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.

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  • rate this

    Comment number 45.

    Romney needs a "black swan" event to boost his odds. Till November 6 he will turn each and every event on the world stage into a personal failing of President Obama and offer his alternate view of reality. If he becomes president, he will find the job isn't as simple as he images. Flip-flopping on the world stage costs lives. It is a "cost of business" he would ignore. I will not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    A film, a drawing ... whatever, has always been offensive. But the reaction inLibya and Cairo ... is in essence, a vial commemoration of September the 11th, which seems not have been picked up. A testimony to the failings of the Obama administration befriending fundamental islamists who have hijacked "the arab spring" ... befriend them if you cannot defeat them. Romney had to put his foot down

  • rate this

    Comment number 43.

    The right of representation and self-determination was one of the primary reasons the Revolutionary War was fought in the US and that's mean Obama support in Libya and Egypt for self determination is in line with American value.
    Romney should NOT identify his values the greater American. We respect responsible free speech. Vote for Romney and his idiocracy will lead the Americans to the WW3

  • rate this

    Comment number 42.

    Sometimes a situation requires one to refrain from being political and to rise above presidential ambitions. It is in these moments we find the measure of a man or woman.

    These events are deeply saddening and the fact they have been made party political is very disappointing. Hopefully the focus will return to those people who died in service of their country.

  • Comment number 41.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 40.

    The issue is was Obama right in taking sides in the UN peace resolution 1973 , were they right to push the country over the brink and destroy the infrastructure and natural leaders and allow the country to revert to tribal loyalties and gangs .

    As` a result the country is a car wreck , even in Gaddafi's time there was never an open season on US Ambassadors.

    They is were wrong !

  • rate this

    Comment number 39.

    It is pretty obvious to most people outside of the USA that Romney is a lightweight in comparison to Obama. But will US citizens realise that Romney's disingenuous approach to this tragedy actually puts US citizens' lives at risk in the wider world? Will the US media, for example Fox News, reliably report the inaccuracy of Romney's unpatriotic criticism of US diplomats in Egypt? Doubtful.

  • rate this

    Comment number 38.

    Mr. Romney is playing to those Americans who know little about history nor details but are always up for expressing patriotism with military action.

    President Obama's actions will make more sense to those with some knowledge.

    Which is to say that Governor Romney is playing a strong hand. Tell me when a voice of restraint ever beat a voice of aggression against foreign "others."

  • rate this

    Comment number 37.


    Thats b/c Mubarack didn't want the extremists to take over-
    he wanted Egypt to be moderate country


    Foreign policywise
    Obama thought taking the Egypt+Libya protesters side they would like USA
    just like Domestic policywise
    USA thought electing Obama would improve relations between races here

    Instead the opposite happened in both cases- our relations have worsened

  • rate this

    Comment number 36.

    I would act upset... just as the masses of people who started the Arab Spring acted. They did what they thought was right, and Obama did also. Tough choices for a tough position.

  • rate this

    Comment number 35.



    It seems the Israelis are as much in the dark as your good self.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    I agree it would have been better for the west if Murbarak/Gaddaffi had not been ousted but Brotherhood are not making women wear viels or imposing any religous law they giving them the choice to wear head coverings if they wish. Murbarack impossed the outright ban on head coverings. If a politician over here stopped you or anyone from wearing religous symbols how would you react?

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Just another time Romney opened his mouth without thinking things through.
    He was attempting to appeal to the far right, some of whom are sabre rattlers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Sorry LucyJ,
    But if you back, and refresh yourself on your earlier mention about women now being forced to wear head-scarves in Egyptian media, you should know that is incorrect. Previously, the old regime forbid women to wear their tradition coverings. The new government allows it... but doesn't force it. Actually, this opens up more opportunities for women to appear on television.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    Obama: "boss of bosses" Romney:"go beat em "all" up"! The Dead: (men doing their job) The Killers: (radicals) The Boss: "bring all responsible to justice, That is how our system works."

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    Scott: inciting hate crimes

    So now freedom of speech is a hate crime?

    South Park has made fun of God many times
    but when they did it to Mu-ed then suddenly the writers were threatened by extremists

    Look what happened to Theo van Gogh for making that film

    Or the cartoonists

    I am tired of people being threatened by Muslim extremists for freedom of speech or b/c they are not Muslim

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    It is utterly amazing that we have so many left wing defenders of the feckless President that has always led from behind. Have you ever heard of any out cry from this President when the Christians in these Mid Eastern countries are being slaughtered by the Islamists? Of course not!

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    There are a number of questions?

    Why is it believed the attack was pre-planned and the protests a diversion?
    Why has Canada cut diplomatic ties today with Iran and cosied up to Israel?
    Netanyahu was snubbed by the US in setting a red line for a September attack on Iran?
    The US elections are in 6 weeks, the timing is critical?

    These convergent circumstantial facts suggest more to this story.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    The next questions would be, have the Egyptians chosen their new leaders, or are the new leaders somehow being imposed upon them? Do the majority of Egyptians want islamic law or not?
    As for the previous leader, a dictator is a dictator, whether he supports an Islamic-based or secular society. Before the revolution, the Egyptian people definitely had no power.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    The nit-picking is just about words for now. Those will be unimportant once action is taken. The President cannot permit the murder of an ambassador without retaliation. If the Libyan authorities are unable to deliver the perpetrators, the US will have no choice but to get them itself. Anyone near them should move aside and take cover.


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