The murder of the U.S. Ambassador to Libya and three other Americans at our consulate in Benghazi by armed attackers last night is appalling and outrageous. The storming of the embassy compound in Cairo is similarly unacceptable. These attacks are wholly unjustified. The Libyan and Egyptian governments have failed to fulfill their basic obligations to provide effective security for diplomatic missions in their countries. The U.S. should expect receive the full cooperation of the Libyan government in finding and apprehending the murderers responsible for the deaths of our ambassador and his staff. At a minimum, the Egyptian government needs to apologize for the breach in Cairo, and guarantee that nothing like it will happen again.
Inevitably, the Romney campaign chose to use these attacks to make a hasty and stupid criticism last night, which represented the most tasteless political opportunism while also managing to misrepresent the administration’s response to the attacks. Here is the President’s statement on the Benghazi attack. Readers can judge for themselves, but it seems an appropriate initial response to me. There is no “sympathy” for the attackers to be found in that statement, and the Romney campaign’s attempt to use a foolish statement from the U.S. embassy in Cairo as the official position of the administration was typically dishonest. Romney didn’t have much credibility on this front before last night, and he has even less now.
If there’s one thing that Americans should know by now, it is that military interventions don’t necessarily produce gratitude from the people that benefit from them. Even when they do, it is often temporary. At the very least, the attack in Benghazi should make us a bit more skeptical the next time we hear that the U.S. will gain goodwill by taking the side of an opposition movement.