Changing Story on Embassy Attacks Shows How U.S. Policy is Turning Into Shiite

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is giving closed-door testimony to the House today about the ongoing attacks on U.S. embassies. Given the tenor of the State Department's recent comments, we can expect the secret meeting to focus on such hot topics as whether Innocence of Muslims or YouTube itself is to blame, and whether the Charlie Hebdo cartoons would have been less insulting to Mohammed if they'd been rendered in manga or franco-belge style. 

But the Obama administration's handling of the embassy attacks has been an absurd combination of fecklessness, obfuscation and misdirection. 

The administration's claim that the deadly attack on the mission in Libya was not premeditated is contradicted by both eyewitnesses and warnings provided by the late Ambassador Chris Stevens, who gave ample alerts that al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists were planning an attack and even noted that he was himself on a death list. 

The administration also apparently gave erroneous accounts of what the two Navy SEALs killed in the Libya attack were doing at the embassy, and its explanation for why there was not sufficient security in Benghazi amounts to legalistic hair-splitting. If you're going to maintain diplomatic facilities (and I agree with Gary Johnson that you shouldn't), it's gross negligence not to protect them. 

The Obama foreign policy team does appear to be edging toward an admission that the Libya attack (at least) was a terrorist episode, and this is a welcome development. But it certainly creates new complexities for the administration. Attacks on embassies have been viewed as acts of war since the beginning of the republic. They have not always been responded to as such, and the president's domestic political opponents will no doubt make the technical point that there has been an attack on U.S. soil during President Obama's watch. But it's not cricket to lie about the circumstances of a deadly attack just because it might give ammunition to Mitt Romney. 

All of this comes after more than a week of claims by team Obama that the embassy attacks – which have been taking place over an area of more than three million square miles and for one of which (the mob attack in Cairo) the brother of al-Qaeda chief Ayman al-Zawahiri is claiming credit – are a spontaneous reaction to a film nobody has seen, and that the problem could be solved if there were more effective means of censoring media that insults Muslims

This explanation would be fishy even if we didn't have a very plausible one – that the September 11 attacks are a new offensive by a Sunni terror movement that is not nearly as dead as we were led to believe – right in front of us. I hope that isn't the correct answer (and haven't we spent trillions of dollars over the last 11 years to get better answers to just that question?), but it's beyond infantilization for the administration to refuse to entertain it. 

I've been saying "Obama" and "the administration" despite my conviction that American foreign policy is more or less consistent (and consistently bad) no matter who the president is. So here's what I'm wondering: If we are going to stay in the Great Game of trying to force outcomes in the Islamic world, why are we not leaning toward the Shiites, who are outnumbered nine-to-one and whose quest for a nuclear weapon is perfectly understandable given their international position? Didn't we just fight a massive war in Iraq, the apparently unintended result of which was to strengthen political Shiism? Why throw that advantage away? 

The first principle of power diplomacy is that you back the side that can't achieve total victory. Yet right now, amid Sunni attacks on American assets everywhere from Indonesia to North Africa, the main policy question being considered by the D.C. establishment is why we're not at war with Iran and Syria, and the only action the United States has taken against a foreign state that could be construed as an act of war – the introduction of the Stuxnet virus – was against Iran. It would be naive to expect straight answers, but I'll ask anyway: How does any of this make sense? 

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  • R C Dean||

    C'mon, reason. Use a real graphic to tie the new "L'stat, c'est moi" Obama graphic to the Benghazi killings:

    https://pbs.twimg.com/media/A3NLBLsCcAAcPOZ.jpg

  • Tman||

    This needs to be on every post that shows this stupid fucking poster.

    If there ever was an image I could point to and say "THIS. THIS IS WHY I AM NOT FUCKING VOTING FOR THIS NARCISSISTIC LYING SNAKEOIL SALESMAN" this would be the one.

  • ||

    Awesome.That is all.

  • ChrisO||

    Actually, that's l'etat, c'est moi, but it's not like King Barack the Unwise would probably know the difference.

  • R C Dean||

    Le bite moi, Chris.

  • ChrisO||

    Pepe le Pew?

  • entropy||

    But the Obama administration's handling of the embassy attacks has been an absurd combination of fecklessness, obfuscation and misdirection.

  • Invisible Finger||

    How does any of this make sense?

    I don't know. But I'd guess it has something to do with appeasing Israel and the House of Saud at the same time.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    The administration also apparently gave erroneous accounts of what the two Navy SEALs killed in the Libya attack were doing at the embassy

    What the fuck were any of those people doing in Libya?

