Now that Mitt Romney is substantially down in nearly all of the polls, the Republicans are driven to desperate spin. And given that we are in a crisis in which our embassies are under attack in a number of countries, politicizing all of this as the Conservatives are, attacking the President while we and by extension the Administration are imperiled, we see a disturbing hybrid conservatism that is dangerously impulsive and in its own way as ragefully imprudent as the actions of those milling around in the streets across the world.
This morning Rudy Giuliani appeared on CNN’s State of the Union. It should not be a surprise to anyone that the man who was “America’s Mayor” after 9-11 is engaging in the rigged spin the bottle party that keeps pointing at Barack Obama with the allegation that his stance toward the Arabs is weak and his support for Israel flawed– that the demonstrations across the greater Arab world at this time prove that Obama’s foreign policies aren’t working.
Moderate Conservatives that one might readily designate as a more mature and circumspect Right, like Peggy Noonan and other staff of the WSJ, and moderates in Congress have understood that for Romney to criticize Barack Obama on the Middle East in the same hours that we were under attack in Benghazi is the gaffe of gaffes.
And numerous foreign policy experts have made the point that it is extremists who have taken to the streets, and terrorists who breached the embassy in Benghazi, killing four American diplomats. Leaders in Egypt, Yemen and Libya affirm as much.
Another concerning lie put out by the Conservatives is that this week Obama “stood up” Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu himself said this morning on Meet the Press that no such thing has happened; that “there was no bus” to be thrown under. Certainly Netanyahu is asking for a “red line,” for the U.S. to join him in laying down an ultimatum to Iran. But his contention that within six months Iran will have enriched uranium is not supported by those in a position to make an educated guess.
In my view, Obama wisely resists going beyond what he has already said: that we will not permit Iran to make/obtain nuclear weapons. We can interpret this by the light of what we understand to be a covert cyber war against Iran here and equally covert mechanisms for ascertaining when and whether Iran succeeds, well in advance of deployment of same.
But to come out swinging on this issue while the Arab World is in turmoil, throwing down “red lines” and establishing “red zones,” the very sort of policy the Republicans themselves would likely have, would be to pour gasoline on the fire.
There is another overarching reality in all of this that we don’t like to think about and that is that we are at war. Nations at war have to take calculated risks, like using drones for surveillance and elimination of terrorists planning to kill us, getting to the bottom of the ambush of our troops in Afghanistan by wolves in sheep’s clothing, i.e. masquerading as one of us, and indeed, obtaining justice for our fallen diplomats in Libya.
In short, the foreign policy scenario is beyond complicated, and the Obama Administration is not shirking a complex, demanding task.
Pressed today by David Gregory, Netanyahu stated that we need to understand that it is our very existence, that Israel exists, that enrages the Muslim “fanatics.” Fanaticism seems an appropriate word for the infantile behavior of throwing garbage at our Secretary of State, running amok in the streets burning flags and setting cars on fire, not to mention storming embassies and putting hundreds of international lives, not just ours, at risk.
No black and white thinking or polemic really has a handle on the events constellating as we bear down to the election. But Netanyahu was careful to affirm that the U.S. and Israel are in concert, that he and Obama are in consultation every day. Every time a Conservative makes a claim or an attack on Obama we should look into the facts. It is only an informed electorate that will make a sane choice on November 6.
Finally, no one can in conscience justify the NATO drone strike gone very bad in Afghanistan today in which women gathering wood were mistaken for Taliban–except to grieve. It is stupid and tragic mistakes like this that diminish us and further the case for getting out of this war sooner rather than later.