U.S. diplomats killed in Libya

The U.S. ambassador and three other Americans were killed when Islamist militants stormed the U.S. Consulate.

The U.S. ambassador to Libya and three other Americans were killed this week when Islamist militants stormed the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, acting out the Muslim world’s growing anger over an obscure anti-Muslim video. U.S. officials said that Ambassador Christopher Stevens, 52, died after a rocket-propelled grenade set the consulate ablaze. President Obama condemned the “outrageous attack” and vowed that “justice will be done.” The killings came just hours after a mob in neighboring Egypt scaled the walls of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo in rage over the YouTube trailer for the amateurish film The Innocence of Muslims, which portrays the Prophet Mohammed as a womanizing, child-abusing thug. The purported filmmaker, a man who calls himself Sam Bacile and claims to be a California-based Israeli Jew, said he was sorry about the deaths but still believed in the film’s message. “Islam is a cancer,” he said.

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney quickly accused Obama of sympathizing “with those who waged the attacks”—a reference to a statement by the embassy in Cairothat criticized “misguided individuals” for offending Muslims. The White House condemned Romney for using Stevens’s death to launch a “political attack,” noting that theembassy’s statement preceded the violence.

Romney’s response to this tragedy was shameful, said Steve Kornacki in Salon.com, but hardly surprising. “This is the kind of nonsense you get when one party spends four years convincing itself that a president is something he isn’t.”

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Obama really does bear some responsibility for this bloodshed, said Peter Kirsanow in NationalReview.com. He opted to back Libya’s rebels in their struggle against Muammar al-Qaddafi, ignoring evidence that al Qaida forces were among them. Those militants undoubtedly were involved in this latest outrage. Sadly, Obama’s naïve Middle East policy has yielded only “contempt and aggression.”

Abandoning the Arab Spring would bring far worse results, said Shadi Hamid in ForeignPolicy.com. If we give up on the fledging democracies in Libya, Egypt, and Tunisia, Islamist extremists will fill the vacuum. “Now more than ever, Americans need to hear a clear narrative of why Arab democrats need our support.” Obama should adopt the Bush administration mantra: “Don’t let the terrorists win.” It’s simplistic, “but today it actually makes sense.”

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