  • Tman||

    I believe they were ex-navy seals. I'm pretty sure they were working for private contractors.

  • GILMORE||

    Yes. They were fixing the roof.

  • Jack the Reaper||

    It sounds to me like Ambassador Stevens was the sacrificial goat. They are hoping this flares up into a huge mess. We don't have sufficient "cause" to keep sending more drones so let them start something. Even if we know it is coming, let them start it so we can respond.

    Shitbags...

  • GILMORE||

    Jack the Reaper| 9.20.12 @ 12:21PM |#

    It sounds to me like Ambassador Stevens was the sacrificial goat

    BLASPHEMER!! GOAT IS PRECIOUS AND DELICIOUS AND BLESSED BY ALLAH!! FILTHY INFIDEL AMERICAN WAS A DONKEY AND NOT SACRIFICED BUT RATHER SMITED IN RETRIBUTION FOR THE INJUSTICES COMMITTED AGAINST ISLAM~!

  • Tim||

    "The drone assasinations will continue until muslim morale improves"

  • R C Dean||

    Personally, I don't see why we should pick sides in the unending civil war between Sunnis and Shiites.

    Sunnis and Shiites are both well represented in the ranks of those who have, and are, killing Americans. How, and I suppose whether, we respond to these killings is certainly an issue, but I fail to see how picking one group of religious fanatics with a history of killing Americans as "our guys" is much of a solution.

  • Spoonman.||

    I think Tim was saying "SLD aside, why are we on the side of the ones that seem to culturally hate us more?"

  • tarran||

    It really boils down to the U.S. getting sucked into British politics.

    The Brits excelled at creating divisions between subject peoples and playing them against each other so that the Brits would essentially be the kingmaker surfing the shifting conflict.

    And, they used the U.S. on occasion as a junior partner to do their dirty work for them, for example getting the U.S. to attack Iran because Iran was demanding that the ancestor of BP submit to an audit to confirm that it was paying the royalties it was supposed to be paying to the Iranian govt.

    Rather than letting the locals fight it out (and stealing their best and brightest by allowing them to emigrate here), the U.S. is not attempting to do the same thing, but the U.S. government sucks at it.

    Honestly, it doesn't matter who rules the House of Saud, who controls the Dome of the Rock, or who occupies the peacock throne. They will still do business with anyone willing to trade. The rest is just noise.

  • tarran||

    I should amend what I wrote to read that the british excelled at exarcebating divisions.

  • ||

    "Exarcebating"? Is that a new form of masturbating?

  • tarran||

    It's a form of masturbation designed to maximize calories burned.

    The name is a portmanteau of Exercise and Mansturbate

  • Tim||

    "Mansturbate"? That's a keeper.

  • Teenage Girl||

    Eewww!!

  • Killazontherun||

    I've been telling my chubby friends 'more humping and less use of the hands' for years.

  • Cytotoxic||

    "Why are we not with the Shiites"

    Well unfortunately the (Persian) Shiites are ruled by a regime that has been waging war against the west and America in particular since 1979 and is the fountainhead of the extremism American embassies are subjected to now. Yes, Shiite extremism can bleed in Sunni extremism.

    As soon as the regime is toppled, a goal we should have achieved long ago, Iran can assume its rightful place as a civilized western country that serves our ME interests.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Lies.

    The enemy of my enemy is always my friend.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Sarcasm...?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Of course not.

    Prior to the Iraq War, Iran was Iraq's biggest enemy, which why they were our ally during the Persian Gulf War, right?

  • Tim||

    The enemy of my enemy is my enemy. The friend of my enemy is the enemy of my friend. The subsidizer of my enemy is me. That will be $2 billion dollars please.

  • Tim Cavanaugh||

    As Dr. Logan says to Capt. Rhodes, apparently they're not inclined to do that for you. And since our own best and brightest are not inclined just to withdraw, you're left with two varieties of political Islam.

    One variety has taken hostages but returned them in good health, attacked a Marine base in a country that was indisputably at war, has a hierarchical, scholarship-based structure strong enough that even a functional illiterate like Moqtada al-Sadr has to pay lip service to ayatollahs better educated than himself, and has generally left American interests alone for the last 30 years. The other flies airplanes into buildings, murders U.S. ambassadors with rockets, kills U.S. troops by embedding its believers in an army that is putatively allied with us, harbored Osama bin Laden for years, and outnumbers the rival group nine-to-one.

    This isn't a choice between Quakers and Jains. They're both bad options. The best choice is neither. The second best choice is the Shiites.

