After Further Review...

Responding to those piling on poor Mitt Romney after his diplomacy debacle, some Rs are limping to his defense. It's appropriate to question the president's polices, they say (maybe he jumped the gun by a few minutes, some allow, but still...), it's the liberal press (ignoring that the most stinging criticism came from the right), it's the end of Obama's policy of appeasement.

It's not that I don't think it's fair to criticize any president's foreign policy -- I recall having a few things to say about Bush's. The question is to what extent the attacks on the embassies reflect Obama's policies, and what sort of policies would have prevented them?

Radical Islamists are insane, probably even more than radical Jewish or Christian fundamentalists. To want to kill innocent people, to riot and burn and destroy, over an act of art* halfway around the world is entirely beyond understanding except as crazy. We've seen this sort of thing over and over: wild-eyed and violent reactions to insults to their religion by some party acting on his own, divorced from any government or its people. It's hard to imagine that if Romney were president and had a missile in his pants at all times (is that a missile in your pocket or are you just unhappy to see me?) such reactions would cease. Politics -- whether your sanctions on Iran are tough enough, whether you've rattled your sword enough, or, even, if you've already bombed some place or other -- has nothing to do with quelling insane religious zealotry. In fact, one might predict that if/when there are attacks on Iran, reaction in the Muslim world will make incidents like those at the embassies look like family picnics.

Romney got his facts wrong; he got the timing wrong; he used a horrific act as a (failed) means to score political points. But, more importantly, he fired in the wrong direction. Neither he nor anyone else has -- or could -- propose any policy or action that would prevent this sort of reaction to events out of the president's control. This was about a crazed response to a stupid (and, so it's being said, a crappily made) piece of work, neither of which has anything at all to do with US foreign policy. As long as there are mindless religious zealots in the world, it will never stop happening.

So, sure, there are always questions to be raised about any president's policies. You can call a preference for diplomacy (and tough sanctions) over war and all its horrors "appeasement;" you can call it naive or you can call it wise. But to suggest that what happened in Libya, and continues in Yemen and Egypt and who knows where next, is related to or could have been prevented by particular policies is stupid at best, and cynical political venality at worst.

Nothing will stop this kind of horror from happening unless one of two impossible things occur: god(s) appear(s) and tells his/her/their/its followers to cut that shit out; or the entire population of the world recognizes that we're in this thing alone and learns to deal with it.

* I hadn't even heard about the video in question before the attacks; and as I learn more about it it becomes clear it was a despicable piece of work, made under false pretenses on every level, designed to inflame. And that Terry Jones guy who pushed it, and who now, as usual, denies any responsibility for the result, is as close to the despicable behavior of those murderous rioters as you can be without actually being one. It's a perverse use of freedom of speech, by the makers and the proponents. The rioters are more horrible people, but only by a matter of degree.

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