The attacks on the U.S. embassies in Egypt and Libya should not have surprised the Obama administration, nor should the deadly nature of the Libyan attack have been unexpected. As David Pryce-Jones notes:
The murderers of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three of his colleagues in Benghazi were Salafis, that is to say Muslims who believe in returning to the violence and conquest of the early years of Islam. A few weeks ago they narrowly missed killing the British ambassador, but they did succeed in vandalizing the British Second World War cemetery, particularly smashing graves with a Star of David on them. These same Salafis have destroyed Libya’s ancient monuments of Sufism, or popular Islam.
Salafis won about a quarter of the vote in the recent Egyptian elections. Not long ago they almost stormed the Israeli embassy in Cairo, which could have ended in a fire-fight.
Moreover, according to Wanis al-Sharef, a Libyan Interior Ministry official in Benghazi, there had been threats that Islamic militants in Libya might try to take revenge for the death of al Qaeda’s No. 2 commander Abu Yahya al-Lib. As the name suggests, al-Lib was a citizen of Libya and a member of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.
Given these facts, our embassies in Egypt and Libya should have been prepared for the attacks of September 11, and prepared for a fire-fight of the kind that Pryce-Jones says (surely correctly) would have occurred in the event of an attack on the Israeli embassy in Cairo.
So what happened? From all I can tell there was little (if any) preparation, and no real fire fight — just warning shots into the air by those protecting the embassy.
Why? What orders had those guarding the embassies been given by our government?
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Thinking back to 9/11, it seems clear that the road to routing al Qaeda began on that very day, when private citizens, acting spontaneously, took on the hijackers of Flight 93 and thwarted their planned attack on Washington, D.C. But yesterday, our government, despite having had plenty of time to plan and prepare, apparently failed to fight back.
That sad reality is no more surprising than the attacks themselves. The Obama administration’s approach to radical Islam has always been accommodationist. Indeed, this pathetic posture can be traced all the way back to 2008 campaign, when Obama insisted, over the objections of Hillary Clinton, that the U.S. should negotiate with Iran without preconditions, to demonstrate to the mullahs that the U.S. is no longer arrogant.
Most recently, Clinton and Obama took the side of the Muslim Brotherhood in opposing the Egyptian military’s efforts to act as a brake on the runaway Islamic extremism and dictatorial tendencies of President Morsi. The Egyptian military was the only meaningful force in that country with any affinity for the U.S. Perhaps, like the U.S., it had been too arrogant for Obama’s taste.
In any case, both the policy and the ethos of the Obama adminsitration is to stand in denial of the Islamic extremism that’s rampant in the Middle East, place the blame for any extremism on past policies of the West, and placate our enemies through conciliatory statements and gestures.
No wonder we were unprepared for yesterday’s attacks. No wonder that, in response to the attack in Egypt, our embassy there issued a craven statement apologizing, in effect, to the attackers — a statement that the State Department surely had to clear. No wonder that, so far as I can tell, the body count for the other side is zero.