The bankrupt instincts of an Obama administration determined to find moral equivalence between America’s enemies and friends have been thoroughly illuminated. Within a 48-hour period — beginning on the commemoration of the worst domestic attack in our nation’s history — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was snubbed, and President Obama, besotted by the notion that the Islamist-dominated uprisings in the Middle East constituted an “Arab Spring,” has has reaped a self-inflicted whirlwind for his myopia: our embassies in Egypt, Libya and Yemen have been attacked and an ambassador and three members of his staff have been murdered.
As always, Islamists have their “rationale” for perpetrating murderous violence. This time it is allegedly a film titled “Innocence of Muslims.” In truth, the film was not responsible for igniting the latest violence, especially the apparently well-coordinated and well-planned murder of Christopher Stevens and his staff members in Benghazi, which is looking more and more like a premeditated terrorist attack. The film was nothing more than a convenient diversion used to obscure the real Islamist agenda: re-inflaming anti-American passions beginning on the eleventh commemoration of 9/11.
Sadly, administration officials equally attuned to the siren song of moral and cultural equivalency were only too willing to assist that agenda. Such assistance began early, when the American embassy in Cairo issued an apology for the film prior to the attack there:
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. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.
Even if one could find some kind of justification for that misguided statement, such as an effort to defuse a potential attack, one is hard-pressed to comprehend a tweet sent by the embassy during that attack. “Sorry, but neither breaches of our compound or angry messages will dissuade us from defending freedom of speech AND criticizing bigotry,” it read. And then there was this tweet. “This morning’s condemnation (issued before protest began) still stands. As does our condemnation of unjustified breach of the Embassy.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton initially jumped on the appeasement bandwagon was well. “We condemn the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims,” she said in response to the storming of America’s embassy in Egypt. Yet the murders in Libya were a bridge too far–sort of. While condemning ”in the strongest terms the attack on our mission in Benghazi,” Mrs. Clinton still felt compelled to note the that the “United States deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others,” before finally concluding that there “is never any justification for violent acts of this kind.”
Yes there is. It is the attempt to elevate the actions of an Israeli-American property developer and an incendiary preacher operating on the margins of American society into something that requires an official government apology, in order to placate Islamic mobs who will never be placated.
Apparently someone in the White House recognized the political downside of such appeasement. The embassy apology was disavowed by the Obama administration. ”The statement by Embassy Cairo was not cleared by Washington and does not reflect the views of the United States government,” an administration official told Politico. Just as telling, several of the embassy’s tweets were subsequently deleted, perhaps in the hope that a mainstream media with its own agenda of aiding and abetting this president whenever possible, would focus its energies somewhere else.
The administration needn’t have worried. Despite a timeline published by Breitbart.com revealing when the tweets occurred, the 16 hours it took the Obama administration to disavow them, and a statement made by Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney condemning the attacks and the administration’s initial response–itself held for two hours before being released–the media was more than willing to carry the president’s water.
The New York Post’s John Podhoretz best describes their pathetic attempt to make Romney and his “intemperate” statement the focus of this foreign policy debacle. “Apparently, it is the view of much of the mainstream media and foreign-policy establishment that discussing these horrific events in the course of the presidential campaign is monstrous,” writes Podhoretz. He then explains the motive. “This was an effort–not entirely conscious–to make it illegitimate for Romney to criticize the president’s foreign policy at a moment when foreign policy has suddenly taken center stage…That is not what The Most High (the media) want–a debate. What they want is for Obama to be re-elected. And they’ll use the tools at their disposal to achieve their aim.”
Apparently one of those tools was inadvertently discovered, courtesy of an open mic, at Romney’s press conference Wednesday morning. CBS’s Jan Crawford and NPR’s Ari Shapiro were caught on tape coordinating their line of questioning–specifically focusing on the “intemperate” nature of Romney’s statement. Reporters often work together in such fashion, but it is telling that their focus has nothing to do with what America’s policy responses to such attacks should be, but whether or not Romney’s statement was ill-timed and/or ill-advised. And lest anyone think those two were an anomaly, CNN’s Don Lemon continued focusing on the Romney “gaffe” theme Wednesday afternoon. Richard Williamson, the Romney campaign’s foreign policy adviser, got to the essence of the media’s agenda in response. ”[Y]ou want to talk about a process issue,” Williamson lectured Lemon. “Because the White House doesn’t want to talk about substance. It wants to talk about process.”
Here’s “process.” On September 10th, in an eerily prescient column when viewed retrospectively, Washington Post’s Marc Thiessen revealed that the “Government Accountability Institute, a new conservative investigative research organization,” examined the president’s schedule. They discovered that “during his first 1,225 days in office, Obama attended his [Presidential Daily Brief] just 536 times–or 43.8 percent of the time. During 2011 and the first half of 2012, his attendance became even less frequent–falling to just over 38 percent. By contrast, Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush almost never missed his daily intelligence meeting.”