  • ||

    +1 for the obscure reference at the beginning there.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Odd, those Jaish al Mahdi shooting at me in 2008 were probably Shi'ia. And the IRGs we killed or captured - I'd bet the same thing!

    And I'd probably bet an MRE or two that Farah Province is no longer peaceful because of the education respecting Persians.

    I'll stick to the snark flung out thus far, rather than fill up many comment blocks with examples of Sh'ia 'generally leaving American interestes alone'. Yeah, they both suck, but don't downplay the Shi'ia scumbagery.

  • CatoTheElder||

    Among other things, this incident illustrates some of the key differences between (American) liberals and progressives.

    For one thing, the progressives have twisted the favorite Voltaire quote of liberals into, "I may disagree with what they say, but I am willing to equivocate when you are willing to kill those who say it."

    For another, progressives are even more disingenuous than liberals. It's a sad state of affairs when the spokesman for the Libyan government is more credible than the spokespeople for the White House and State Department. Of course, government officials all lie almost all the time, but the progressive bozos cannot even concoct a believable narrative.

    Which suggests another difference between progressives and liberals: progressives believe that the public is utterly stupid and capable of believing anything as long as the media repeats it often enough. Liberals knew that you can fool some of the people all of the time and all of the people some of the time, of course, but recognized that they couldn't fool all of the people all of the time.

    Forward!

  • Loki||

    Or we could just leave that whole cluster fuck alone and let the barbarian assholes eat each other. Just so long as they know that any action against us will provoke an incredibly over the top violent reaction.

    I know, I know, that ship has already sailed, but a guy can dream, right?

  • tarran||

    I know, I know, that ship has already sailed, but a guy can dream, right?

    It hasn't. It's never too late to do the right thing.

  • R C Dean||

    That would pretty much be my policy:

    "We are indifferent as to the internal affairs and governance of your countries, provided, of course that you do not interfere with the commerce in oil or attack the United States.

    Any attack on the United States, or attempt to disrupt the flow of oil, will trigger a disproportionate response aimed at eradicating the attackers and their state sponsors. We know this will require an awful lot of bombs, but we need to stimulate our economy anyway.

    Carry on."

  • Tman||

    Anything short of a policy such as this will be insufficient to deal with this problem. Sending a nation building force to pick up the pieces after we remove another tinpot dictator is never going to solve this.

  • RBS||

    an incredibly over the top violent reaction.

    Nuke Mecca?

  • Loki||

    Nuke Mecca?

    "I say we take off and nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure."

    ...preferably during the Haaj. I keed, I keed.

  • Loki||

    *Hajj.

  • GILMORE||

    *Haagshhgh

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "I've been saying 'Obama' and 'the administration' despite my conviction that American foreign policy is more or less consistent (and consistently bad) no matter who the president is."

    Yeah and how about that 47% comment?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    As soon as the regime is toppled, a goal we should have achieved long ago

    All hail American Exceptionalism!

  • Tim||

    If they had to swim the Atlantic to lynch an American, there'd be no Americans lynched.

  • GILMORE||

    "U.S. Policy is Turning Into Shiite"

    That is not the high point of Tim Cavanaugh's career as a pundit

  • Tim||

    He's been reading too many HR posts.

  • GILMORE||

    That headline was far more NY Post than H+R

    par example

    http://www.nypost.com/promos/covers.htm

    also... you seem to be missing an ampersand. Strange.

  • Ken Shultz||

    "We can expect the secret meeting to focus on such hot topics as whether Innocence of Muslims or YouTube itself is to blame."

    I see huge parallels between the idea that people shouldn't be allowed to insult the Prophet because it might make Muslims riot somewhere and the idea that women shouldn't be allowed to wear what they want becasue it might make men rape them.

    I hate to admit it's gotten to the point where I hope the Obama Administration calls for censorship just so it discredits them, but that's kinda where I am right now.

  • Nephi||

    If Teddy Roosevelt were still a live, he'd take a flamethrower to that place!

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    Is the current President as mindlessly stupid as the last, pretending to be as stupid or does he think everyone else is stupid?

  • ChrisO||

    The first and third options are not mutually exclusive and are probably the most likely.

  • GILMORE||

    As someone who has spent a lot of time working to understand the history and dynamics of the Arab world in the 20th century, and spent every year since the 80s bombing of the marine barracks in Lebanon endlessly surprised with how retarded U.S. policy could be in reaction to any given event in the region*, I will say now, after about 25+ years of reasoned, rational, thoughtful analysis...

