Romney's Libyan gamble


Romney: Administration was 'wrong' to stand by statement

A sombre President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton by his side, appeared in the Rose Garden to condemn what he called the outrageous and shocking attacks which killed the US ambassador to Libya and three others.

He paid tribute to the "extraordinary Americans" who were killed and said the US "rejects all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, but there is absolutely no justification for this sort of senseless violence. Nothing."

It was inevitable that these attacks, in Libya and Egypt, have become political in an election year.

In a way they go to the heart of the practice and theory of the Obama foreign policy. They also raise immediate questions about why there wasn't more protection for the embassies, particularly on the anniversary of 9/11.

But the Republican candidate Mitt Romney has seriously raised the stakes by an immediate, very strong, attack on the president's administration.

'Political football'

The president has the huge advantage that when politics is in play he can try to rise above it simply by appearing presidential.

The secretary of state appeared pretty presidential too, with a very strong statement, a short while before, melding a tribute to the ambassador, condemnation of the attack and an assertion of American greatness.

US President Barack Obama: "There is absolutely no justification for this type of senseless violence"

Mitt Romney is a candidate and didn't have the protection of great office to protect him.

He'd made the attack on the Egyptian embassy a part of his election campaign before the Libyan attack happened.

It is central to his case against the president that he has repeatedly apologised for America and that he is too soft on its enemies.

He seized on a statement issued by the US embassy in Cairo, which condemned "the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims - as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions".

Mr Romney called this "disgraceful".

The White House said it had not authorised the embassy statement but this morning at a news conference, before the president spoke, Mr Romney stepped up his attack.

He said that Mr Obama bore responsibility for statements by his embassies and this one was "akin to an apology" adding it was a "terrible course to apologise for American values" and the White House was sending mixed signals.

He's taking a big risk using these tragic attacks to further this political argument, and some are already outraged.

The former ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk of Brookings, told CNN that it was a shame the tragedy was being used as a political football and that it was not appropriate.

There's no doubt that what happened in Cairo and Libya raises questions about President Obama's foreign policy.

What opponents see as a rejection of American exceptionalism and willingness to apologise for his country, supporters portray as an ability to foster alliances with a lower profile on the world stage and greater sensitivity to other cultures, Islam in particular.

Some will question whether that approach has paid off. The president's sporadic support for the Arab Spring saw its only military expression in Libya where these killings took place. Those who warned that America's enemies might have gain power when the dictators fell, will use this to suggest they were correct.

These are serious questions. But Mitt Romney has put a lot of weight on one press release and may find himself spending rather more time defending his own tactics than attacking the president's strategy.

Mark Mardell Article written by Mark Mardell Mark Mardell Presenter, The World This Weekend

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  • Comment number 25.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    Denver: would you have preferred the dictators remain in power?

    I would have preferred to stay out of it

    Getting rid of the 'dictators' has made things worse

    For example: Before in Egypt women reporters did not have to wear veils on their heads

    Now after the Muslim Brotherhood guy they do

    Who is real dictator: the guy who didnt impose religious law
    or guy who imposes Islamic law?

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Romney is elevating the Constitution to a document surpassing in value the Koran. He shows no regard whatsoever for the incitement to religious hatred in the trailer of the film which provoked the violence. For him there is only one side of the story. He shows once again his incompetence in foreign affairs, as he has done repeatedly. Bush-Cheney were only an opening act for his intentions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Should we give Pearl Harbor victims one minute? Civil War casualties perhaps? When is it long enough that life return to normal?
    I am very much against forcing patriotic or memorial displays. That sort of thing should be personal, not public. If you want to mourn, the first action should be to turn off your TV, not let NBC or FOX dictate when and how you do it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    NBC is the most critical of Romney but the person who owns NBC is also a friend of Obama's

    Not to mention that NBC chose to play Kardashians instead of the minute of silence for 9/11 victims
    which was extremely disgraceful
    that NBC couldn't even give 9/11 victims one minute

    NBC is the Democrat version of Fox

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    Mr. Romney's words today are making me rethink my prior position on my vote.

    Unless he shows he does not mean what he said, I will hold my nose and vote for President Obama.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Do you personally support Obama's decisions to support those in Libya and Egypt who wished for self-determination as opposed to dictatorship, or would you have preferred the dictators remain in power? That's what you need to ask yourself with regards to Obama's foreign policy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    I'd like to know the visa status of that Israeli citizen living in the U.S. who made the film. I think a case could be made for revoking his visa and deporting him for inciting hate crimes. Free speech is one thing, this is more like shouting fire in a crowded theater. We have enough home grown trouble makers, we don't need to import them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Obama's comments shows that America is not only the no.1 country in term of power but also a great country with a great sensitivity that worth to be have as an alliance. Romney's disgrace negative comments simply put common American in abroad in great danger, and clearly shows his intollerant, ignorance & incompetency to be the greatest nation's president & will create more mess than Bush era.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    A "terrible course to apologise for American values"
    Are you kidding me!? This film represents American values? We have surely gone down the rabbit hole. What a desperate jerk.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    If Obama hadn't supported Egyptian protesters
    then Mubarack would probabaly still be in office+
    this attack probably would not have happened

    If Obama hadn't supported Libyan protesters
    then Gaddafi would probabaly still be in office+
    this attack would probably not have happened

    So yes Obama's foreign policy is absolutely to be questioned+
    Romneys response also appropriate

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    Romney - perfect example of a cowboy myth. Very risky, he could lead america to an unending war.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    Romney's attacks on Obama for apologizing for America and its values have always been completely dishonest, lacking any connection to reality. This was no different.

    I can think of few things more despicable than lying about a tragedy to score political points on the anniversary of 9/11.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    The breathtaking ignorance about large parts of the rest of the world is something that I have grown very used to in the six years I have been living here

    As for Romney - before his emergence as the Republican's candidate I very much doubt that he could have pointed to Libya on a map...

  • Comment number 11.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    Romney shot from the hip and responded to a statement that came from the US embassy before the attacks, not from the Whitehouse.
    The statement from the U.S. embassy dealing with the growing unrest condemned the content of the video. Mitt Romney felt that was wrong. Does Romney support the films racist message?

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Hey Mitt....these are the same people you wanted to arm not long ago! Are you even aware of this? And, what you wanted to do then? Where exactly do you stand on this or any issue for that matter? With so much speaking out of both sides of your mouth you may want to invest some of your non-earned income in surgery that widens that mouth a bit considering the quantity of nonsense coming out of it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    Here's a picture of Romney leaving the podium after speaking on the Libyan situation. As we can all see, he looks devastated.

    Oh wait.

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Romney's amoral opportunism whether in politics or at Bain is blatant and plain for all to see.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    People like Romney take countries to wars. USA should have more mature people to run the country otherwise MORE BUSHES will push USA to ground.


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