By Anthony L Hall
Frankly, though absurd, it’s hardly surprising that an obscure Internet video depicting the Prophet Muhammad in a blasphemous light would incite ignorant Islamists (redundancy intended) to violent rage. Remember how mere cartoons of Muhammad incited fiery protests throughout the Muslim world a few years ago? These mindless Islamists are as embarrassing to all of my Muslim friends as they are incomprehensible to me.
Anthony L. Hall is a descendant of the Turks & Caicos Islands, international lawyer and political consultant - headquartered in Washington DC - who publishes his own weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, at http://ipjn.com offering commentaries on current events from a Caribbean perspective
What is surprising is that these religious lunatics would dare to vent their rage on US embassies. Yet reports are that on Tuesday (significantly September 11) they stormed the Embassy in Cairo, Egypt and launched rocket-propelled grenades at a Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, killing US Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others there.
Host countries are responsible for securing the perimeter of foreign embassies. Unfortunately, just as the mighty United States cannot prevent a lone gunman from going postal in a movie theater, fledgling democracies in the Middle East cannot prevent crazed mobs or organized jihadists from perpetrating such attacks ... only dictators can do that.
Nevertheless, given that Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney has predicated much of his campaign on painting him as just another feckless Jimmy Carter, the impulse might’ve been for President Obama to react with bravado in a vain attempt to prevent Romney’s caricature from becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy (in the impressionable minds of American voters).
And, by rushing to slam this president as an apologist/appeaser in chief even before the cause and scope of these tragedies were known, Romney showed that he will not allow diplomacy, US strategic interests, or even respect for the dead diplomats to prevent him from exploiting these unfolding events for political gain.
(For what it’s worth, Libyan authorities are blaming the attack on die-hard Gaddafi loyalists, while some reports are pinning it on the coordinated hand of al-Qaeda. Although, if the latter, one would have to wonder why kill in Benghazi but only tear up flags in Cairo, no?)
Whatever the case, Obama did not take Romney’s bait. Instead, after being fully briefed, he properly condemned the “outrageous and shocking” Benghazi attack and vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice. But he insisted that this attack will do nothing to alter American values.
His secretary of state echoed his sentiments and added this instructive personal note:
Today many Americans are asking, indeed, I ask myself, how could this happen? How could this happen in a country we helped liberate, in a city we helped save from destruction? This question reflects just how complicated and, at times, how confounding the world can be.
But we must be clear-eyed even in our grief. This was an attack by a small and savage group, not the people or government of Libya
. (Secretary Clinton, CNN, September 12, 2012)
Indeed, Libyan authorities immediately offered the kind of politically expedient apology we have become accustomed to hearing from US authorities whenever errant drone missiles kill innocent civilians in places like Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Yet the vexing irony Hillary alluded to cannot be overstressed. What’s more, some of us warned it might be thus:
With all due respect to the protesters, the issue is not whether Mubarak will go, for he will. (The man is 82 and already looks half dead for Christ’s sake!) Rather, the issue is who will replace him. And it appears they have not given any thought whatsoever to this very critical question.
The devil the Egyptians know might prove far preferable to the devil they don’t. Just ask the Iranians who got rid of the Mubarak-like Shah in 1979 only to end up with the Ayatollah -- whose Islamic revolution they’ve regretted (and have longed to overturn) ever since
…. (“Army Pledges No Force Against Protesters,” The iPINIONS Journal, February 1, 2011)
Meanwhile, conspicuously, both Obama and Hillary failed to mention the storming of the US Embassy in Cairo: an omission even more egregious than Romney’s failure to mention troops serving in Afghanistan during his RNC acceptance speech.
At any rate, as they presented their joint statement on TV on Wednesday, the (Republican) elephant taking up much of the screen was the fearful symmetry between Egyptians storming the walls of the US Embassy in Cairo yesterday and Iranians storming the walls of the US Embassy in Tehran in 1979.
Except that Obama has demonstrated that he’s no Jimmy Carter and, to complete the symmetry, Romney has demonstrated that he’s no Ronald Reagan.
NOTE: A little comic relief always helps when coping with tragedies like these. And the craze, ironically enough, over the gangnam dance that is now sweeping the country certainly provides it. But here is all I have to say about this dance: ayy macarena
Cartoons of Mohammed
Cartoon of Mohammed