This past week has been filled with riots and violence against US interests in the Middle East. An Ambassador and his security detail have been killed, US Embassies assaulted, American businesses destroyed…and it is likely to continue for a while.
Since we are just about to enter the heart of the Presidential campaign we will have a lot of public debate about who knew what, when they knew it, and why didn’t they act on it? I am sure we will hear more about how the President communicated his concern with the Egyptian President and this has led to moderation in the protests against the embassy in Cairo, but it won’t undo the damage. All who follow this long war should understand that fact.
What we saw was the US government’s first response to try and calm the situation with public support of the protests, as if to say we agree they have a legitimate right to destroy what they disagree with. I think Neville Chamberlain would be proud of this approach. It certainly worked well for him in his dealings with the Third Reich, just as it did with the Department of State efforts here.
I understand that we had information to suggest these events were being choreographed before they came to be, but took no action to stop them, because the very senior decision makers were focused on other matters. That seems to be the universal problem with intelligence. The people, who can actually do something with it, usually don’t.
The question that I think will go unanswered is can the Department of State, and this administration, ever come to grips with the fact the Arab world really doesn’t like us, and all our dealings with them must be based on that knowledge? With the collapse of the Soviet Union we gained a limited degree of freedom in our leadership role. We have squandered whatever freedom to maneuver we may have had by not recognizing the threat of fundamental Islam, and soon the emergence of China will signal the return of a bi-polar world where they will take an increasingly aggressive approach at challenging our national interests. Will they ever be able to act on the intelligence indications before we are overwhelmed?