violence.
Murphy reports that the protest and attacks in Egypt were sparked by a religious TV station there:
A reminder of the real victims in this whole saga:
(Bottom photo: Libyan civilians help an unconscious man, identified by eyewitnesses as US ambassador-to-Libya Chris Stevens, at the US consulate compound in Benghazi in the early hours of September 12, 2012, following an overnight attack on the building. Stevens and three of his colleagues were killed in an attack on the US consulate in the eastern Libyan city by Islamists outraged over an amateur American-made Internet video mocking Islam, less than six months after being appointed to his post. By STR/AFP/Getty Images.
Top photo: The outer wall of the United States Embassy in Egypt covered in graffiti, the morning after it was vandalised by protesters during a demonstration on Septmeber 12, 2012 in central Cairo, Egypt. By Ed Giles/Getty Images.)
Daniel McCarthy explains how it makes events like those in Egypt and Libya possible: [T]here is no such thing as worldwide free speech. It’s not simply that few countries other than the U.S. have constitutional speech protections as broad as those of our First Amendment. What’s more important is that few people in the developing world separate tolerated expressions of hatred from official endorsement of such views.
Rosie Gray created an (unembeddable) video highlighting the heavy dubbing of the trailer. She theorizes that the "anti-Muslim 'movie' that served as the spark or pretext for a wave of violent unrest Egypt and Libya may not be a movie at all":
[N]early all of the names in the movie's "trailer" are overdubbed. The video is a compilation of the most clumsily overdubbed moments from what is in reality an incoherent, haphazardly-edited set of scenes. Among the overdubbed words is "Mohammed," suggesting that the footage was taken from a film about something else entirely. The footage also suggests multiple video sources — there are obvious and jarring discrepancies among actors and locations.
Michael Brendan Dougherty uses the recent violence to condemn the Arab Spring. Shadi Hamid rejects this view:
The easy response, for Americans suffering from Arab Spring fatigue, would be to give up on the Middle East. They could disengage, and treat the Arab world as what it seemed to be yesterday — a place well outside the grasp of normal, reasoned political analysis. But that would be a grave mistake, especially now. It should be obvious that disengaging from the Arab world is what both Salafi extremists — not to mention Arab dictators — want. The more the United States disengages, the more room they will have to grow in influence and power, and the more commonplace events like those of last night will become.
[W]hen faced with a 3 a.m. test, he reacted immediately, rather than having the instinct to wait. And after he waited, he mistook this as a moment for partisanship rather than for at least the appearance of statesmanlike national unity. The irony, of course, is that resisting the partisan impulse today would have been the greatest possible boost to his horse-race prospects two months from now.
Romney’s comments were, to be sure, unusually noxious and indecent. But this is also what happens when campaigns get desperate. Like a gambler who’s already lost too much, they begin taking risks in the hope of making it all back. And then, more often than not, they pay the price.
Frum blames ”the dangerously distorting effect of disrespect for one’s political opponents”:
Inside Team Romney, and among Romney’s donors and core supporters, it may be taken absolutely for granted that Barack Obama is a weak-willed appeaser of radical Islam, a cringing apologizer for America who does not love the country the way “we” do. So why not say it loud, especially when you think you’ve just caught his administration doing it again? And then you discover the mistake only after the statement has departed the outbox.
After a period of practically bipartisan disgust with Romney, the right is finally lining up behind him. A whole set of (frequently contradictory) defenses are already being mustered: that Romney was totally right, that Romney was unfortunately careless with his timing but essentially correct in his criticism, that Romney is the victim of a liberal media conspiracy, that the Democrats are actually the ones politicizing the tragedy and demanding that no one criticize the president during a crisis, etc.
U.S. President Barack Obama, standing with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, makes a statement about the death of U.S. ambassador-to-Libya J. Christopher Stevens on September 12, 2012. Stevens and three other embassy employees were killed when the embassy in Benghazi was attacked by a mob potentially angered by an American-made video mocking Islam's founding prophet. By Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.
This AP photo of a smiling Romney as he left his podium today is a close second.
Though it's not yet clear exactly who perpetrated the deadly attack in Libya, Christian Caryl notes a similarity between the anti-film protests in Libya and Egypt:
The rioters in both cases come from the region's burgeoning Salafi movement, and the Salafis have been in the headlines a lot lately. In Libya, over the past few months, they've been challenging the recently elected government by demolishing ancient Sufi shrines, which they deem to be insufficiently Islamic. In Tunisia, they've been attacking businesses that sell alcohol and instigating nasty social media campaigns about the country's female competitors in the Olympics. In Syria's civil war, there are increasing reports that the opposition's wealthy Gulf financiers have been channeling cash to Salafi groups, whose strict interpretation of Islam is considered close to the puritanical Wahhabism of the Saudis and others. Lately Salafi groups have been gaining fresh prominence in parts of the Islamic world — from Mali to Lebanon, from Kashmir to Russia's North Caucasus.
