Libya Crisis Proves Obama's Foreign Policy Weakness

How quickly the tables have turned against President Obama and his allies who attacked Mitt Romney on national security issues.

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Protesters destroy an American flag pulled down from the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, Tuesday, Sept. 11, 2012. Egyptian protesters, largely ultra conservative Islamists, have climbed the walls of the U.S. embassy in Cairo, went into the courtyard and brought down the flag, replacing it with a black flag with Islamic inscription, in protest of a film deemed offensive of Islam.

How quickly the tables have turned against President Obama and his allies who attacked Mitt Romney on national security issues.

On the anniversary of the September 11 attacks that killed some 3,000 people, several immediate challenges and embarrassments have occurred that the Obama administration must get a handle on immediately. These actions already cast severe doubts that the president has the ability to manage America's interests in the Middle East.  

[Read the U.S. News debate: Can Mitt Romney best Barack Obama on national security?]

On September 11th, armed gunmen attacked the U.S. consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi causing the death of the U.S. ambassador and three of his staffers. The armed group is said to have been protesting a film being produced in the United States that insulted the Prophet Mohammad.  In addition, Egyptian protesters scaled the walls of the U.S. embassy on Tuesday, tore down the American flag, and burned it during a protest over what they said was the same film. In place of the U.S. flag, the protesters tried to raise a black flag with the words "There is no God but God, and Mohammad is his messenger", according to a witness.

The U.S. embassy in Egypt released a statement on the anniversary of terrorist attacks on U.S. soil that apologized to the angry mob. The statement said it "condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims -- as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy," the statement said. "We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others."

[See a collection of political cartoons on the turmoil in the Middle East.]

So an angry mob that storms the walls of the American embassy and terrorists that overrun the U.S. consulate in Libya cause the Obama Administration to quickly bow down and apologize? Is it a universal right of free speech to breach the walls of the American embassy and burn the American flag in Cairo, and to kill the ambassador and three staffers at the U.S. consulate in Libya? One would understand if a statement was made on September 10 or 12 that said the American government did not condone the riot-causing video and also called for peaceful protests and civil discourse. But this move made by the Obama administration sent a signal that it's OK for people that don't like the United States to push our country around. In the words of columnist Charles Krauthammer, it's like saying "Thank you. May I please have another."

Here's another diplomatic head scratcher. All it took was a phone call to solve the problem. Growing tensions around Iran's nuclear capability resulted in a request from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's office to meet with Obama in Washington as part of the prime minister's trip to the United Nations in New York later this month. However it was rejected because of the president will be in campaign mode Netanyahu, however, is expected to meet with other senior U.S. officials in New York, including Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

According news reports, Netanyahu said that those who do not place "red lines" in front of Iran's nuclear capability have no moral right to put a "red light" in front of Israel when it comes to military action. Netanyahu's words came in the wake of statements by Clinton on Sunday, and State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland on Monday, that the United States had no intention of putting either red lines or deadlines in front of the Iranians.  

[Read the U.S. News debate: Should the United States should discourage Israel from attacking Iran?]

So President Obama turned down the Prime Minister of Israel because he's campaigning? One has a growing uneasy feeling that Israel may soon attack Iran and Obama wants nothing to do with it because it may impact the presidential race. If there was ever a time to show American voters how to lead the country during an impending crisis, this is it. Because like it or not, this will have a major impact if tensions escalate into an attack. So after a day of sticking to his guns, the president finally made an hour-long phone call to Netanyahu to discuss Iran.

These embarrassments come on the heels of the Democratic National Convention fiasco when it took the ruling of the chair to quell a rebellion of putting "God" and naming Jerusalem as the capitol of Israel back into the party platform.

President Obama cannot afford to politically posture when America's national security is on the line. He must do his job, exert his role as commander in chief, and prove himself to American voters. To continue campaign and criticize Romney's foreign policy credentials is now pointless when true leadership is required.  

  • See a collection of political cartoons on Iran.
  • See a collection of political cartoons on the 2012 campaign.
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