"Outsiders" Americas Watch (9/12/2012): Now What?
: The State of the Race
Earlier, I wrote on the events of the tragic day that saw four of America's finest give their lives in the line of duty. I was gratified when I saw the US Senate Republican Leader rise to remind the World about how United Americans were. The Republican Speaker of the House led members in a moment of silence and remembrance. Many mainstream Republican Commentators have condemned Governor Romney's move. Joe Scarbarough's statement was telling--as reported on Politico Who told Mitt Romney to issue a political broadside against the Commander in Chief when our Ambassador was murdered? Yet, Governor Romney continued to double down to simply placate to the various factions within the Republican Party. On Fox News, Peggy Noonan came out to scold Governor Romney by noting that during such times of calamity, little or no word would have been the right course of action. President Obama was so right when he noted that Governor Romney seems to shoot first and aim later. Despite all the information that is out there, the true facts are yet to be known.
Beyond today, the larger issue is how incompetent The Romney Organization is. This is from someone who touts himself to be a CEO and a Job Creator. Furthermore, the story by Matt Taibbi in Rolling Stone is quite an indictment of his vision for America. As Governor Romney doubled down, some of the more conservative pundits were on the prowl supporting him--including Bill Kristol and Rush Limbaugh. The National Review was on the prowl noting how Romney was right. They failed to understand that Libya is still going through a profound transformation process. There has been elections and a new Congress and a new Government is in place. But there are a multitude of factions. Some 10 Libyans were killed trying to defend US diplomats. They are also heroes here.
Barack Obama, though, went about being President. He began the day with a somber statement at the White House. He then went off to the State Department to have an all hands meeting. He directed all assets to be deployed to insure the safety of US personnel. He sat down in a calm and deliberative matter for an interview with Telemundo where he addressed some of the key questions. Earlier, he granted an interview to Scott Pelley of CBS News to address some of the questions. What he noted on the actions of the Cairo Embassy staff was telling and showed real leadership. He noted that he was inclined to cut staffers a little slack because they were "closer to the ground" during the events in Egypt. He backed his team--which is the hallmark of a leader. When I released my latest Middle East Watch bulletin earlier, I noted this and was very pleased to see it. That's exactly what I would have done. The United States has profound challenges though as I noted earlier because of the continued deep resentment against US Policy as countries throughout the Middle East continue to assert themselves. It was telling that Mosri, the Egyptian President, went to China and Iran on his first foreign visit.
As I assessed the day, I remember a comment by President Obama at one time noting how a President can do more than two things at the same time. The business of Government is continuing. I also believe that Senator McCain spoke for all Americans on the floor of the US Senate when he noted and as reported on his Senate Office Website @ Really Long Link
[B]It is with a heavy heart that I rise today to speak about the horrific attack yesterday on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi that killed four Americans. The two confirmed thus far to be among the dead are Sean Smith, an Air Force veteran turned State Department Information Management Officer and Ambassador Chris Stevens, one of Americas finest and bravest Foreign Service Officers.
I did not know Sean Smith, but I had gotten to know Chris Stevens quite well. And in Chriss death, the Libyan people have lost a great champion and believer in the peaceful aspirations of their democratic revolution. The American people have lost a selfless and dedicated servant of our interests and values. And I have lost a friend. My thoughts and prayers today are with Chriss family and the loved ones of his fallen colleagues. May God grant them comfort in their time of grief.
Our most urgent order of business now is to make sure that our citizens still living and serving in Libya, and Egypt, and elsewhere across the region and the world are safe. Americans look to the governments in Libya and Egypt and elsewhere to meet their responsibilities in this regard. We also look to the Libyan government to ensure that those responsible for yesterdays attack in Benghazi are swiftly brought to justice. In all of these critical tasks, we are confident that our government will provide all necessary assistance and support. Yesterdays attacks are an important reminder that so many of Americas civilians, and diplomats, and development professionals are risking everything to advance our nations interests and values abroad. We must do everything in our power to ensure their security.
At the same time, our thoughts turn to broader concerns the mourning of our fallen friends, and how we as a nation should respond to these tragic events.
