Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Apologies Don't Win Wars

I've been harping on the need to pay attention to foreign policy for some time.  It has now come to a head.  Three situations have come together at such a time and in such a state that shivers should be shooting up your spine.

First is the refusal of the President to sit down once again with Netanyahu to discuss the options regarding Iran.  We don't seem to grasp how nervous Israel is over how close the Iranians are to making their first nuclear weapon.  If we sat as close as they do perhaps we would.  After all, they don't like us any better than they like the Israelis. But no.  I just don't think the President has the stomach for anything as complex and difficult as making a decision.

Second is the attack on the embassy in Cairo, the destruction of our flag and the raising of the al Qaeda flag in its place in protest to a video on You Tube supposedly insulting Mohammad.  We've been through this before.  Are we handling it correctly?  Each time a pastor in Florida with a minuscule congregation seems to be at the heart of it.  Our officials plead with him to stop because it puts our people at great risk.

It is his right, by our laws, to say what he wishes.  Perhaps we ought to do as Karzai has so often done.  Demand an apology for their behavior rather than apologizing for ours!  I'm not saying its right or in good taste or anything positive - but we do have free speech.  They want us to respect them, their religion, their prophet.  Should we not expect, no, demand, the same in return?  Freedom has its untidy consequences.  Would you rather be without it?

Third is the attack and murder of consulate personnel in Benghazi.  This was no mob angry over a video.  This was deliberate,  called for and well planned revenge for taking out one of theirs.  This is an act of war.  Not a declaration, an act.  The war has been going on for years and is escalating, not winding down. It's moving beyond the borders within which we've been fighting.  That makes it worse, not better. It is not the time for platitudes.  It is not the time to apologize for some nut's insensitivity to religion. It is the time to admit to exactly what's happening.  We are at war.  When are we going to fight it to win it?

It is time to get some backbone. No more leading from behind or ignoring what's going on under our nose. If we're going to maintain a presence in countries who have shown time and again we're not welcome, then we'd better set some conditions.  One, as a diplomatic guest in said countries it is the responsibility of those governments to protect our people and property.  It happened neither in Egypt nor Libya.

We pour billions of dollars into those countries and their brethren.  Tell them if they don't live up to their responsibilities, the open wallet will close.  Then close it.  They don't believe we will.  Will we?

It is time for this administration to admit sweet talk and extended time lines, or no time lines,  don't work in our favor but in the enemies.

I think you'd find Mr. Netanyahu would agree with that.

It is time to pay attention to what's happening in the middle east.  They've chosen the anniversary of their greatest success against us, 9/11, to ramp up activity.  I don't expect to see a change in how the current administration handles such situations.  Feigned outrage from the Secretary of State then nothing.

Will this be the time it's different?  Will al Qaeda decide to quit toying with us and do some real damage?  Is killing our soldiers getting boring because it's so easy?  Now they'll try for ambassadors and our civilian personnel because it takes some creative planning and coordination?

It's time to quit parsing words.   War is terror.  We've been purposely attacked.  Tsk tsk, we're sorry if we've offended you no longer cuts it.


Betty said...

What do you suggest we do?

Margie's Musings said...

Romney really jumped the gun with his remarks. He obviously did not know what he was talking about and did not have all the facts...just trying to make political points.

Mari Meehan said...

I disagree Margie. He was commenting on a reaction posted not once but twice. Explain your opinion to me, please.

Mari Meehan said...

Betty, I pretty well said it, but to sum it up. Stop giving them money and tell them we'll reconsider when they live up to their responsibilities, protecting our people and property on their soil rather than the "if you don't we might" that we do regularly.

Margie's Musings said...

Check with politifact, Mari.

In assessing Romney's remarks and whether the embassy statement was an apology, it's important to understand a few details.

First, the U.S. embassy released its statement at least several hours before protesters stormed the U.S. compound in Cairo -- and well before the attack in Libya took place. So the statement was not made in response to the storming of the Cairo embassy, nor to the killings in Benghazi.

It’s possible, however, that protesters had already amassed at the embassy by the time the statement was released; that’s not clear from the media reports we’ve seen. And there are reports, not backed up by the current embassy Twitter feed, that the embassy did reiterate the original statement via Twitter several hours after the embassy was breached.

Second, Romney’s initial statement on the evening of Sept. 11 calling the administration’s response "disgraceful" was made with knowledge of how the Cairo incident ended, but before the full details in Libya had emerged. On the other hand, significant details about both events were available by the time he made his comments on the morning of Sept. 12.

And third, the ABC News report suggests that even the White House was having jitters about the embassy statement after the fact, saying that it didn’t reflect the views of the U.S. government.

Margie's Musings said...

• Lauren Bloom, an attorney and business consultant who wrote The Art of the Apology, said that Romney is "once again allowing his emotional allergy to apology to interfere with his judgment."

Bloom said that "if there's anything more central to American values than respecting each individual's right to worship as he or she pleases, I'd be hard-pressed to say what it might be. The statement that ‘respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy’ not only is true, but is as clear an expression of one of our most cherished values as I can imagine."

She said the embassy statement is "not an apology -- quite the contrary, it's a confirmation that the American people recognize the right to worship freely and will not accept religious bullying in the name of free speech. To say that someone who deliberately insults others in the name of religion has acted wrongly isn't an apology -- it's simply a recognition that those insults go too far."

• Rhoda E. Howard-Hassmann, a professor who studies international human rights and maintains the website Political Apologies and Reparations, a database of documents on apologies, said the statement is "not an apology."

Rather, she said, "it is a condemnation of ‘abuse’ of the universal value of free speech. A condemnation is not an apology. … The Embassy statement also reaffirms two American values: the American value of respect for religious beliefs and the American value of democracy."

Mari Meehan said...

His comment was in reference to the fact the administration showed no outrage against the hooliganism, which has been going on daily in Egypt for some time, just not widely reported, but rather stating the administration's stand on the content which it has no control over anyway since it's a matter of free speech.

I believe that was Romney's intent. You can argue about the timing but the truth of it stands.

The embassy is an arm of the administration. You can see from today's events how everyone is out of sync on the comments forthcoming. Such things happen during times of crisis. To jump all over Romney may not be entirely fair when the President fumbles over whether or not Egypt is an ally.

I'm waiting to see how it plays out - that's the most important issue.