I'm not a bleeding-heart liberal. I certainly recognize that the violent anti-American protests this week throughout the Middle East and beyond in response to a stupid video denigrating the Muslim religion are a real threat to the United States and need to be taken very seriously.
But what we don't need right now are more politically motivated charges against President Barack Obama for being soft on our enemies.
Gov. Mitt Romney, who's trailing in the latest polls, including a new Fox News poll, clearly sees this latest undeniably frightening uprising as an opportunity to reinvigorate the charge that Obama has failed on foreign policy.
Romney this week accused Obama of being more sympathetic with Muslim protesters than with the American diplomats they attacked in Egypt and Libya. Romney reportedly said Obama was “disgraceful” in that he “apologized for American values.”
Well, the so-called “apology” to which Romney refers, which was issued by the American Embassy in Cairo on Tuesday before the violence began, wasn't actually an apology at all. It was a call for cooler heads, an attempt
to quell the angry mob before they attacked.
Even Fox News' Bill O'Reilly, no fan of Obama, said it was the right thing for the embassy to do. "I'm not sure the governor is correct on that," O'Reilly said on The O'Reilly Factor this week. "The embassy was trying to head off the violence" with their statement.
Longtime John McCain adviser Mark Salter, also no fan of Obama, told RealClearPolitics that there is "nothing wrong in principle with making clear to people, who have yet to embrace the categorical right to free speech, that Americans and their government deplore the deplorable, that we reject vile attacks on Muslims as vigorously as we reject vile anti-Semitic attacks. To do so does not constitute sympathy for the people besieging our embassy, as Gov. Romney alleged. Nor is at an apology for America, as some Obama critics have claimed. It's an expression of our decency."
But in politics, truth is rarer than fiction. The notions that Obama keeps apologizing for America and that he has not been a strong president on matters of national security have enjoyed a long shelf life - but they're not true.
Whatever you think of Obama, the truth is he has been far more of a hawk than most expected. But while George W. Bush got us into an unnecessary and costly war in Iraq, Obama has focused on our real enemy:
fundamentalist Muslim terrorist leaders. More of them have been killed on Obama's watch than in the eight years Bush resided in the White House.
On Wednesday, Obama said of the embassy killings, “No acts of terror will ever shake the resolve of this
great nation... Make no mistake. Justice will be done.”
I tend to believe him, based on what he's done the past four years.
Hell, he even ordered that Predator drones be sent into Yemen to take out an American citizen and former San Diegan (Anwar al-Awlaki), who'd become arguably the world's most influential Jihadist.
Even the ACLU and Ron Paul condemned Obama's decision to kill al-Awlaki - so he must be doing something right! Obama said at the time that the strike against al-Awlaki was "further proof that Al Qaeda and its affiliates will find no safe haven anywhere in the world."
Blake Hounshell, managing editor of the nonpartisan Foreign
Policy magazine, told the Los Angeles Times that it “smacked of desperation” for Romney to try to
use the embassy’s note as an example of the Obama Administration's weakness abroad.
Hounshell said that "anyone who knows how diplomacy works knows that Barack Obama is not
editing statements by junior foreign service officers in Cairo. And, even if the language was
imperfect, it was not an apology. But the narrative for Republicans for a long time has been that Obama apologizes for America and that Democrats are unpatriotic.”
Given the fact that these protests have spread throughout the Muslim world, this has indeed become a dangerous situation for Americans. But what would Romney do? Would he declare war against and send Marines and soldiers to all of these countries?
Romney's hawk talk and Obama bashing won't make the situation any better. And it could make it worse.
Some are comparing this situation to the 1979 American hostage crisis in Iran in which Republican candidate Ronald Reagan was sharply critical of President Jimmy Carter, whose attempt to free the hostages failed. But it's not a good analogy. Obama's efforts to kill al-Awlaki, bin Laden, and many other fundamentalist Muslim leaders have succeeded.
It comes down to this: Do you want to throw gasoline on the fire right now and stoke a possible full-fledged worldwide war
between Christians and Muslims? Or do you want America to continue strategically killing the bad guys but also continue recognizing and reaching out to moderate Muslims?
And yes, moderate, peace-loving Muslims do exist. After the violent attack in Libya, pro-American protesters took to the streets of Tripoli to offer condolences for the death of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens. The peaceful protestors in Libya, a nation that is nearly 100 percent Muslim, carried signs that read, "This is not how we thank who helped us when we needed help the most."
That presumably refers to Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, who was also killed under Obama's watch.
So, the choice we have
in November in terms of foreign policy in times of crisis seems very clear:
We can either cut off all diplomatic efforts, rattle our sabers, condemn all Muslims as terrorists and move closer toward World War III, or we can continue to eliminate the Muslim terrorists efficiently but also keep an open dialogue with moderate Muslims like the ones who took to the streets of Tripoli.
I don't care if you're a Republican, a Democrat, a Libertarian, an Independent, or a member of the Silly Party,
no thinking person should have a difficult time deciding between those two options.