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News Was there anything wrong with the Cairo US Embassy's statement

  1. Sep 13, 2012 #1

    mheslep

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  3. Sep 13, 2012 #2

    Evo

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    Re: Political Spin

    Very bizzare, so Romney views all muslims as terrorists?

    Ok Romney, try to spin your way out of that lie. Someone in his election staff needs to do some real damage control there, IMO.

    Not to mention that Romney appears to have thought that the embassy message was written after the attack in Libya. OOOPS.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2012
  4. Sep 13, 2012 #3

    Evo

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    This has been split off from the "Political Spin" thread.

    The topic is "Is there anything wrong with the US Embassy in Cairo's repsonse to the movie about Mohammed?"

    I don't see anything wrong with what was said, per se, but I don't know what the policy is on US embassies commenting on things such as the film. So perhaps the issue is what embassies can say without Whitehouse approval?
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2012
  5. Sep 13, 2012 #4

    arildno

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    i didn't know "respect" for other people's religions is a democratic cornerstone.
    I'd say "tolerance" for other people's religion is such a cornerstone. You can perfectly well tolerate what you condemn, despise and make mock of, but not respect it.
     
  6. Sep 13, 2012 #5

    Evo

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    It does sound like it was written by a high school student, and not someone holding a position of authority at an embassy. It ended up being removed because it did not have White House approval. It appears, at least to me, that someone posted it to appease the muslim population prior to rioting inside the embassy compound in Cairo.

    The message by the embassy was before and unrelated to what happened in Libya.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2012
  7. Sep 13, 2012 #6
    I have a problem with someone saying speech on certain religious topics is abusing the freedom of speech.
     
  8. Sep 13, 2012 #7
    Perhaps it's important to show what Obama had to say, in his own words.

    From: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/election-2012/wp/2012/09/12/obama-defends-cairo-embassy-staff/ [Broken] but the quote is everywhere
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 6, 2017
  9. Sep 13, 2012 #8
    It's dangerous to work in Embassy in a nation that's still very fragile and has tons of unemployed youths who look forward to set buildings on fire. Is it really wise nitpicking on people whose lives were in danger?
     
  10. Sep 13, 2012 #9
    Re: Political Spin

    Romney acted too immature and dangerous. He should have learned something from acting hasty from past 10 years. I wonder if he would have had gotten all the US embassies, in Islamic countries, burned if he were the president.
     
  11. Sep 13, 2012 #10

    BobG

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    There wasn't anything wrong with the Embassy's statement, per se.

    I would have worded it differently. Freedom of speech means things individual Americans say do not necessarily represent the policy of the US government nor even the opinion of the majority of Americans (the concept that a government would not clamp down and eliminate speech they disagree with is a hard concept to get across to people that have lived under more authoritarian regimes).

    I have no idea why they included unrelated info and why they worded it the way they did.

    However....

    The initial response of the Obama administration to throw the embassy staff under the bus for their statement was wrong.

    Becoming an ambassador to Canada, or some other mostly benign place, is a perq of knowing the President personally (and probably having given significant help on his campaign). But when it comes to places like the Middle East, where true diplomacy is needed, you appoint a true professional - a professional that's also going to have the confidence and competence to act on his/her own without having to check back with Washington.

    Embassies in hot spots of the world always have a bit of a love/hate relationship with the State department heads back home. It's not unheard of for embassies to ignore guidance from Washington simply because the embassy staff living in the country believe they have a better grasp of the situation than someone reading messages and watching CNN. When Washington is sure they know what they're doing and how what they're doing will have a more significant impact on the big picture, regardless of its effect on the embassy's country, then they force the issue and personally intervene to make the embassy follow their directions.

    But, quite often, the embassies get away with running their own show because they truly do have a better grasp on the local situation. I wouldn't personally second guess the wording, especially as to how it will be translated into Egypt's language, even if the English version doesn't seem very impressive to me.

    Nor can I take the White House statement disavowing the embassy statement very seriously when the administration more than likely chose the Ambassador and his staff because they could act independently; not in spite of their independence.

    Incidentally, the killing of Chris Stevens probably won't be seen very favorably in Libya, either. He had done a very good job of establishing relations with many people and organizations in Libya was very popular there.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2012
  12. Sep 13, 2012 #11
  13. Sep 13, 2012 #12

    mheslep

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    I think both the Administration and Gov Romney disagree. So do I.

    As to the tendency of foreign embassies to go native, no doubt it is hard to both fully understand the culture and politics surrounding the embassy while doing the job, which is nonetheless to represent the interests and peoples of your own country. But being hard is why foreign services officers are sent on these gigs; if it was not hard anybody with a passport could do it.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2012
  14. Sep 13, 2012 #13

    Evo

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    I don't find this "throwing the embassy staff under the bus".
    http://www.politico.com/politico44/2012/09/white-house-disavows-cairo-apology-135247.html

    It was Bush that first appointed her to Ambassador to Pakistan, Obama switched her to Egypt, so I don't really get your point. Also, it was reported that she wasn't at the embassy at the time.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anne_W._Patterson
     
  15. Sep 13, 2012 #14

    SixNein

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    Re: Political Spin

    A better question is does he need to spin his way out of that lie?
     
