This is a complex discussion which involves sophisticated judgments relevant to whether we should have launched offensive operations in Iraq and maintained a long-term presence in Afghanistan. Necessarily, this must also involve equally complex discussions regarding the United States’ risky gamble in assisting unproven and potentially dangerous groups to seize control of Egypt and Libya. These issues and discussions are all fair game during any election cycle. We all realize that the culture within the Middle East is, well, very foreign to the American mindset. Maybe Lawrence of Arabia, the protagonist of the 1962 film of the same name, understood these folks, but it seems clear our national leaders struggle in this regard. Because of this challenge, we have made a number of missteps, and a fair number of these missteps occurred during the past four years, during the current administration. Governor Romney wants to address them. Is that fair in the context of an American presidential election? I suggest that the answer to this question should be an absolute no-brainer: of course it is fair. It is not only fair– it is critical. We are losing American lives at an appalling rate and spending American treasure like there is no end to our wealth, all in order to address the threat posed by forces within this region. Of course this is expected as a topic for debate.
The immediate issue at hand orbits around the Obama administration’s actions and comments regarding the most recent attacks in Egypt, Libya and Yemen. Many of the actions and comments were issued by the leadership within our embassies and consuls. For the record, it is important to understand that our president personally selects each ambassador for each nation. These handpicked men and women report directly to the president. It may appear that these ambassadors are under the control of the Secretary of State, but they are not. They are chartered directly by the president and serve as his personal representatives in their respective countries. Why this is important? The answer is simple, because this reality forecloses any argument that these folks do not represent the president’s administration.
News outlets such as Fox and http://www.independent.co.uk indicate that the Obama administration had intelligence that foretold the immediate threat of the attacks, yet the Marine guards were not allowed to load their firearms and the nature of the threat was not passed down to the various country teams. Immediately before the attack on the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, the administration’s diplomat in Cairo released a statement basically apologizing for America’s actions. Later, Obama made it clear that the statement released by this particular embassy official had not been approved by him or his cabinet. However, it must be remembered that these embassy officials are his direct representatives and take their marching orders directly from him. If they are marching without orders, then we have an appalling leadership void. That, in and of itself, is a serious issue.
As we sort through the facts, a number of truths begin to rise to the top. First, both the Obama and Bush administrations made decisions that locked our foreign policy into a certain path in the Middle East. During the 2008 election, President Obama was highly critical of the Bush Administration’s decisions, yet, after he became president, he chose to stay the same course. If these decisions were relevant during the 2008 election, they are still relevant in 2012. Second, in 2008, Obama criticized the actions of all sorts of folks that Bush had appointed to office, even though Bush may or may not have known about the subject matter under critique. President Bush accepted responsibility for the actions of the people he appointed. I respectfully submit that our current president might take a lesson here. Third, Governor Romney was undoubtedly right when he stated that the Obama administration apologized to the very evil people who launched the cowardly attacks on our embassies and consuls. Fourth, the fact of the matter is that the United States government should not be apologizing for anything associated with this video. The government did not make or fund the creation of the video, nor should they accept responsibility for it. It was made by a person from private funds. It is in no way connected to our government. Rather than show our strength as a nation, we, under the Obama administration, showed weakness to the entire world.
Many suggest that this entire episode will hurt the Romney campaign. If that is so, it is a very sad commentary on the American electorate. I choose to believe that the American people are too smart to be fooled by the administration’s attempt to avoid a meaningful debate of its policies, decisions, failures and successes in regard to the Middle East. It is obvious to me that this is an issue of extreme importance. I might even find myself in this region fighting for my nation. Accordingly, I have a vested interest in the competent and responsible handling of this issue. Everything done or not done must be subject to review, comment and debate before we all go cast our votes.