OUR DIPLOMATS DESERVE BETTER
BY PRUDENCE BUSHNELL
NEW YORK TIMES
Diplomats don’t often make headlines until something horrible happens. Even then, it is policy and politics that get the attention. We had barely learned of the attack before talking heads began to expound on Middle East policies and the words administration officials used, or should have used, to uphold our national dignity. …What if President Obama and Mitt Romney exercised true leadership by explaining to Americans, including the families and friends of those who died in Benghazi, what diplomacy is all about? Why using words and deeds for peace is as important as using weapons. Why we value our diplomats and what we will do to make their jobs easier, if we cannot guarantee their absolute security.
NEW YORK TIMES
As the new president of an aspiring democracy, Mr. Morsi is still trying to balance competing forces, including his own party, the Muslim Brotherhood, and the harder line Salafis, both of which have a history of antipathy toward the United States. The Muslim Brotherhood and the Salafis suggested on Thursday that they would work to calm tensions. They will have a chance to prove that on Friday when more protests are planned. Mr. Morsi should leave no doubt that violence will not be tolerated. …The United States has provided Cairo as much as $2 billion a year, though some members of Congress are calling for an end to such aid. If Americans and other Westerners cannot trust that Egypt is reasonably safe, there is little reason to back a $4.8 billion International Monetary Fund loan or follow through on promised debt relief and investment.
As irresponsible as Romney’s behavior Tuesday night, even worse was his move to double down at a Wednesday morning news conference, following word of the deaths of the U.S. ambassador and three other American diplomats in Libya. Tuesday night, before the killings were known, was amateurish. Wednesday morning was unconscionable. …There is something disgraceful happening here, but it doesn’t involve a comment by an obscure embassy spokesman. It is Romney’s cynical, dishonest effort to take advantage of this national tragedy for his own political ends.
ROMNEY OWES AN APOLOGY
AFTER THE CAIRO ATTACK
U.S. policies should aim to support the forces in Egypt — and there are many — that want a democratic system and a healthy economy. That means providing aid, ideally even more aid than is planned. But it also means making clear to Egyptians what that aid is for. U.S. support should be conditioned on the Egyptian government’s behavior, both internationally and domestically. …The Obama administration has not been wrong to reach out to the popularly elected government in Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood won that election, and no one doubts that it did so fairly. We either support democracy or we don’t. But the administration has not been forthright enough in making clear, publicly as well as privately, what it expects of that government.
ACT OF WAR, NOT ‘SENSELESS VIOLENCE’
Our ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were not killed by a senseless mob. They were killed by a purposeful group of men armed with sophisticated weapons. These killers had tracked Ambassador Chris Stevens down to the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, where he was much more vulnerable to attack and had less protection. They waged a coordinated, military-style assault. Our four dead are combat casualties as much as anyone in Iraq or Afghanistan. It is tragic that the president is so committed to a leftist worldview that he cannot allow himself to face these facts