Embassy Attack Exposes Flaws in US Foreign Policy
by Mykayla Sandler on Friday, October 5th, 2012
On the eleventh anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, riots broke out at American embassies across the Muslim world. The violent confrontations which took the lives of four Americans, including J. Christopher Stevens, the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, first seemed to be backlash towards an anti-Muslim video posted on YouTube, according to Susan Rice, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. However, on September 28th, the Director of National Intelligence declared that this deadly attack was “deliberate and organized,” not the result of the blasphemous film. This incident raises many questions regarding both the Muslim world’s relations with the US and how the US should deal with violence from extremist Muslims or any other disaffected population.
As the record now shows, the video was merely a pretext for coordinated violence, targeting the U.S. through a direct and savage attack on the symbol of American presence in Libya – the American Consulate in Benghazi. Days before the riots, Jihadists threatened to burn down the US embassy in Cairo if the U.S. did not release their prisoners, but these threats did not mention anything about an offensive video. Did the protesters want more or less from America? Did the riots occur because the American government did too much or too little to overthrow Libyan dictator Mohamar Gaddafi, though Stevens was working towards peace and supported the Libyan revolution? Were they unhappy with the American government or their own? Though any clarification of what has transpired in the Arab world over the past few weeks seems unlikely, what is clear is that these riots were anti-American and that the assassination of an American ambassador is a war crime – not the first attack on America and definitely not the last.
Not coincidentally, this incident happened on the 11th anniversary of 9/11, the most successful terrorist attack on American soil. Perhaps the country’s memory of the 9/11 attacks has dimmed after 11 years; perhaps people have listened to the advice of “experts”, such as New York Times writer Vivian Yee or Harvard Professor Juliette Kayyem, who have urged America to move on and stop worrying about future attacks. NBC seemed to have taken their advice, as on 9/11, The Today Show was running a segment on the Kardashians’ breast implants instead of observing a moment of silence.
Clearly, the war on terror is far from over, despite what “experts” might say.
The video was hateful and in poor taste; nevertheless, it was legal. The First Amendment gives Americans the right of free expression, to speak their minds and practice religious rites without fear of persecution. In parts of the Muslim world, the majority of these rights are not protected, and exercising them can even be punishable by death. The United States should not apologize for nor give up its freedom of speech to appease those who would seek to oppress it. Despite what violent protesters may argue, an American video cannot justify four murders. After all, the video expresses the opinion of only an individual, not of the government or the people. The government has since changed its view on the motive for the murders, but the apology is still out there, giving the extremist Muslims exactly what they wanted. Apologizing for a video posted by an American that, as the US embassy said, “hurt the religious feelings of Muslims,” is akin to blaming sexual assault on the victim’s choice of clothing. It does not make sense. America needs to be assertive and bold in the face of intimidation so that terror cannot take another life.
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