GOP lawmakers split over future of Arab Spring

Republican lawmakers showed divisions over the future of the "Arab Spring" after an attack by Islamic militants on the consulate in Benghazi and a separate protest at the U.S. embassy in Cairo.

While some lawmakers urged continued U.S. involvement with the new Arab regimes, others pressed their case for America to sever ties with the Islamic-dominated governments that have emerged from last year's revolts across the Middle East.

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Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), who has called on President Obama to repudiate the election of Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, and cut off aid to Egypt, was one of the first out of the gate. West released a statement Wednesday decrying the U.S. embassy's attempt to diffuse tensions by criticizing a U.S.-made anti-Islam film that sparked the protests in Egypt and Libya.

“President Obama's policy of appeasement towards the Islamic world has manifested itself into a specter of unconscionable hatred,” West said. “How anyone can believe this President is strong on national security and foreign policy is beyond my comprehension.

“President Obama has clearly surpassed former President Jimmy Carter and his actions during the Iranian Embassy crisis as the weakest and most ineffective person to ever occupy the White House.”

The two Senate Republicans who have been leading the charge for more forceful U.S. action in Syria, however, urged the United States not to turn its back on a rapidly changing Middle East.

“Yesterday's attack is a tragic and terrible reminder that — despite the hopes of the Arab Spring — the forces of violent extremism in the Middle East are far from defeated, and that the revolutions inspired by millions of people who dream of freedom and democracy can still be hijacked by small groups of violent extremists who are eager to kill to advance their evil ideology,” Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a joint statement with Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.).

“Despite this horrific attack, we cannot give in to the temptation to believe that our support for the democratic aspirations of people in Libya, Egypt, and elsewhere in the broader Middle East is naive or mistaken," they said.

The senators said it would be "misguided" to believe that the Arab Spring would be defined only by "the dark fanaticism of terrorists."

Separately, McCain put out a tweet applauding Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's short speech Wednesday, in which she vowed to pursue the mission in Libya in conjunction with U.S. allies in the country.

"Just watched an excellent and moving stmt by Sec. Clinton- just the right message and tone," McCain wrote.