  16. Sep 13, 2012 #15

    Evo

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  17. Sep 13, 2012 #16

    SixNein

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  18. Sep 13, 2012 #17
    Administration only tried to distance itself when the trouble-maker Gov made a big deal out of the Cairo US Embassy's statement. The Embassy statement wasn't great but what people are gaining here by making the embassy job even more harder from the comfort of their cozy homes?

    Embassy criticism seems unnecessary.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2012
  19. Sep 14, 2012 #18

    arildno

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    anyhow, it was a big mistake of Romney to insinuate that
    EITHER
    a) Obama sympathized with the actual perpetrators
    OR
    b) that all Muslims sympathized/collaborated with the perpetrators.

    from what I read, Obama sympathized with what he regarded as a legitimate grievance among broad layers of Muslims.
    That's quite a different thing, and romney was culpably unclear about that.
     
  20. Sep 14, 2012 #19

    russ_watters

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    Edit: timeline corrected

    I was working on a long post yesterday, but didn't get to post it because I was busy last night. I'll post it all here, but some has cross-over implications on the other thread and some has already been argued back and forth a little:

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    This is a tragic event, which carries with it some interesting political implications. For this, a timeline and background are critical:

    --Protests started in Egypt in the afternoon (local -- morning in the US) on September 11. This included what many in the media characterized as "storming" the embassy. People scaled the walls, but didn't actually enter beyond a few feet.

    --The Embassy in Cairo released this statement in the morning on 9/11, but the exact timing I can't pin down because the statement has been deleted:
    --The attack in Benghazi started at about 10:00pm local time, or about 4:00 pm EDT if my math is correct (EDT is -4 and Libya is +2 I think).

    --At 10:09 EDT on 9/11 (4:00 AM, local), Romney's campaign issued this statement:
    Note: at that time, it was known that one security officer had died. It was not known that the ambassador had died....

    --Clinton spoke on Wednesday morning (9/12) about the attack:
    http://foxnewsinsider.com/2012/09/12/transcript-video-hillary-clinton-addresses-deadly-attack-in-libya/#more-95225 [Broken]
    [IMO, a very good speech]

    -At 7:55 pm EDT, she posted this on twitter:
    https://twitter.com/StateDept/status/245717059693080576

    After Romney responded, he was attacked heavily by media and pundits alike, in one press meeting fielding multiple questions in a row, from separate reporters asking him if he stuck his foot in his mouth. CNN featured prominently the heavily anti-Romney Op-ed, much quoted here.

    Fox, predictably had this ant-Obama/liberal media op-ed:
    http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2012...-out-at-romney-for-daring-to-criticize-obama/

    My take? Romney, whether through prescience or luck, got the Obama administration response right. Calling Romney a "liar" over this is silly and wrong. Several elements to this:

    1. The US Embassy in Cairo speaks for Obama. That's its purpose - that's why it exists. That the statement was taken down implies that Obama didn't like the statement and didn't pre-approve it (more on that later). But regardless, Obama chose the ambassador as his spokesperson. She is part of the administration and therefore that part of the statement by Romney is factually accurate.

    2. Romney's statement was made during the second day of protests and before the severety of the attack on the second day was known. It referenced the "attacks" and "missions". So while Clinton's response to the attack on 9/12 was the first response to the attack on 9/12, the embassy's response to the protests on 9/11 -- labeled by the media as "storming" -- was indeed the "first response" to the "attacks". So that part of Romney's statement is also factually accurate. Spun by lumping them together -- and before the severity was known? Certainly. But accurate nonetheless.

    3. Clinton's speech on 9/12 was great. But her twitter post echoed the sentement of the embassy statement, making Romney's even more right than it was before (yes, that's possible). More on this later.

    The liberal side of the media is heavily focusing on the timing and supposed inaccuracy of Romney's statement, and people on PF are following their lead.

    Next is the angle of it being wrong to criticise a sitting President in wartime/crisis. Please: George W Bush. 'nuff said.

    And finally, the actual content of Romney's statement. This should, of course, be the focus of our discussions, but apparently, isn't even worthy of discussion, since it isn't mentioned in the CNN anti-Romney article and the first mention of it on PF jumped right to Romney and how this presumed misstep will hurt him. And why ignore the content of his speech? Because he's right. This is an opinion of course, but my perception is that much of the anti-Romney vitrol is a result of people knowning he's right and wanting to bury discussion of it.

    The embassy statement, while understandable in the face of fear, was conciliatory. It explicitly agreed with the purpose of the protests: the protests were (ostensibly) to condemn the video and the embassy broadly and specifically "condemned" (they used that word twice) anti-Islam speech. That is, by definition, sympathizing ( http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/sympathize )

    Where it gets tricky is that the bulk of the protesters were probably just being sheep. They probably didn't know they were being duped into acting as cover for an actual attack. So they may or may not have agreed with the attack. Still, when everyone is mixed together in one group, they are what they are and the embassy addressed them as a group -- terrorists and all.

