Libya Killings: The Exploitation of Tragedy and Our Corrosive Politics

As a former diplomat I am appalled not just by the act of mindless violence that resulted in the death of four professional American diplomats, but also by the use of this sad event by the Republican candidate for president and his team to exploit it for partisan advantage. This, in my view, is truly unforgivable.

There are enough dangers and complexity in the various areas of trouble in the world without adding to them and saying silly things or to exacerbate hatreds and anger which seems sometimes to be the aim of Gov. Romney and his crew. America’s aim is to make peace and bring democracy and prosperity to the Middle East region and beyond. This fact seems of little worth to the Republicans if there is some gain in risking this goal to gain power.

The Middle East has been a kind of tinder box for as long as I can remember and its politics and national and ethnic makeup call for very wise and judicious handling which was the forte of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and his many colleagues in the region. This is also a critical time in Middle East transition after the Arab Spring. It is time for both parties to continue the tradition of a subtle, balanced, and wise unified approach as taken by Reagan, the first Bush, Carter, Clinton, even the second Bush for some of his time (despite his indifference to its dangers), and now Obama. The simple fact is that Obama has been stronger and more effective against terrorism than the Bush people even came close to. He has shown strength in American determinism but also judiciousness in approach which has gain America much respect.     

Unfortunately, I agree with Senator Kerry’s judgment about Romney when he said, “Frankly I don’t think he knows what he is talking about.” 

At a time when U.S. Embassies are under attack, there is more need for voices of sanity, calm, and reconciliation. Not for stirring up partisan, ethnic, or religious animosities and least of all, in a time of turmoil and sadness of blatantly accusing the president (who has steadfastly fought terrorism successfully and also reached out to the vast majority of peaceful Muslims), of “sympathizing” with terrorists.

We do need a rational and thoughtful debate on American foreign policy but it is best done on the basis of facts, careful study, and thoughtful analysis; rather than the degrading and wrongheaded statements of someone who clearly is out of his depth but just does not know it. 

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