Those too young to have been there might have caught the clip on YouTube — the final scene in the Monty Python classic, "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," where the mad peasants are being dragged away by the hair by London bobbies. They take advantage of the moment to shout at the TV cameras, “Look! The violence inherent in the system!” It was classic strategy of the trained apparatchik of the day to use the moment to politicize a greater purpose. In time things improved. Watergate maybe cleared the air, and people for awhile began to talk straight again. But this is what we are seeing again with Susan Rice on Capitol Hill.
The Obama administration’s clumsy attempt to mollify the Republican opposition in the Senate to a possible nomination of Susan Rice as the next secretary of State has not only opened another can of worms on “Benghazigate” but may have fatally damaged her prospects.
Jay Carney, the White House spokesman, said yesterday there are “no unanswered questions” about Rice’s appearances on the Sept. 16 Sunday shows after the Libya attack and the talking points that she used, “provided by the intelligence community.” “Those questions have been answered,” he said after Rice and CIA acting director Michael Morell met privately with three key senators.
Watching the escalation of fighting between Israel and Hamas in Gaza this week, the words of God as recorded in Deuteronomy 30:19 continue to run through my head: “I call heaven and earth as my witnesses against you right now: I have set life and death, blessing and curse before you. Now choose life — so that you and your descendants will live.”
What the world is witnessing in Gaza is the stark contrast between Israel, a nation and a people that choose life, and Hamas, a bloodthirsty terrorist organization that celebrates and embraces death.
A hundred dead on the ground in Gaza in events that will shake the foundations of diplomacy worldwide, but the big reports this week are on the rise and fall of the Twinkie. Does anyone under 30 even know what a Twinkie is? Possibly a monument to Twinkie — a giant Twinkie by Claes Oldenberg perhaps, or something thrown together on the National Mall by Frank Gehry — will appear; Twinkie as a remembrance to the rise and decline of the American Century.
It’s the final presidential debate on American foreign policy tonight and you can expect Iran’s nuclear program to come up.
But there’s an equally topical and important issue that is extremely unlikely to be discussed by President Obama and Mitt Romney in the context of Iran: the 2012 Helsinki conference on a WMD-free zone in the Middle East. This conference, planned since May 2010 under a consensus decision at the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference, would bring Iran and Israel to the table for the first time to discuss nuclear disarmament in a region threatened by a nuclear arms race.
More than a month after the 9/11 al Qaeda attack on the U.S. Consulate in Libya, which left the U.S. ambassador and three other Americans dead, we are still no closer to knowing who knew what and when, and who should be accountable.
President Obama, speaking after Hillary Clinton took responsibility for the State Department’s security lapse at the Benghazi Consulate, said quite clearly last night that the buck stops at the Oval Office. Yet by refusing to answer a question from an undecided voter during the presidential debate with Republican nominee Mitt Romney at Hofstra University, the president muddied the waters still further. The questioner wanted to know: Who was it who denied enhanced security, and why?
The media are partially to blame for allowing the Obama administration to get away with a narrative that was so clearly ridiculous. The Muhammad movie on YouTube was clearly a pretext for violence. Evidence was apparently known to elements within the administration within the first couple of days that indicated it was a terrorist attack, but the Obama administration purposefully denied that and blamed the violence on the Muhammad movie.
The instinctual inclination to apologize for the movie and offending Muslims and to focus public statements on the movie are indicative of the administration’s tendency to apologize for America.
As a proud, patriotic American, I am embarrassed by the calls that are being made for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice to resign. Not even a month after the murder of our ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and three other Americans, many are politicizing their deaths rather than honoring their service — hardly the behavior that one would or should expect from the citizens of the nation that leads the free world.
An extraordinary wave of change continues to sweep across the Middle East and North Africa. It is a heady time for many who wish to cast off their chains of repression and deprivation and usher in a new age of freedom and democracy. But unless such developments ultimately occur in the context of virtue-driven changes, it is all too easy to reproduce old patterns and replace the current strongman or dictator with another or an oligarchy of exploiters.
Luckily for President Obama and Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney, Afghanistan is not a burning issue on which the November election will be decided.
But while Americans look the other way, U.S. strategy is in disarray. Consider the treatment of Britain, whose defense secretary was only informed at the eleventh hour of Sunday night’s decision to curb joint patrols with Afghan military and police forces after 51 insider killings of NATO soldiers this year. The whole thing smacks of improvisation.