Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How terrible and how sobering

Reports out of Libya are that the U.S. ambassador there, Christopher Stevens, and three other members of the embassy staff have been killed in a rocket attack on their car. This follows the news of the killing of a U.S. consular diplomat in an earlier attack on our consulate in Benghazi. That may be referring to the killing of the ambassador. It's not clear.

Our hearts go out to their families.

John Podhoretz writes that this is a time of testing for the United States.
As we saw yesterday in Cairo, with the assault on the U.S. embassy there on the pretext of a cinematic offense against the Prophet, the United States has entered a new time of testing in the long war against Islamism—with assaults on official U.S. property and U.S. personnel. Such tests have always been highly problematic for us; before this becomes an occasion to blame Barack Obama’s weakness and vascillation, it’s worth remembering that the United States has never handled it well. In the 1960s, radicals attacking U.S. embassies became a kind of running joke. The joke ended in 1979 with the taking of the hostages in Iran, which was a state action in the guise of a radical private action.

But after yesterday, the test is Obama’s. The strange spectacle of the dreadful initial response from the U.S. Embassy in Cairo—apologizing for an offense that the United States did not offer and that under any circumstances would not justify an attack—followed by a White House disavowal six hours later (“we didn’t clear it”) can be ascribed to the initial daze of a two-pronged attack that must have left everyone in shock. That lack of clarity must end today, or there will be more of this. Much more.

UPDATE: And now it appears that Libyan mobs were carrying our ambassador's body through the streets.

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