The killing of the US Ambassador to Libya and three of his staff, the sacking of the US embassy in Egypt and a copycat attach on our embassy in Yemen is projecting foreign policy into the heart of the 2012 presidential election campaign. In the Middle East, the facts surrounding the attacks are still being clarified but the feigned outrage over the YouTube posted video involving the Prophet Muhammad looks more like a convenient pretext for radicals looking for just such opportunity.
Meanwhile, stuff is happening that in reaction and anticipation of more to come.
What should we make of this?
President Obama must feel blindsided by tragic events not of his making that nonetheless risk spinning out of control when he least needs to give his electoral opponent more ammunition. Just as the President hoped for a bump in the polls after the Democratic Party convention he finds himself stuck in the mud of what some are trying to characterize as Iran 1979 all over again with the embassy attacks taking place on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
Governor Romney calls the president’s foreign policy feckless and failed trotting out the ‘apology tour’ videos and telling the likely voters—See!!!! The president’s weak positions of national defense and weak position on projecting American strength internationally are leading to more insecurity. But if he presses too far he risks looking like piling on when America is vulnerable.
The President then steps in it big time by telling the Israeli Prime Minister he is too busy campaigning to meet with Netanyahu over Iran. Israel smacks him upside the head by telling the world just that only souring an already bad relationship.
The President of Egypt takes a LONG TIME to condemn the embassy attack in Cairo. Not a smart move for a government that counts on $1.5 billion of US military aid each year. Republicans call for suspending US aid to Egypt and Pakistan and Afghanistan in retribution for the attacks and the lack of confidence that these places are really friends. Even the president says that Egypt is NOT an ally, but neither is it an enemy. HUH? Are you kidding me? This really is amateur hour at the White House!
Behind the scenes these events in the Middle East, upon reflection, look TOO planned, TOO well timed, TOO orchestrated to be coincidence. Is this Iran’s hand at work through proxies? Are the jihadists really able to orchestrate such large scale multi-faceted events—again?
Part of me just wants to take two Tylenol PM and get a good night’s sleep hoping these crazy events will blow over and things will be better in the morning—-it won’t! The fear is this is just the start of a period of skirmish, displays of plumage and posturing stunts designed to undermine the credibility of the US in the Middle East before Israel bombs the holy crap out of Iran in an effort to degrade the nuclear option, buy time and force the Obama team to come to its rescue BEFORE the election—or else.
That is the President’s real October surprise nightmare scenario. And the jihadists know just as they knew in Iraq when Sunni insurgents attacked Shi’a causing a counter reaction. Or when Iran tells Hezbollah to lob rockets into Israel. Stuff happens! Are the people of Egypt at fault because stuff happens? Of course not. Do they run into the street waving American flags and cursing the jihadists because Americans are their friends, of course not.
We are at the crazy time in our electoral cycle and the international trouble making cycle that symbolic dates like 9/11 or Election Day bring out the troublemakers. We should expect it, but we don’t have to like it or overreact to it.
The Administration is trying to contain the violence by condemning the You Tube video the jihadists claim provoked it. This is worse than dumb. The American Government should be defending the American value of freedom of speech not make apologies for it pandering to terrorists. WEAK! WEAK! WEAK!
But there are also lessons for Muslims. Chill out people! Don’t let a bunch of nutcases hijack your religion. And cut us a little slack will you, we believe in freedom of speech and not everything that comes out of someone’s mouth or shows up on YouTube is justification for stupid behavior on your part. Get over it!
The worry is this is only September and the October surprise is yet to come before election day.
- Protesters Storm U.S. Embassy in Yemen in New Attack (usnews.com)
- Yemen protesters repelled from US Embassy (worldnews.nbcnews.com)
- Middle East a Tinderbox, American Leadership Absent (warsclerotic.wordpress.com)
- Future of U.S.-Egypt Relations Not So Clear (commentarymagazine.com)
- ‘October Surprise’ In September? Romney Attacks Obama On Foreign Policy (addictinginfo.org)
- Yemen protesters repelled after storming US Embassy (worldnews.nbcnews.com)