Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer said Thursday that although the State Department has backtracked on an apology the U.S. Embassy in Cairo issued in the middle of an attack on its compound, there’s still a lot wrong with the tack Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration are taking on Egypt.
On Thursday’s broadcast of Fox News Channel’s “Special Report,” Krauthammer said that apology and the subsequent about-face suggests that foreign policy in the Obama administration may still be in a state of disarray.
“It looks as if the administration has no idea what it thinks about what has just happened,” Krauthammer said. “We had that statement coming out of the embassy in Cairo, which was a disgraceful apology. And Romney attacks it, and then the White House hasn’t said anything. But after the Romney attack, the State Department denies it or disavows it, the White House does. And then of course everybody jumps on Romney because he criticized it. He was absolutely right in attacking it.”
Recalling Clinton’s remarks on Thursday, Krauthammer criticized her for engaging in the debate over American-style free speech in the first place, instead of taking a hard line with heads of state where violent protests and armed attacks are threatening U.S. diplomatic stations.
“And now when we heard from Secretary of State Clinton, she basically repeated the apology,” Krauthammer continued. “‘I oppose all this. We don’t have sympathy with– We deplore– I find it disgusting.’ Why are we — and then she has that line, I thought the worst line in the clip that you showed was this, where she said, ‘There are different views around the world about the outer limits of free speech.’ Why is she engaging in a disquisition on free speech with the mob? The implication here is that perhaps the mob is right, that we ought to be suppressing anything that offends Islam. This is a nation that when somebody puts a crucifix in bottle of urine it ends up in a museum. We allow all kinds of expression. But perhaps we ought to make an exception in the case of Islam. This is absurd.”
“She ought to be speaking to the heads of state, to the State Department equivalents in other states and say, ‘You speak with your mob, and you talk to them and you defend our embassies.’ I find this is a return to the sentiment of the embassy statement two days ago. I think they are totally in meltdown over at the State Department.”
The broader meaning, Krauthammer said as a live feed played from Cairo, is that Obama’s policy in the Middle East has fallen completely apart.
“What we are seeing on the screen is the meltdown, the collapse of the Obama policy on the Muslim world,” Krauthammer said. “The irony is that it began in Cairo, in the same place where the speech he made at the beginning of his presidency in which he said he wanted a new beginning with mutual respect, implying that under other presidents, particularly [George W.] Bush, there was a lack of mutual respect, which was an insult to the United States — which had gone to war six times in the last 20 years on behalf of oppressed Muslims in Kuwait, Kosovo, Bosnia, Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere.”
“So to imply that we somehow had mistreated Muslims — which was the premise of the speech and how the Iraq war had inflamed the Arab world against us — well, there was no storming of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo in those days. What we’re seeing now is ‘al-Qaidastan’ developing in Libya, the meltdown of our relations with Egypt. You’ve got riots in Yemen, attacks on our embassy in Tunisia. This entire premise that we want to be loved and respected and we’re going to apologize has now yielded all of these results, and these are the fruits of apology and retreat and lack of confidence in our own principles.”