What Closing American Diplomatic Facilities Means
The U.S. closed its embassies and consulates in 21 Muslim countries on Saturday and Sunday, August 3rd and 4th. There are four lessons in this decision.
First, it says something about the countries in which these facilities are located. A nation's embassy and consular offices are considered part of that country's sovereign territory. Ambassadors and other official diplomatic personnel are supposed to be sacrosanct. A host nation is obligated to protect the property and officials attached to an embassy and/or consulate.
As we learned last year, in Cairo and especially in Benghazi, Middle-Eastern governments cannot, or will not, insure American territory's and personnel's safety. There have been other occasions -- Tehran, 1989 comes to mind -- when governments hostile to the U.S. permitted, and perhaps encouraged, mobs to assault U.S. facilities and officials.
Why is the Obama administration taking such extraordinary action? Evidently, the administration believes it has evidence of specific threats against American facilities and citizens from al-Qaeda and "affiliated organizations." In addition to shutting down diplomatic facilities, the U.S. State Department has warned Americans in Muslim countries to guard against terrorist attacks; the warning expires August 31.
Wasn't the administration's contention just last year that, with the death of Osama bin Laden and other leaders, al-Qaeda was broken, defeated, and on the run?
In the immediate aftermath of the assaults on our diplomatic facilities and murders of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya on September 11-12, 2012, some wondered if the Obama administration's misstatements about what had happened and why were because its claims about having won the war on terrorism would have been revealed as a tissue of lies. (Above all, of course, the Obamians had to gloss over Benghazi until after November 6, 2012. Sadly, they got away with it.)
Now, Benghazi is just one of the "phony scandals" that Republicans have trumped up. Or, as Obama's spokes-kid, Jay Carney, has said, it happened "so long ago" that Americans should develop amnesia about it.
If there are believable threats of terrorist attacks from al-Qaeda and its allies, could we be forgiven for wondering how credible the administration's claims about foreign policy successes in the Middle East, or anywhere else on the globe for that matter, are? (Anyone who brags that "Osama is dead and GM is alive" deserves a very jaundiced eye.)
While we're focused on Obama, let's ask just what, if anything, the U.S. gained from the repeated groveling he did in places like Cairo during his apology tours in the early days of his presidency. Have the Obama-Holder decisions to treat radical Islamist terrorists as common criminals paid off in improved feelings about America "on the Arab street"? What have the administration's precipitous retreats from Iraq and Afghanistan done to improve how Muslims view the U.S.? Can anyone demonstrate that treating the Fort Hood murders by Nidal Hasan as just "workplace violence," and not an act of radical Islamist terrorism, has gotten America anything in terms of enhanced Muslim goodwill? Despite Obama's promises to bring Islamic extremists who assaulted our diplomatic facilities and murdered four Americans in Benghazi in September 2012 "to justice," the main perps -- who are well-known -- remain "free as a bird"; has that enhanced Muslims' feelings about the U.S.?
If polls of Muslim populations' views of America since Obama was immaculated are any indication, the answer to all these questions is "no."
We come, at last, to the final lesson to be gleaned from announcements that American diplomatic facilities are closed -- an extremely bitter and hard one to accept. Yet it must be, if we are to learn anything of value from the Obama administration's announcement.
Bluntly put, America is in decline! In just a few short years -- since January 20, 2009, to be precise -- the world's most powerful superpower has been reduced to what one Chinese communist warlord said it was in the 1960s: a paper tiger. (I don't like writing this. Frankly, it makes me mad as hell.)
Several years ago, shortly -- I think -- after Obama was immaculated, Rush Limbaugh talked about meeting two men who claimed they had come to the Pentagon to "manage America's decline." (When I first heard that, I couldn't believe my ears. Now I know that Rush was right.)
A few facts about international relations generally and America's military capabilities in particular will put America's plight into better relief.
Liberals are loath to admit this, but nation-state relations are governed by the naked use of power. It's not a case of how many planes, ships, and soldiers a nation has -- although that's a good place to begin -- but whether that country's leaders are ready, willing, and able to use military force to achieve their goals in the international arena.
There is one fundamental lesson of international relations that Western democracies have to relearn and relearn: weakness tempts aggressors. In Europe during the 1930s, for example, the democracies' efforts to appease Hitler led to World War II. American military weakness in the Pacific paid off at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.
Will history repeat itself now that American military flaccidity temps Islamic aggression?
Since January 20, 2009, Obama has enacted a series of policies that have seriously depleted America's ability to project power beyond our borders. Weapon systems -- such as the Air Force's F-22 stealth fighter -- that had the capacity to sweep the skies of any opponent's aircraft for the next generation -- have been canceled, and other decisions -- such as putting women into combat and ending the "don't ask, don't tell" proviso regarding open homosexuality in the military, thereby adversely affecting military morale and combat efficiency -- reveal this administration's blind adherence to ideological purity over military necessity.
After reducing the military budget by nearly $700 billion, and after accepting draconian cuts to military spending in the guise of the Sequester -- which originated out of Obama's White House -- the American military faces the following prospects: (1) fewer naval vessels on the high seas than at any time since just before World War I, (2) a smaller air force than at any time in history; and (3) an army that couldn't defeat Mexico, let alone mainland China or a rejuvenated Russia.
During the Carter years in the 1970s, we heard a lot about our "hollow military." We saw what that got us in Iran between 1979 and 1981. Don't forget also that American military weakness tempted the Soviet Union to invade Afghanistan in 1979.
Will someone like Ronald Wilson Reagan come along to restore America's military strength once Obama leaves office in 2016, assuming he does?
I'm doubtful, and the primary reason is that there seems so little public uproar over the latest instance of America's weakness. The days of "speaking softly but carrying a big stick" are probably over. Still, one wonders how far this country's ability to defend its own diplomatic facilities and personnel will have to fall before there is a popular demand for change.
If the latest announcement by the Obama administration says anything, we've not reached that point...yet.