Killing Americans serves several purposes in the war being waged against us (we have yet to seriously engage against our known enemies): first, it's what the war is all about. They want us dead or dominated. Second, it helps recruitment, which had dropped after the defeat of Iran, Syria, and al-Qaeda in Iraq. Morale had also dropped, and stories claiming that the top American in Libya had been raped before he was executed feeds the blood lust of jihadists, whose language and fantasies are rich with such images. Third, it enhances the power of the unseen moving hand. Fourth, it discourages our current and would-be friends and allies.
No serious person believes that an obscure movie shown to less than a dozen people many months ago was the "cause" of the simultaneous assaults in Cairo and Benghazi. Or that the assaults were unrelated, let alone spontaneous. Or that there was no state actor involved in the operation.
The event is strikingly similar to the "cartoon riots" against Denmark. In both cases. there was no reaction to the original "offense" against Islam. Many months passed before the cartoons - duly altered to enhance the presumed "Islamophobia" - were publicly displayed to justify a carefully planned campaign that turned out to have been crafted by the Iranian regime and its Syrian ally. In the current case, the Iranians were ready with a crowd to demonstrate at the Swiss embassy in Tehran (our surrogate in Iran).
If the cartoon crisis is a good model, it will be a while before we sort out the identities of the various actors. But it seems unlikely to me that those who chanted "Don't shoot, Morsi made me do it" were truth-tellers. Manipulators do not come out early to take credit for their schemes. This thing took time to organize; and simultaneous terrorist attacks are the trademark of Hezbollah (aka Iran) who taught the technique to bin Laden in Afghanistan (or was it Sudan? Senior moments abound).
Whoever masterminded it has scored a win against the United States, and signals to our friends and enemies that killing Americans incurs no cost. All will be reminded of the long, bloody chain running from the bombings of our embassy and the Marine barracks in Lebanon through Khobar Towers to 9/11, whose anniversary was celebrated in the best jihadi fashion in Libya and Egypt. All will see an America that apologizes to our killers as we retreat from Afghanistan and slash our military power. All will be reminded of Clinton's humiliation in Somalia, and Carter's humiliation in Iran, and Reagan's humiliation in Lebanon. If you believe that sanctions can win this war, you should ponder the effect on countries and corporations deciding how rigorously to cooperate with us.
You should also ponder the effect on those nations whose survival is seriously threatened by the grand anti-American alliance, countries that include Israel, Jordan, Brazil and Argentina. If we will not move against our own killers - Iran in the forefront - how can they expect us to help them fight against their mortal enemies? Obama's snub of Netanyahu dramatically underscores this message to all our enemies' targets.
Romney was right to be outraged at Obama's fecklessness, and I suspect most Americans share his strong gut reaction. The anger of the press pundits, trying to make him the villain of the piece, will likely further erode their low standing. Time will tell, but for the moment my main hope is that he will stick to his guns.
In one of those quiet moments that bespeaks the Almighy's refined sense of humor, the State Department has once again reminded us that Iran supports al-Qaeda, just as al-Qaeda is taking credit for a new slaughter of Americans. But Foggy Bottom withholds the other shoe, which is the imperative to go to the source of the killings. It is time, indeed long past time, for serious diplomats and military leaders to resign in protest against our pathetic Iran policy, and call for Western support for the beleaguered Iranian opposition. More than anything, that is what the Iranian tyrants fear.
If we do not support revolution within Iran, we will get more of these attacks, and more dead Americans. In the end, we will fulfill Churchill's prophecy to Chamberlain on the day after Munich: you thought you had to choose between dishonor and war. You chose dishonor, and you will have war. We may yet have time to choose honor - support those who have already risked their lives to defeat our enemies - and avoid the big war relentlessly engulfing us.
Dr. Michael Ledeen is the Freedom Scholar at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He is also a contributing editor at National Review Online. Previously, he served as a consultant to the National Security Council, the State Department, and the Defense Department. He has also served as a special adviser to the Secretary of State. He holds a Ph.D. in modern European history and philosophy from the University of Wisconsin, and has taught at Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Rome.
Dr. Ledeen regularly appears on Fox News, and on a variety of radio talk shows. He has been on PBS's NewsHour and CNN's Larry King Live, among others, and regularly contributes to the Wall Street Journal and to National Review Online. He has a blog on Pajamasmedia.com.
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