Jay Carney in the White House briefing room today:
This is, to put it bluntly, horrifying. At the very least it is incoherent.
On one hand, the White House press secretary says we know the attacks are completely about a film, and not about the U.S. . . . but then we don’t have any information it wasn’t about a film.
Have we done some investigation? What about reports that people storming our embassies hadn’t seen or hear about the film? And does the administration not understand that radical jihadists use such incidents to spur Muslims to violence? I don’t know how shouts of “We are all Osama!” and the raising of an al-Qaeda flag on 9-11 could be any clearer.
Moreover, if Carney’s statement is really the view of the U.S. administration — namely, that murderous mobs are simply the result of insulting provocation — then why weren’t the initial statement from the Cairo embassy and its reiteration perfectly acceptable? After all the embassy said, in effect, we really, really think that film is awful.
If films are the problem, then the only “security” measure we can pursue in the Obama worldview is to crush free speech. Otherwise, no matter how many speeches this administration gives to soothe Muslims’ feelings, Americans will still be attacked. It’s the free speech, you see.
Carney’s statement on the impossibility of preventing the attacks is also ludicrous: “There was no intelligence that could in any way have been acted on to prevent these attacks.” Really? Or did we just fail to pick up some clue, some piece of information that could have prevented this? A number of news reports contradict Carney, and a group of U.S. senators aren’t buying the idea there was nothing to be done and have called for an investigation.
You might chalk all this up to Carney’s inanity. That is very possible. But unfortunately it does seem emblematic of a complete cluelessness on behalf of the president, who often has acted as if he can devise rhetoric so soothing and follow policies so inoffensive to radical jihadists that he can forever prevent attacks — well, if not for that pesky free speech. This is egomania of a whole new level, and if followed to its natural conclusion, it would require we stop supporting Israel, pull all our bases out of the Middle East, etc.
The administration should have some gumption to stand up and say that there are jihadists out there that want to do harm and we’re not going to restrict the rights of Americans or tiptoe around the world to avoid giving “offense.” Should we not have killed Osama bin Laden because that really got under extremists’ skins?
I have not received answers to my requests for clarification from the National Security Council spokesman or the State Department. I don’t know what this administration thinks and whether it has investigated the incidents, or whether it is just making stuff up. It is not clear at this point whether it came down unfairly like a ton of bricks on a hapless Cairo embassy employee, who could easily have understood (because Jay Carney says it from the White House podium!) that the administration must try not to give offense.
This is no way to run foreign policy. No wonder our foes think so little of us and our enemies are nervous. Both may have sized up this administration just about right.