Contempt for Your Intelligence: The Administration's Benghazi Response
I remember Jimmy Carter’s abortive effort to rescue the hostages -- the one that ended up with a lot of brave men dead in the desert. I was living in Portugal; by that time Europe’s opinion of Carter was that if he tried to organize a bonk in a brothel he’d miraculously end up with whores who wouldn’t put out. The raid turned into jokes on the Portuguese street within days.
Inexplicably -- and it really is inexplicable -- I felt connected to the U.S., so I was grieving and furious and all of this with no justification and no ability to express it to anyone, because ... well, what did I have to do with it all? I ended up writing a condolence letter to the American Embassy, which sent me back what was as close to a pat on the head and a "there, there, dear" as a typed letter can get.
I never thought I’d feel that way again.
The last week has been a very unpleasant time. While no one is making jokes, our administration might as well have been doing so. Describing the response goes beyond ineffective and counterproductive to "What on Earth are you thinking?" and "Do you think we’re stupid?" It makes me want to punch things, and there is nothing I can punch. So I wake up tangled in bed sheets, locked in mortal combat with the pillows, and I go through the day holding down the rage that threatens to explode.
The problem is not that the administration is lying. Administrations do lie; this is how it works -- sometimes for good reasons, sometimes not. If it were possible to design American foreign policy by a show of hands across the country, we wouldn’t need a government.
Yet right now, they’re both treating us as idiots and acting like idiots in the process. They clearly think we’ll believe whatever they spin, and frankly the quality of the lies reflects how vacuous they are and how simplistic their vision of the world is. Also, it reflects how they completely managed to ignore all of the history of the Middle East and all of our past reactions to the Middle East. That a group of people who have -- supposedly -- excellent educations think this is the way to manage foreign relations both terrifies and infuriates me.
Take the way they’re telling us these were impromptu demonstrations. Riiight. With sophisticated weaponry, on 9/11, these were impromptu demonstrations. Impromptu demonstrations which, by the way, the British press reports our government was warned about days in advance.
Please. You might be that dumb. The American people are not.
Then take their mad spinning, that this is all about the film Innocence of Muslims, which showed to a handful of people once and which has a trailer on YouTube. This "inflamed" the Arab street.
Please. If they’re that inflamed, there’s a cream for that.
Then, they drag the filmmaker from his bed in the middle of the night. Parole violation? Did you give a damn about that violation before the riots? Please. In the glare of camera lights, the administration just made itself responsible for anything anyone will ever post online for the rest of eternity.
Did it occur to them that the chances of the entire Middle East watching that stupid movie at the same time, and getting "inflamed" at the same time -- coincidentally on 9/11, when the clip has been up for months -- are the same as the chances of throwing a coin in the air and it turning into a fluffy duck on the way down? Do they not expect us to think about that? They keep repeating that this is a very bad movie, as though the incantation means they have the right to be upset.
Please. This completely misses the point.
The point is not if they have a right to be upset, if the movie upset them, or if they are little barbarous monstrosities from another century, but whether American citizens have a right of free speech, and whether their government will protect them and defend them in the face of foreign threats.
No one is asking for chest-beating, but you know, armoring our embassies a day ahead of 9/11 would be a good idea. Warning against traveling to al-Qaeda-infested areas would be a good idea. And if all that fails, it would be a good idea to level with the American public and to tell them the truth.
For instance, Hillary should stop with the nonsense already: sure, they were carrying Ambassador Stevens’ body to the hospital. Please. We have seen dead bodies carried in celebration through Arab streets. We know what that looks like. People carrying bodies to the hospital don’t stop to take pictures. That’s the behavior of barbarians flaunting their crimes, sure that they just intimidated the Great Satan.
Since when do people taking the wounded to the hospital drag them so that the poor victims leave bloody scrapes on columns? Yes, there are pictures of this. Yes, you’ll have to look at British papers, because our unspeakable media thinks we’re infants.
And that’s the other part of it. Jay Carney, who would be much improved by a jester’s hat, has informed us that this is "obviously" not connected to the administration’s policies. Pleeease. How is that “obvious”? Whether or not you believe in the infantile notion that extending a hand in peace will get peace everlasting, the rest of the world -- not just diplomatically -- has never believed so. Ask Neville Chamberlain how well the extended hand to Hitler went.
The truth is that there will always be peoples, nations, and individuals who view it as right and just that they rule over and control the rest of us. This really shouldn’t be very hard for our government to understand if they’ve studied any history at all.
This is not kindergarten or an illustrated children’s book. There is no benevolent person smiling when cats and dogs lie down together. The Arab world in particular has a long history of striking out at those they think weak. Because they have a history of continuous inter-tribal warfare and because their religion is notably absent any admonition to respect enemies, they can’t understand someone being able to eradicate them and not doing so. When someone starts talking peace, they either assume we want a respite in order to destroy them later, or that we’re weaker and therefore safe to attack. This isn’t hard to find out if you study history. The culture of the region was like that before Islam. Look at what the Romans say about the Carthaginians.
But they want us to believe the ridiculous, patronizing speech in Cairo, bowing to the Saudi king, and distancing ourselves from Israel have made it impossible for the Arab countries to attack us?
Please! Can you mugs in the administration read some history now and then?
Ignore the movies and the documentaries. By and large they were made by twits like you. Go to the primary sources and read about what motivates nations to war. It might shock you to find out this was going on before colonialism and neo-colonialism, and that humans were fighting in areas of the world where no one could be considered white, for thousands of years before America was a glimmer in George Washington’s eye.
Stop being so all about yourselves. The world was here millennia before your self-involved, preening little egos showed up on the scene. It will be here for millennia after.
The only thing your infatuation with the mirror, and the blinkered admiration and spinning of our media, which tells whatever story you tell them to with neither shame nor thought, does is ensure we’re neither respected nor feared in the Middle East. It’s ensuring our allies don’t trust us and our enemies think we’re harmless.
It’s the perfect combination to guarantee my children and grandchildren have to go back and fight in the Middle East again, particularly since we refuse to explore our own sources of energy and our advanced civilization depends on energy to continue.
Extending the hand of peace? What you just did was turn an eleven-year repression of Islamist nonsense (incomplete and weak as it was) into an escalation to a now inevitable civilizational confrontation. Like Jimmy Carter back in '79, you’ve taken a bad situation and escalated it into something so much worse that future generations will pay and pay and pay for your self-aggrandizing simplemindedness.
I’m not asking you to take a good hard look at yourself -- if you really saw yourself with no pretense you might not survive the experience. At least not if there’s a shred of decency in you -- I’m just asking you to stop telling us lies, or at least to try to make the lies a little less insulting.
While you’re taking obscure filmmakers to the station, the barbarians are telling us this is al-Qaeda’s revenge for our killing some scumbag terrorist. And if you managed to bring the scumbag back to life, they’d shift and say it was because we looked at one of their heroes cross-eyed.
Stop lying, stop spinning, stop acting like these people should love you.
They never have, they never will. Find your spine. Find and punish those who violated the national soil of our embassies and killed our citizens. Reject all visas from countries in which our embassies were attacked. And if they keep up the nonsense, take terrible revenge.
Let them know that no matter how "offended" or "aggrieved" they decide to be, taking out their own horrible leaders is safer than attacking Americans, and they’ll happily go back to killing each other and leave us alone. Keep apologizing, and they’ll think we’re weak and keep killing us.
It’s not that hard. Anyone who went to a kindergarten where adults didn’t hover over children every second can grasp the concept. But no more bungling, no more lying, and no more blaming ourselves for the barbarity of others.