Moment of silence
Romney fails his first test on foreign diplomacy
Published: Friday, September 14, 2012
Updated: Monday, November 5, 2012 20:11
Sept. 11 is a familiar date, and this year it brought another tragedy: the assassination of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens during an attack on the U.S. Consulate.
The hours that followed the attack were critical, requiring diligence and empathy from the country’s leaders and giving a chance to those seeking office to prove they could handle foreign diplomacy.
In that crucial moment, Mitt Romney failed.
There is still a lot of ambiguity and speculation on the motive of the attack. Libya’s Deputy Interior Minister, Wanis al-Sharif, said it was suspected to be an anniversary attack, using the anti-Islam film protest that was going on as a cover. United States Intelligence doesn’t think it was premeditated.
What isn’t unclear, though, is what Mitt Romney feels and what he would do if given the power.
The nominee has faced months of criticism from the GOP, which has claimed that he has failed to go after the President hard during campaigning. So Romney took the initiative to respond to those criticisms on a day when he should have kept his mouth shut.
Instead of reassuring confidence, his response was to call out the U.S.’ Cairo Embassy for apologizing for the film (an attempt to calm down the riots) and claim we were apologizing for “America’s values.”
Whether Romney’s comments were even remotely reasonable is arguable, but cause for concern should be on his timing. His original statement was released Tuesday night while the attacks were still in progress and after a death had already been confirmed.
President Obama, despite distancing the administration from Cairo’s statement, did what needed to be done: he sent in backup at world embassies and promised that justice would be done.
For Romney, it was an opportunity to gain some points. In his mind, better there was no better time to discuss foreign policy than while our government officials were under attack. His idea of a discussion was to point fingers and generalize an entire nation based on extremists, to call out an Embassy’s attempt to keep peace.
So if Romney’s goal was to alienate the people of Libya or add fuel to the fire, then he won this round. But he forgot this wasn’t just a game or an opportunity to get ahead in the race; it was a time to repair wounds and stray away from reopening old ones.
We were vulnerable in Libya, so the extremists attacked, and then so did Romney.
This was the world’s preview of Commander in Chief Mitt Romney. It’s not looking good so far.