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Welcome Back, Carter: Egyptian Protesters Attack US Embassy, Tear Down Flag

It's starting to feel like 1979. In that year, a US president turned on a flawed but vital ally in the Middle East. That turn helped usher in the Islamic Revolution in Iran, turning a nation that had been the lynchpin of US interests in the Middle East into a violent enemy.

Now it's 2012, and President Obama's call for the ouster of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has led to the slow-motion capture of Egypt by Islamists.

In Tehran in 1979, a student attack on the US embassy led to a protracted hostage crisis.

Today, protesters in Cairo attack the US embassy there, supposedly over a film that insults Mohammed. According to reports, about 2000 Islamist protesters have surrounded the embassy and about 20 of them have scaled the wall. Reportedly, there are no American personnel inside the embassy. The protesters took down the American flag and attempted to replace it with a black flag to symbolize Islam's conquest.

As if to make sure that conquest proceeds apace, the US State Department released an appalling statement that amounts to bowing to the Islamists' offense:

The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims – as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others

The fact that the US embassy in Cairo would issue such a statement to Islamists, on 9-11 of all days, is a deep low point in American history.