    "Apology" may be a little more difficult, but supporters of Obama on this tend to require actual usage of the word (the word "sympathy" wasn't used either, of course). I tend to take a broader view and I think in other contexts, even Obama supporters would agree: an "apology" is an expression of sorrow for a wrong, whether the word "apology" is used or not. From the dictionary:

    1. a written or spoken expression of one's regret, remorse, or sorrow for having insulted, failed, injured, or wronged another: He demanded an apology from me for calling him a crook.
    http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/apology

    If we demand that the word be used in order to be considered an apology, sure, it doesn't qualify. Also, the embassy didn't make the insult, so it can't realistically apologize for something it didn't do -- or can it? The protesters were there because they saw the US embassy as a proxy for the speaker of the insult. And the US embassy condemned the insult, acknowledging the "wrong" for the purpose of mollifying them. So the sentiment is certainly there.

    Clinton's twitter post was concise and non-specific (3, continued), it was also completely and utterly wrong. I don't mean factually, I mean as a matter of position. The US government does not exist to protect people from being insulted. That is not part of its mission at all. In fact, the first Amendment exists precisely to protect the people who say the unpopular things, lest they be bullied by the government into keeping quiet. Clinton is supporting the wrong side of the argument. No that doesn't mean she condones violence, but it does mean that on the issue of anti-Islam speech, the Obama administration is on the side of the terrorists.

    Obama might have had a leg to stand on in claiming the embassy spoke out of turn, but when Clinton reiterated the sentiment, that leg collapsed. Either way, that wouldn't have made Romney a liar because the error was still the embassy's, not Romney's.

    What makes this worse is that freedom of speech is essentially the key precipitating concern behind the Arab Spring. Governments -- including Egypts -- were overthrown largely because they violently suppressed non-violent protests. What's interesting though is while Egypt's government is calling for prosecution of the filmmaker, Libya's is calling for prosecution of the terrorists: http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/13/world/arab-leaders-reactions/index.html

    So in a cruel, twisted irony, our leaders are dithering on one of the most important freedoms we have and undercutting the point of the Arab Spring in front of the whole world including those very governments involved. The Libyan ambassador speaks against terrorism and in support of freedom and praises the deceased ambassador for being a part of that fight in Libya while simultaneously Obama administration officials are undercutting the very freedom that they fought for.

    It goes a little deeper, though. A US official is quoted as saying:
    http://www.cnn.com/2012/09/12/world/africa/libya-consulate-attack-scene/index.html

    See, this isn't about whether Romney is trying to score points with this misstep by the Obama administration, it is about the Obama administration allowing itself to be manipulated by our enemies! This attack was timed to coincide with 9/11 and the protests were created by the perpetrators as a cover for the attack. No one had heard of this video before the protests and the protersters surely heard about it from the attackers, manipulating them into covering their attack. And by focusing so heavily on the video, the Obama administration is falling for it too. Instead of condemning the video, the Obama administration should be downplaying it. Condeming it gives it legitimacy that will actually fan the protest flames (as appears to be happening).

    This is an issue with a significant potential to sting Obama, but only if the full story gets told. He took a lot of flak over the so-called "Apology Tour" (so-called because it didn't include an explicit apology) and this issue has a very similar flavor. Non-Americans on PF praised Obama for that at the time, and as well they should: Obama dipping his head in deference to Europe reduces American stature and raises theirs. But Americans should not praise him for weakening us and I don't think, overall, they will.

    Another angle: Bush got heat for the Patriot Act. That heat has largely dissipated now that Obama has extended it (:rolleyes:), but the tone of that criticism was essentially that by restricting our freedom via the Patriot Act, we're handing the terrorists a victory. No. The primary issues in the Patriot Act are about monitoring, not restriction. What does hand the terrorists a victory is condemning and at least verbally admonishing free speech in direct response to an attack. Or having the Secretary of Defense call an American to ask (strong-arm?) him into not exercising his free speech (!). Scaring us into silence is exactly what they want out of this (secondary goal: the primary goal is to kill us, of course) and Obama's administration is assisting them in achieving that goal.

    As a footnote (should this be?), there is also the issue of why the ambassador was so poorly protected. On Wednesday, Obama sent a platoon of Marines to protect our diplomatic mission there. Given that this is one of the Marine Corps' primary missions, I wonder why there weren't any Marines around the ambassador when he died. I don't suppose that's worthy of discussion either, though. :rolleye:
     
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  21. Sep 14, 2012 #20

    russ_watters

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    Obama is completely right here. I'd tend to cut the embassy officials a little slack when their lives are on the line as well. Doesn't make their statement right, but it does make it understandable.

    It also is a tacit admission by Obama that officials in his administration erred. He is therefore telling us that Romney was right in his criticism of the statement. What makes this campaign politics is that Romney is using someone else's error against Obama. Sorry, Barry, but that's campaign politics and you're neck-deep in it.
    That's true unless we are talking about Romney's response to the statement. Romney's response is being called a "lie" by you for (my understanding) being about two completely different things at the same time. So Romney connects them and that means we need to explore them to see if there is a connection.

    And self-evidently, there is, right? The protests in both countries were happening, ostensibly, for the same reason. The protests were connected and the statement by the embassy covers the single reason for both protests.
     
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