A U.S. ambassador is the legal representative of the President of the United States to that foreign country and the land on which the U.S. Embassy resides is considered U.S. territory. The murder of U.S. ambassador to Libya, Christopher Stevens, and an armed attack on a U.S. Embassy are both unequivocal acts of war. I am bewildered and upset by the response from the President and the State Department. The president delivered a weak response with a reference to U.S. respect for other religious beliefs without taking a strong position of power to provide retribution for attacks against Americans. On the morning the president was advised that our ambassador was murdered, he chose to miss the security briefing in favor of final preparations for a fundraiser in Las Vegas.
Secretary of State Clinton laboriously read a statement for 55 minutes in response to the attack and failed to establish any strong clear position on future American action or demands from host countries where the attacks occurred.
The U.S. is a country governed under the U.S. Constitution based mostly on English Common Law and Judeo-Christian principles. Under that Constitution, we have the freedom of free speech regardless of how divisive or ridiculous one might find the statements made. We rely on the free citizen's use of his own wit and intelligence to assign any import to the statement or to respond in rebuttal. We do not kill, injure or imprison people who say things we don't like or disagree with.
The countries involved in the violence this week are Islamic theocracies with Sharia Law Courts that have zero tolerance for other religions. In contradiction to our culture, their government would have no hesitation in the execution, torture or imprisonment of anyone who did anything they would consider irreverent to the Prophet Mohammed.
Our president and State Department should deliver a strong and clear message that their beliefs do not empower them to harm any Americans or destroy any of our property because they disagree or find offensive any statements made by the American public or press. We should also make it clear that we will respond swiftly and with all necessary force against anyone who violates our rights.
Following the deaths of U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens and three other embassy staff, it is realistic to fear other attacks on U.S. diplomats. Our men and women, in and out of uniform, are out there every day, protecting us and our interests. And that will always make them a tempting target.
Protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy in Yemen today and set fire to a building. Like the mob in Egypt on Tuesday, they tore down the American flag. Reports are also circulating of a separate protest in Tehran today with about 500 Iranians chanting, "Death to America." Meanwhile, a onetime mentor of Osama bin Laden called on his followers to replicate what happened in Libya and Egypt.
President Obama has consistently shown more enthusiasm in engaging hostile regimes in the Middle East than in protecting the interests of allies such as Israel. He has shown more concern about restraining Israel from acting than stopping Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
In fact, this week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. is "not setting deadlines" for Iran and still considers negotiations "by far the best approach" to prevent the Islamic Republic from developing nuclear weapons. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's public response was that "Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines before Iran don't have a moral right to place a red light before Israel."
President Obama made matters worse by declining an offer from Netanyahu to meet when Netanyahu visit the U.S. later this month -despite the fact that Obama found time in his schedule for an appearance on David Letterman's late-night comedy show and an interview with Miami rapper and radio personality DJ Laz.
The U.S.' dysfunctional engagement with Israel and Iran is not the only problem. From North Africa through sub-Saharan Africa, al-Qaeda and its affiliates seem determined to plant the flag for new Afghanistan's. Across the Middle East, the Arab Spring is far from unfinished business.
Current U.S. policies clearly aren't working. It is time to change course.
William Perugino is active in local and regional politics and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.