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Are We Going to Do Anything to Those Who Kill Americans?

The logic of the new Panetta/Jeffrey campaign is: if you’re going to acknowledge the Iranian war against the United States, you’ve got to do something about it. What will Obama do? Panetta says we're going to "take it on."

The first test is discouraging: A Syrian mob attacked our embassy in Damascus, and we didn’t fire even a warning shot. The French Embassy was also attacked, and the French guards fired, probably in the air.

Does anyone remember the Iranian assault against our Tehran Embassy in 1979? When a mob attacked, the Marine Guards did not shoot. Indeed, they did not even have live ammunition in their weapons. The Embassy was overrun, hostages were taken, and the countdown for Jimmy Carter had begun.

The first rule is that self-defense is legitimate and important. Failure to actively defend Americans under assault will only multiply the number of assaults against Americans. Dithering encourages our enemies; we have to be decisive.

The second rule is that we must strike — politically in almost all cases, not militarily — directly at the heart of the regimes that organize the killing of Americans. We must support their enemies, who, in both Iran and Syria, constitute a clear majority of the Iranian and Syrian people.

The third rule is that those responsible for killing Americans must be held accountable. When the Quds Force killers appear in areas where we can operate, we should hunt them down. When their political leaders travel, we must demand that Interpol arrest them. And we should strike violently at the terrorist training camps from which the Iranian proxies emerge, as well as against the assembly points for the explosive devices and rockets that are used to kill and maim our men and women.

That means changing the intended recipient of the outstretched hand from the tyrants to the people, and brandishing a clenched fist at the tyrants. Is Obama capable of such a drastic change? It’s very unlikely. More likely he’ll brag about sanctions (that he opposed for years) and continue to make feckless statements about the need for “changed policies” by Assad, Khamenei and Ahmadinejad.

But then, he probably knows that wimps don’t win reelection. Americans despise wimps, and as Machiavelli said, popular contempt is the single greatest danger to any leader.

So we’ll see.  I don’t think Obama is about to embrace the Ledeen Doctrine of unleashing democratic revolution against tyrants that order the murder of Americans. But life is full of surprises.

UPDATE:  SecState Clinton seems to have called for regime change in Syria.  Or so the Wall St Journal says.  Iran, Mrs C?

Barry Rubin isn't impressed, since the "new policy" seems to run through Turkey, heh.  With this administration you have to wait while before "is" gets properly defined...

UPDATE II:  Welcome Instapunditeers!  And thanks to Glenn for the link.