One of my most memorable meetings with Chris Stevens was last April in Benghazi. As the U.S. envoy to the Libyan opposition, Chris had traveled to Benghazi at great personal risk to represent the country he loved so much while Libya was still gripped in a brutal fight for freedom. It was clear there was nowhere that Chris would rather have been than Libya. We spent the day together, meeting Libyan opposition leaders and many ordinary citizens, who spoke movingly about how much the opportunity to finally live in freedom meant to them, and how grateful they were for Americas support. Chris embodied that support, and his passion for his mission was infectious.
I kept in touch with Chris after my visit, and I was very happy when President Obama nominated him to be Americas Ambassador to the new Libya. The last time I saw Chris was shortly after he had taken up his post, during my most recent visit to Tripoli. I especially remember the lighter moments we spent together, including when Chris insisted on personally making me a cappuccino, a task that he carried out with as much pride and proficiency as his diplomatic mission.
That was on the morning of July 7 the day Libyans voted in their first election in half a century. Chris and I spent the day together again, traveling around Tripoli, visiting polling places, and speaking with Libyan voters. We met a man whose father had been murdered by Qaddafis henchmen. We met a woman whose brothers had recently given their lives fighting for their countrys liberation. We met countless others, including many older Libyans, who were voting for the first time in their lives. And everywhere we went, we were greeted by crowds of cheering Libyans, bursting with pride and eager to shake our hands and express their gratitude for America's support. It was one of the most moving experiences of my life, and it was only made better by the fact that I got to share it with Chris.
What we saw together on that day was the real Libya the peaceful desire of millions of people to live in freedom and democracy, the immense gratitude they felt for Americas support for them, and their strong desire to build a new partnership between our nations. That is why I am not surprised that senior Libyan leaders were among the first to condemn the horrific attack that killed Chris and his colleagues. And that is why I was not surprised to learn from our Secretary of State that many Libyans fought to defend our people and our consulate in Benghazi when they came under attack, that some were wounded while doing so, and that it was Libyans who sought to get Chris and his colleagues to the hospital. This is the spirit of the Libyan people that I have come to know and admire. And that is why we cannot afford to view the despicable acts of violence perpetrated yesterday by a small group of fanatics as in any way representative of the country and the people of Libya. They are not the real Libya the Libya that Chris Stevens knew so well.
After such a heartbreaking loss for our nation, I know many Americans are asking whether the United States was naïve or mistaken to support the vast movement for change known as the Arab Spring. I know many Americans may feel a temptation, especially with so many domestic and economic challenges facing us here at home, to distance ourselves from people and events in Libya, and Egypt, and elsewhere in the Middle East. We cannot afford to go down that path.
Yesterdays attack in Benghazi was the work of a small group of violent extremists, whose goals and actions could not be more at odds with those of the people and government of Libya. The Libyan revolution began peacefully and was dedicated throughout to the ideals of freedom, and justice, and democratic change. And when Libyans turned out by the millions to elect a new government in July, they gave the plurality of their vote not to religious fanatics, but to a political party led by a moderate technocrat and committed friend of the United States.
Libyans rose up last year to free themselves from exactly the kinds of murderers and terrorists who killed our people yesterday in Benghazi. Their enemies are our enemies, and they remain as committed as ever to imposing their evil ideology through violence on people in Libya and the Middle East, and ultimately on us. They want to hijack the Arab Spring for their own insidious purposes. And if we turn our backs now on the millions of people in Libya, and Egypt, and Syria, and other countries across the Middle East people who share so many of our values and interests, people who are true authors of the Arab Spring we will hand our common enemies, the terrorists and extremists, the very victory they seek.
We were right to take the side of the Libyan people, and others in the region who share their peaceful aspirations. And we would be gravely mistaken to walk away from them now. To do so would only be a betrayal of everything that Chris Stevens and his colleagues believed in and ultimately gave their lives for, but it would also be a betrayal of Americas highest values and our own enduring national interest in supporting people in the Middle East who want to live in peace and freedom.
Governor Romney should have at least taken the time to consult with Senator McCain instead of depending on the band of neo-cons
Starting next month, the Presidential debates are scheduled to begin October 3. I had noted for quite sometime that the elections will be close. However what has transpired over the last number of weeks, in my view, has been a game changer.
The election is President Obama's to lose .