Caryl goes on to explore some of the debate over what kind of influence they might play, cautioning that not all Salafis are created militant.
To read all of today's coverage of the tragedy and the political fallout from Romney's disgusting and dishonest swipes at the Obama administration, in one convenient place, go here. We will be updating the chronological thread as posts are added to the Dish in the coming days. (For a reverse-chronological version of the thread, with the newest posts at the top, go here.)
Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi asked the Egyptian embassy in Washington to take legal action in the United States against makers of a film attacking the Muslim Prophet Mohammad, the official state news agency said on Wednesday.
It's important to understand that Morsi is concerned with Egyptian, not American, laws. Morsi is taking a page from the 1979 Khomeini playbook, fabricating an international incident to mobilize religious passions as a weapon for his political grouping against more secular blocs in Egyptian society – the Egyptian military very much included.
The protesters in Cairo appeared to be a genuinely spontaneous unarmed mob angered by an anti-Islam video said to have been produced in the United States. By contrast, it appeared the attackers in Benghazi were armed with mortars and rocket-propelled grenades. Intelligence reports are inconclusive at this point, officials said, but indications suggest the possibility that an organized group had either been waiting for an opportunity to exploit like the protests over the video or perhaps even generated the protests as a cover for their attack.
"I can’t ever imagine if the Prime Minister of Israel asked to meet with me, I can’t imagine ever saying no," – Mitt Romney.
It's a lovely complement to the following Romney campaign statement noted by Greg Djerejian:
As reported in the New York Times, after the latest fracas between Obama and Netanyahu, a Romney advisor states:
"Mr. Romney had no immediate comment about Mr. Netanyahu’s challenge to Mr. Obama, and one of his informal advisers on the Middle East said, 'It’s probably better at this point to let Netanyahu make the point because it’s more powerful that way.'" The adviser said he was not authorized to speak on the record." [my emphasis]
So let’s get this straight. First, no one is willing to comment on the record. Second, they double down on this cowardly posture by stating it is better to let a foreign leader beat up the United States’ current sitting President than the campaign itself. Quite classy. A few decades back, this would have unthinkable. Forget about politics stopping at the water’s edge, this is an opposition party openly siding with a foreign leader's world view on one of the leading geopolitical issues of the day.
Yep. And what's new about that? If Romney is elected, US foreign policy in the Middle East will be outsourced to the Likud.
As a practical matter, this episode shows how useless Romney’s main foreign policy theme has been. According to Romney, Obama “apologizes for” America, and Romney won’t. He tried to shoehorn the embassy attacks into this frame, and it didn’t work for at least two reasons. First, Obama didn’t respond to the attacks by apologizing for anything or sympathizing with the attackers, as Romney’s original statement charged, so it was blatantly false. Romney’s position that the U.S. should never “apologize for” American values is almost beside the point. Would this have made any difference to the people assaulting the embassy in Cairo or the consulate in Benghazi? Would the attacks not have happened if Romney had been conducting his own brand of thoroughly unapologetic activist foreign policy? It seems unlikely.
Goldblog, trying to learn more about the mysterious “Sam Bacile”, finds one of his wingnut associates: Steve Klein, a self-described militant Christian activist in Riverside, California (whose actual business, he said, is in selling “hard-to-place home insurance”), who has been described in multiple media accounts as a consultant to the film. No, Sam Bacile is not a real name, or possibly even a single person, and not Jewish:
Because he can lie and then repeat it without flinching:
First, the embassy in Cairo–not the White House, not Foggy Bottom, but the embassy–released its statement denouncing (not by name) the makers of the inflammatory film about Mohammed. That was around noon local time Tuesday.
Then the attacks happened.
Then, last night, came Romney's statement criticizing the Obama administration for its allegedly "disgraceful… first response" being "to sympathize with those who waged the attacks."
But: the attack hadn't happened! That first embassy statement was apparently issued because word was circulating about possible violence, and the embassy was trying to quell it.
Then the Obama administration distanced itself from the original embassy statement, and then Romney issued last night's statement.
So here's Romney now, at 10:18 am, now that he must surely know this chronology, still defending his statement from last night and criticizing Obama for defending the attackers.