    ... i'm pretty much ready to call it quits and just Crusade some motherfuckers. They already act like we hijacked the Great Mosque and pissed on the Kaaba... why not at least fulfill their expectations at this point? I was an opponent of the invasion of Iraq. Still am. But one begins to start asking questions, sort of like tim in this piece = what the fuck can we possibly resurrect from our policy disasters at this point? Might not we just as well declare Kurdistan an independent state? Or bomb Libya... AGAIN? (maybe they'll get the point this time)... I'm just saying - our 'delicate' mechanizations have left us in a condition of Full Retard = what exactly is to be lost by going completely Mungo and acting exactly like the Arab muslim world pretends we do?

    I'm getting a little 'John' right now.... pardon me.

    (*note: I will always remember with fondness Reagan's 1986 response to threats from Libya's Col. Muammar Gaddafi = We send F111s to bomb your children. That was a different time. I had an F111 t-shirt. It was awesome)

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Are you willing to endure the supercilious 'tut-tuts' of smug Europeans if we do that, though?

  • GILMORE||

    When i was a kid they could tut all the fuck they wanted but they still kept their fucking trap shut because they knew we were the only thing between them and the goddamn soviets.

    Ever since the berlin wall fell, and democracy spread around the world, expanding teh freedoms... people have become such dicks.

  • MJGreen||

    what exactly is to be lost by going completely Mungo and acting exactly like the Arab muslim world pretends we do?

    Hundreds of thousands if not millions of Arab lives?

    A shortening of the division of labor and trade, particularly in oil?

  • GILMORE||

    MJGreen| 9.20.12 @ 1:49PM |#

    what exactly is to be lost by going completely Mungo and acting exactly like the Arab muslim world pretends we do?

    Hundreds of thousands if not millions of Arab lives?

    A shortening of the division of labor and trade, particularly in oil?

    You make it sound like these are "bad" things?

  • T||

    We either need to walk away, or we'll do this eventually. I hold to the opinion that the worst thing that could ever happen for both Muslims and the US is the detonation of a nuke on American soil by terrorists. We will go maximum full retard at that point and the result will be fucking genocide. We'll make the Third Reich and the Golden Horde look like amateur hour.

  • R C Dean||

    Or, we might just run some ads in Urdu apologizing for giving offense.

    Like we're doing right now in Pakistan. Complete with State Department seal and appearances by the President and the Secretary of State.

  • GILMORE||

    I don't mind scrawling a brief... well, not so much apology, but more like a ... 'minor expression of regret', a la "excuse me"... "didn't mean to cut you off there...".... "no, you first" .... "no offense intended"... you know, 'courteous pleasantries'

    As long as i can scrawl it on the side of a Daisy Cutter bound for Karachi

  • ΘJΘʃ de águila||

    Sounds like you are ready to get naked, cover yourself with mud and do "Predator vs Muslim in Africa". Collect a Killer Kombat Medal medal from War Chief Obama.

  • GILMORE||

    C'MON!!! DEW IT NOW!! AIHM HERE! KILL MEE!! DO IT!! KILL ME!!

  • Paul.||

    But the Obama administration's handling of the embassy attacks has been an absurd combination of fecklessness, obfuscation and misdirection.

    I agree, however... y'all bitchez wanna know something really...REALLY depressing?

    Pew Research just came out with their leviathan Romney VS Obama poll, and Obama leads, by significant numbers, in every category looked at by Pew, with "likely voters".

    One of the categories was Obama's handling of the embassy crisis. Apparently Romney was the big loser, and Obama shined.

    So, once again, get ready for Biden in 2016. Stick a fork in Romney, he's done.

  • R C Dean||

    Why do Gallup and Rasmussen show the race tied?

    Somebody's gonna be awfully embarrassed in November.

    Seriously, though, the prospect of Obama winning in 2012 by an even bigger margin than he won in 2008 is both fantastical and horrifying.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    Rasmussen has proved to be the most accurate of polls - but they are ALL fairly meaningless until maybe one week out from Election Day. Then you have to take a grain of salt the size of a VW since the samples are over-weighted D or only landline users, etc.

  • pmains||

    IIRC, the RCP averages have been able to pick 49/50 states in 2004 and 50/50 in 2008. IMO, the bias of various polls seems to average out, provided that you include non-MSM polls.

  • Paul.||

    I believe that Pew's claim to fame is that they claim (Let me crowbar another 'claim' in the statement) they've got super-human magic secret sauce on the 'likely voter' question. That seemed to be where the discussion was centered last night on NPR. The Pew Rep kept going on about how accurate their "likely voter" profile was, how it jibed with look-back data yadda yadda.

    I'm not sure if Gallup is doing just a poll poll or a likely voter poll.

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