Life is sometimes violent and incomprehensible. Such has been the case since September 11, 2001 stripped Americans of their innocence, opening eyes to global realities, and opening hearts to fear and paranoia. Now eleven years to the day in the midst of our mourning and remembrance, the US Consulate in Libya has been attacked leaving three embassy staff dead including our Ambassador.
The inevitable result of such an action by Islamic extremist has been a measured reaction by the government and second guessing and knee jerk reaction from without the executive branch. It is the second guessing and gut reactions that worry me more than the attack. Of course I am outraged and angered by the murder of our representatives abroad. I also believe that such actions by enemies are taken not to make a point, but to derive specific responses that broaden their base and weaken the already shaky perceptions of the United States.
The immediate criticisms of the Executive Branch’s handling of this current act of terror is more politically than practically motivated. The degree to which Governor Romney has attacked the Obama administration already shows a lack of geo-political vision for the larger picture by putting crass nationalism ahead of any substantive thought on the issue. Today one of Governor Romney’s sons was interviewed in regards to this on 850 KOA radio out of Denver. He said that his Father was just expressing his outrage over what he believed to be a demonstration of an incoherent international policy. Outrage can be understood, but instant criticism before all the facts are out and understood is not how a global leader should respond, and at its worst seems an action of opportunism rather than a demonstration of capabilities.
Meanwhile, the gut response of some of some of the populace has been a call for a more dogged effort to hunt down and kill all Islamic extremists (a very good friend of mine made such a comment recently). Even on its face and in the simplest terms this does not seem possible or practical. Throughout the history of the world, oppression has only resulted in revolt and violence, and a more sustainable peace has been best achieved by inclusion rather than destruction of enemies.
Simply setting the special forces at our command loose for wholesale slaughter of a gorilla foe may result in a momentary weakening of that foe, but more critically would draw even more people to their cause by the martyrdom it would create. By reacting with unrestrained vengeance, we play into the hands of the extremist instead of effectively combatting and negating them.
Both sides of our predominantly bipartisan political system share blame in current affairs. Too often we react with short term goals in mind and insufficient thought given to long term consequences. Policies of both Democrats and Republicans have resulted in failed nation building, and worse the deaths of American soldiers and citizens spanning more than a decade since we first adopted those policies to make us safer.
Show anger and indignation, but also take time to think. I don’t have answers, but I am also not running out to kill Islamic extremist with an AR-15 and thousands of rounds of ammunition so easily obtained from gun shows and the internet. That such atrocities are still being dealt to us only shows us that our policies over the past decade or longer are seriously flawed in some fashion. If we do not search out and address these flaws, anger and violence will still be our true masters, and the cycle of terror and fear will continue.