Bill Otis offers another suggestion for how Mitt Romney should address the atrocity in Libya and his opponents’ claims that Romney erred in criticizing the Obama administration’s initial statement about that atrocity. I post Bill’s suggested statement because it is a near-perfect expression of how I view the matter. Whether it would be politicially wise for Romney to make this statement is a separate question. My inclination would be to go for it.
The ostensible cause of the escalating violence against our embassies and our diplomatic representatives is anger by some Muslims at a film mocking the Prophet Mohammed. The United States honors freedom of speech as a universal human right as well as an American constitutional right. That means that the filmmakers are free, without government interference, to produce and market their message; and others, of any religion and wherever they may be, are free peacefully to protest it.
When the protest turns violent, however — and still more when it turns into murder, with a United States Ambassador’s corpse paraded through the streets — a line has been crossed. When I am President, therefore, I will issue the following order to our embassy security personnel: Any deliberate and hostile intrusion onto the grounds of a United States embassy or consulate is to be repelled by force. If the force needed is shooting to kill, that is to be the force applied. American lives and American property are not the playthings for our enemies, whether free-lance mobs or government-controlled mobs. If our enemies don’t know this — and under the current administration, they don’t — it’s time for them to find out.
I also want to note that freedom of speech extends to political debates in the United States, including the debates about the policy and conduct of our country that are the whole reason political campaigns exist, not to mention being at the very heart of the Constitutional framework our forefathers designed. President Obama, who showed no compunction about blaming his predecessor for foreign crises that occurred before January 2009, is in no position to take the scoundrel’s refuge of patriotism by trying to muzzle those who doubt his current strategy of apology and weakness. The President’s policy, which increases the danger to American lives and sovereignty, is a vitally important question in the vote our country will be taking in a little more than 50 days. Stifling a discusssion of that policy is not something the American people want or will tolerate; indeed, stifling robust debate is, as the Democratic Party once understood in the dark days of Joe McCarthy, fundamenatally unAmerican.
The attempt to bully and intimidate Mr. Obama’s critics is not the answer. Indeed it’s not even the question. The question is what is Mr. Obama going to do about this murderous outrage — not what he’s going to say, or the protest notes he’s going to write, or the aimless “consultations” he’s going to plan, or the next hour-long speech he’s going to give.
When our Ambassador’s body is paraded through the streets, the answer is not high-minded talk followed by more high-minded talk. The answer is to act in unapologetic and unambiguous defense of American sovereignty and lives.
Mr. Obama, what are you going to do?
Or, as Sean Connery put it, “what are you prepared to do.”