With the murder of U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens, the Arab Spring has now become the Arab Fall, and the Islamic Winter cannot be far behind — yet American politicians (and the American media) continue to celebrate democracy in the Middle East as though it were a good thing.
Make no mistake — democracy is mob rule, and it was just such a mob that brutally killed the ambassador and his three colleagues — a mob no doubt spurred to action by Islamic extremists — a mob that no doubt was coordinated with the mob in Egypt that raised an Islamic flag above the U.S. embassy in Cairo — a mob that represented the underlying hatred for all Americans that is expressed regularly by millions of Arabs and Muslims.
But if you were to be following the news closely in the wake of these tragic events, you might get the mistaken impression that these four Americans were killed by “friendly fire” — that it was somehow an aberration that they had been targeted for death, that there was no way to anticipate such a horrible outcome.
Indeed, America’s leaders are still insisting on feel-good bromides about the “opportunities” that exist in the Middle East as a result of the collapse of several Arab governments over the past 18 months. And our politicians seem convinced that Arabs and Muslims will respect and admire the United States if they are only given the chance. For the rest of us, that was hard to believe last week; it is near impossible to believe this week.
President Obama got elected in 2008 partly by convincing voters that George W. Bush had tarnished the reputation of America worldwide, and particularly among Arab and Islamic nations — and that somehow just by electing Barack Obama, the United States could turn everything around.
Listen to Obama’s words from a Nov. 21, 2007, interview on New Hampshire Public Radio when he was still the underdog in the Democratic primary race against Hillary Clinton:
“I truly believe that the day I’m inaugurated... the world looks at America differently... If I’m reaching out to the Muslim world they understand that I’ve lived in a Muslim country and I may be a Christian but I also understand their point of view... I think the world will have confidence that I am listening to them and that our future and our security is tied up with our ability to work with other countries in the world... That will ultimately make us safer, and that’s something that [the Bush] administration has failed to understand.”
It is true that George W. Bush was not widely liked in the corridor that stretches from Morocco to Egypt, from Syria to Iran, and from Afghanistan to Indonesia. Neither was he particularly respected. But the United States was feared — and make no mistake, George Bush DID know how to work with other countries in the world, but he tried to get them to follow his lead, not just pander to their interests.
President Obama, on the other hand, has made every effort to be a friend to Arab and Islamic countries across the globe by telling them what they want to hear. One of the first foreign policy initiatives of his administration was his tour to the Middle East in June 2009, including his speech in Cairo called “A New Beginning.”
In that speech, President Obama declared that “America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles — principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.”
Those are encouraging words, but just because they sound good does not mean they are good and sound. Indeed, millions of Americans reject those words, just as they rejected the assurances of George W. Bush that Islam is a religion of peace. The facts speak for themselves.
President Obama has promised retribution for the deaths of Chris Stevens, Sean Smith, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, and I have no doubt he will make good on that promise, just as he made good on his promise to bring Osama bin Laden to justice. That isn’t the problem.
Killing terrorists is easy. What is hard is creating an environment where the next diplomat or the next innocent civilian won’t be killed — where America’s power and might is respected rather than under-estimated — and despite the big words in 2007 and 2009, Barack Obama has yet to deliver on his promise to make us safer.
It might be worth considering that the last time an American diplomat was murdered in the line of duty was in 1979, when another weak president was in office.
Jimmy Carter, through his feckless foreign policy, invited attacks on our nation, not just in Afghanistan, where the ambassador was killed in a failed kidnapping, but also in Iran, where our Embassy staff was held hostage in yet another Islamic show of “justice... tolerance and dignity.”
Based on what we saw last week, it is not unreasonable to wonder whether the worst is yet to come.