Thursday, September 13, 2012

The real feckless foreign policy

In a piece in the New York Times about the blowback against Mitt Romney's remarks about the killing of U.S. diplomatic personnel in Libya, Romney's "policy director", Lanhee Chen, said, "While there may be differences of opinion regarding issues of timing, I think everyone stands behind the critique of the administration, which we believe has conducted its foreign policy in a feckless manner." In the same article, Sen. Jon Kyl was quoted as saying, "This is like a judge telling the woman that got raped, ‘You asked for it because of the way you dressed,’ O.K.? That’s the same thing: ‘Well, America you should be the ones to apologize. You should have known this would happen.’"

Romney screwed up by condemning a statement the U.S. embassy in Cairo issued in advance of the violence in Libya. The statement was an attempt to tamp down the likelihood of deadly violence. The attempt didn't work, of course. However, Romney's remarks implied that the statement had been made in response to the Libyan violence: "It’s disgraceful that the Obama administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks."

Romney blew the timeline — not an encouraging sign of clear thinking and analysis by either him or his team. For that, he has come under fire not just from Democrats but from Republicans, too. However, some Republicans, like Kyl, have leaped to Romney's defense with the same thoughtlessness and zeal Romney himself has shown.

Kyl is a reflexively jingoistic half-wit who indulged in the kind of simplistic analogizing that demogogues of all stripes love, reducing the truth to a seemingly persuasive sound bite but in fact losing the truth entirely in the process. The U.S. wasn't and isn't like a raped woman, and it is inconceivably insulting to both raped women and the nation to pretend the two are anything alike. The U.S.'s history with the Middle East and the Muslim world is tangled and its relationship with both is complex. President Obama has attempted to recognize that complexity by treating both with a nuance for which hard-line conservatives like Kyl have no patience. Kyl and his ilk, in refusing to treat the inhabitants of the Middle East and Muslims worldwide (not at all the same group, incidentally) with the modicum of respect due to other human beings, are patronizing jackasses who endanger U.S. citizens with their moronically bellicose rhetoric.

It is the height of irony for Chen to characterize the Obama administration's foreign policy as "feckless". It is Republicans, whose foreign policy has been carried out not with other nations in mind but instead with both eyes aimed at firing up the underinformed Republican base, who have for decades behaved "fecklessly". Chen's remarks are more confirmation that Romney has surrounded himself with advisors who would take this country down a terrible path if he is elected.

No comments:

Post a Comment