A disgraceful week in politics

Last week saw the murder of an American ambassador and three others serving their country in Libya at the hands of terrorists, most likely affiliated with al Qaeda or a related group. It also saw the breaching of U.S. embassies from Cairo to Sudan and the burning of American flags everywhere from London to South Asia, not to speak of throughout the Middle East.

Let’s focus first on Barack Obama because he’s the president of the United States. Notwithstanding what can only be called the almost unhinged sycophancy of the press (“presidential”), the president did no service to himself or his country. Here are a few reasons:

• He was more focused on Romney and politics than on terrorism and anti-Americanism.

• He refused to provide any guidance to the American people about why our people were being killed other than “a film” for which he and his staff apologized.

• He refused to articulate more than a tactical response to the wave of anti-Americanism that he had promised his presidency would end.

All these are the responsibilities of the president, even if he is in a race for his job.

Now Mitt Romney, who did himself few favors either. Because he wants to be president of the United States, and every day should be about proving he’s ready. Where did he go wrong:

• No, it wasn’t the early condemnation of the Cairo Embassy’s shameless apology for a free-speaking moron in America; it was incoherence. If you want to play hardball, all to the good, but then explain where you’re coming from. And don’t keep changing your mind about whether you were right.

• Romney’s advisers. Seriously, why say this wouldn’t have happened under a President Romney? Yeah it could have. Leadership doesn’t eliminate the risk that people will hate and want to kill us. What it does do is ensure that America is minimizing those risks, articulating a clear vision and purpose in our foreign policy that serves our values and our interests.

• Romney’s big edge is competence. OK, prove it. Would his consulates have no security detail? Would his embassies ignore warnings that terrorists are active against them? Would his spokesmen inveigh against Americans before condemning terrorists? Gee, I hope so, but I didn’t hear it last week.

Chris Cilizza over at the Post decided that Romney had the “worst week in politics” last week. I disagree. The American people had the worst week in politics. We deserve leaders who have a vision for a Middle East policy that does more than react, more than kill people with drones; a vision for security, safety, and prosperity. Where the hell was that?

 

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About the Author

 

Danielle
Pletka

  • As a long-time Senate Committee on Foreign Relation senior professional staff member for the Near East and South Asia, Danielle Pletka was the point person on Middle East, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan issues. As the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI, Pletka writes on national security matters with a focus on Iran and weapons proliferation, the Middle East, Syria, Israel and the Arab Spring. She also studies and writes about South Asia: Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.


    Pletka is the co-editor of “Dissent and Reform in the Arab World: Empowering Democrats” (AEI Press, 2008) and the co-author of “Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran” (AEI Press, 2011) and “Iranian influence in the Levant, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan” (AEI Press, 2012). Her most recent study, “America vs. Iran: The competition for the future of the Middle East,” was published in January 2014.


     


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