Furthermore, despite every effort by the media to make it seem like Romney had no basis on which to criticize the president, Barack Obama still felt compelled to bring up religious disrespect during his statement Wednesday condemning the attacks, long after the Cairo embassy tweets had been disavowed. “Since our founding, the United States has been a nation that respects all faiths,” he said. “We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.” Thus, despite all evidence emerging that such “denigration” was nothing more than a smokescreen for stoking anti-Americanism in Egypt, Yemen, and outright terror in Libya–as well as American flag burning outside our embassy in Tunisia and by Hamas in Gaza city yesterday–moral equivalence remains part of the equation.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi, invited to meet with President Obama on September 23rd (even as Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu remains persona non grata), demonstrated his priorities in remarks broadcast by Egyptian state television. ”We Egyptians reject any kind of assault or insult against our prophet. I condemn and oppose all who… insult our prophet,” said Morsi, who then contended that “it is our duty to protect our guests and visitors from abroad..”
After the fact apparently. In Cairo, the mob scaled the embassy walls, took down the American flag and attempted to burn it. When that failed, they tore it to shreds. A black Islamic flag with the words “There is no god but God and Muhammad is his prophet,” similar to banners used by al-Qaeda, was raised in its place. The crowd chanted, “Islamic, Islamic. The right of our prophet will not die.” Some shouted, “We are all Usama,” referring to Al Qaeda leader bin Laden. The crowd outside the embassy numbered in the thousands, and dozens of riot police lined along embassy walls made no effort to stop the assault. Attempts to re-assault the embassy continued yesterday.
The attack in Benghazi was far worse. An initial report by the Associated Press noted that the Libyan protesters “fired gunshots and burned down the U.S. consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi,” during which American ambassador Christopher Stevens and his aides were killed. Once again, Libyan security forces, outnumbered by the crowd did little to stop the rampage. “The Libyan security forces came under heavy fire and we were not prepared for the intensity of the attack,” said Abdel-Monem Al-Hurr, spokesman for Libya’s Supreme Security Committee.
On Thursday in Yemen, as many as 5,000 protesters were trying to storm the U.S. compound in Sanaa. Hundreds managed to get thought the main gate into the compound before being driven back by security forces who fired weapons into the air. One protester was killed by police. anti-American protests also took place outside U.S. embassies in Morocco, Sudan, and Iraq. Remarkably, Hillary Clinton re-iterated her contention that the violence was triggered by the aforementioned video, which she characterized as “disgusting and reprehensible,” as well as a cynical attempt to offend people for their religious beliefs–even as she once again added that it does not justify violence.
If the video doesn’t justify violence, why do administration officials keep alluding to it? The answer is obvious. Without that particular crutch to fall back on, the Obama administration would be forced to face two inconvenient realities. First, their Middle East initiatives are a bust, in large part because they have proceeded from assumptions that the president’s speech in Cairo three years ago would usher in a new spirit of understanding between the West and the Islamic world. It didn’t, despite Obama’s effort to apologize for America’s “sins.” Second and far more important, despite what the progressives in this administration fervently believe, culture matters.
A New York Post editorial best expressed this reality. “This week, Barack Obama got a life lesson: There is no dealing with the 9th century. It can be held at arm’s length, and beaten back when necessary, but it has nothing in common with the 21st century–that is, with civilization.” They further noted that the administration’s aforementioned crutch is exactly that. “Ostensibly, the week’s rioting has been over a mindless bit of videography clearly meant to defame Mohammed and, by extension, Islam. In the modern world, blasphemy is shrugged off. In the 9th century, it warrants mayhem. And in the Obama White House, it’s cause for compromising a fundamental principle, the First Amendment,” it states.
Make that a fundamental American principle, one of many this administration appears more than willing to sacrifice to a chimeric Middle East “greater good” that is neither greater nor good. The first rule of any coherent foreign policy is the idea that America’s interests come first. Yet it was the Obama administration’s combination of passivity in Egypt that precipitated the Muslim Brotherhood’s takeover of that nation, and their activity in Libya that has propelled the ascendancy of Islamic factions completely antithetical to the interests of America. It is their ongoing antipathy towards drawing a red line with respect to Iran’s nuclear ambitions, even as they have set obvious limits on Israel’s ability to defend their very existence, that allows the megalomaniac mullahs of Tehran to continue pursuing their apocalyptic worldview towards the catastrophe that must precede the second coming of the Mahdi, according to their interpretation of the Quran. Even the failure to beef up security at embassies in the Middle East in the days leading up to the anniversary of 9/11 is part of the same ideological bankruptcy that drives this administration.
Even their claims of fostering respect for religion ring hollow. This is the same president who thinks nothing of trampling on the beliefs of Christians opposed to financing birth control and abortifacients for their employees, while expressing disdain regarding those who would “offend” Islam — even as four Americans have been murdered by the terminally offended.
A giant power vacuum has been created by this administration and its ongoing attempts to foster the despicable moral equivalence between our enemies and our friends that forms one of the essential pillars of progressive ideology. It is a vacuum that will not remain unfilled, even as leftist apologists continue to insist that Islamist ambitions, wherever they arise, can be “contained,” as long as we remain “sensitive” to that which might ignite those ambitions. That is an abject lie. Those ambitions are self-igniting, and their perpetrators will exploit perceived weaknesses wherever they arise. That the administration would even dream of giving those perpetrators even an ounce of credibility–by making sure to include criticism of a film in every condemnation of the violence supposedly precipitated by it–is utterly appalling.
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Arnold Ahlert is a former NY Post op-ed columnist currently contributing to JewishWorldReview.com, HumanEvents.com and CanadaFreePress.com. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.