The Obama administration this morning sent out Ambassador Susan Rice, the American ambassador to the United Nations, to flack for the administration’s utterly feckless Middle Eastern foreign policy. Her task was difficult: she somehow had to spin the administration’s cowardly foreign policy, resulting in a maelstrom of violent Islamist action around the world, as a result of something not Obama-related.
And she did. She blamed a YouTube video.
On ABC’s This Week, Jake Tapper asked Rice:
Look at this map, if you would. There have been protests around the world over the last several days. And President Obama pledged to repair America’s relationships with the Muslim world. Why does the U.S. seem so impotent? And why is the U.S. even less popular today in some of these Muslim and Arab countries than it was four years ago?
Rice’s answer was astounding:
Jake, we’re not impotent. We’re not even less popular, to challenge that assessment. I don’t know on what basis you make that judgment.
Well, Ambassador, it might be the al Qaeda flag flying over the US embassy in Tunisia. Or maybe it’s the dead American ambassador in Libya. Or perhaps it’s the burning of the American flag at the Cairo embassy, or outside our embassy in London. Or it could be the 29 other countries that experienced anti-US violence last week. But Rice continued:
It’s actually the opposite. First of all, let’s be clear what transpired here. What happened this week in Cairo, in Benghazi, in many other parts of the region, was a direct result of a heinous and offensive video that was widely disseminated, that the US government had nothing to do with, which we have made clear is reprehensible and disgusting.
This is where the rubber meets the road for the Obama administration. They’ve spent the entirety of the last week playing movie critic to a YouTube video that presents an offensive take on Islam. Now, it’s not the job of the White House to play Siskel & Ebert; it’s the White House’s job to defend American freedoms around the world. Imagine if these Islamist assaults had been about Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger going at it in Brokeback Mountain. Would the White House have been so quick to offer its movie review? “Well, Jake, while I found the cinematography stunning and the portrayal of the same-sex relationship groundbreaking, I did quibble a bit with Michelle Williams’ performance … and the film was offensive to Muslims.”
Surely not. Some free speech rights are more equal than others, apparently. And the Obama administration won’t stand up for free speech rights. In fact, Rice refused to do so this morning when questioned by David Gregory on Meet the Press — she simply wouldn’t answer why the Cairo embassy didn’t say anything about free speech rights as Muslims rioted. Instead, she continued to blame the YouTube movie.
This is the height of absurdity. The attacks last week, especially in Libya, were well-planned and coordinated beginning months ago, as the Libyan President stated this morning. This was never about a YouTube video. New reports suggest that a Libyan security official told American diplomats that the situation in Benghazi was unsafe three days before the ambassador was killed. Last week, reports suggested that America had intelligence on the Libya attacks 48 hours in advance.
But the Obama administration must continue to embrace the lie that all this violence and chaos is the fault of one obscure YouTube video. There’s a reason they’re ignoring reality: if they acknowledge that the video wasn’t the problem, then the administration’s spineless foreign policy is the problem.
And make no mistake – it is the problem. Late last week, Egyptian President and Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi told Obama “to put an end to such behavior” – referring to the exercise of free speech in the United States so long as it offends Islamists. And President Obama quickly complied; the Christian filmmaker behind the YouTube video was taken in for questioning. In America. Local authorities said they were investigating him for “financial crimes.” But the timing makes a mockery of that contention. So, too, does the Obama administration’s support – at the United Nations, by Ambassador Rice presumably – for a resolution condemning “religious intolerance.” The resolution was originally crafted by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC); the State Department hosted a meeting to discuss implementation.
And the media, with the notable exception of Tapper, continues to cover for the Obama administration. The facts are simple: Obama’s Middle East policy has handed over full countries to Islamists. These are the predictable results. This was never about a YouTube movie, even if Obama and company would prefer that the American people think it was.