Victor Davis Hanson: Storming Embassies, Killing Ambassadors, and ‘Smart’ Diplomacy





NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The End of Sparta, a novel about ancient freedom.

The attacks on the U.S. embassy yesterday in Cairo and the storming of the American consulate in Libya, where the U.S. ambassador was murdered along with three staff members — and the initial official American reaction to the mayhem — are all reprehensible, each in their own way. Let us sort out this terrible chain of events.

Timing: The assaults came exactly on the eleventh anniversary of bin Laden’s and al-Qaeda’s attack on America. If there was any doubt about the intent of the timing, the appearance of black al-Qaedist flags among the mobs removed it. The chanting of Osama bin Laden’s name made it doubly clear who were the heroes of the Egyptian mob. Why should we be surprised by the lackluster response of the Egyptian and Libyan "authorities" to protect diplomatic sanctuaries, given the nature of the "governments" in both countries? One of the Egyptian demonstration’s organizers was Mohamed al-Zawahiri, the brother of the top deputy to Osama bin Laden, and a planner of the 9/11 attacks, which were led by Mohamed Atta, an Egyptian citizen. In Libya, the sick violence is reminding the world that the problem in the Middle East is not dictators propped up by the U.S. — Qaddafi was an archenemy of the U.S. — but the proverbial Arab Street that can blame everything and everyone, from a cartoon to a video, for the wages of its own self-induced pathologies. So far, all the Arab Spring is accomplishing is removing the dictatorial props and authoritarian excuses for grass roots Middle East madness.

Ingratitude: Egypt is currently a beneficiary of more than $1 billion in annual American aid, and its new Muslim Brotherhood–led government is negotiating to have much of its sizable U.S. debt forgiven. Libya, remember, was the recipient of the Obama administration’s "lead from behind" intervention that led to the removal of Moammar Qaddafi — and apparently gave the present demonstrators the freedom to kill Americans. This is all called "smart" diplomacy.

Appeasement: Here are a few sentences from the statement issued by the Cairo embassy before it was attacked: "The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims — as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. . . .We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others."

The Problem? The embassy was condemning not those zealots who then stormed their own grounds, but some eccentric private citizens back home who made a movie...



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