Libya, Egypt must respond to attacks
So, a U.S. ambassador was murdered in Libya Tuesday, along with three subordinates because the United States allows free expression.
Alternatively, the murders and the separate attack in Egypt were well-planned al-Qaida attacks designed to coincide with the anniversary of 9/11. A yet-to-be-released, amateurish film about Islam and the prophet Mohammed was just a convenient excuse to blame the attacks upon.
Either way, the fledgling democratic governments of Libya and Egypt — both of which have ties to fundamentalist Muslim groups — must demonstrate they are committed to halting such attacks and bringing the guilty parties to justice.
If they don’t, then the calls already heard in Congress to end all U.S. economic aid to the two countries will become a full-throated roar across this nation. And rightly so. It’s asinine for the United States to provide aid, economic or otherwise, to any country that fails, in its backwardness, to protect our diplomats or turns a blind eye to the perpetrators of such attacks.
President Barack Obama declared Wednesday that the killers of Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others will be brought to justice. And he said the United States is working with the Libyan government in that effort.
That’s welcome news, but it remains to be seen how helpful either Libya or Egypt will be.
And, while the president’s tough talk is welcome, it’s clear that someone in his State Department muffed the initial response to attacks on the U.S. Embassy in Egypt. There, protesters ripped down the U.S. flag and replaced it with a flag associated with al-Qaida, supposedly in response to Internet trailers of the anti-Islam film.
The U.S. Embassy in Cairo issued a statement Tuesday about the film, condemning “the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims.”
This despite the fact that no one seems to know who is producing the film, that it has no association with the U.S. government, and, in any event, it is protected by the First Amendment, just as the many films attacking or satirizing Christianity are protected.
The White House later rejected the embassy statement, saying it was not approved by the Obama administration.
We hope that’s the case, because the statement was a mistake. That’s especially true now that U.S. intelligence experts and others say there is evidence that both attacks were planned to strike U.S. personnel and property on the 9/11 anniversary. If so, they were planned well before the film trailer was released.
Whoever is responsible for the attacks, it is incumbent upon the governments of Libya and Egypt to show they will aggressively pursue the terrorists responsible for the attacks if they want to be allies of the United States and continue to receive our largess.