Libya killings: We need a more muscular response

Kenneth Timmerman President, Foundation for Democracy in Iran
Font Size:

The appalling rape and murder of U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens in Libya and the ongoing assaults on our embassies across the Middle East cry out for a rapid response from the United States government.

I got to know Ambassador Stevens more than a decade ago when he worked on the Iran Desk at the State Department, and appreciated his candor and devotion to our country. My heart goes out to his family, and to the families of the three diplomats who were so savagely murdered with him in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11.

The crisis now spreading throughout the Middle East was sadly predictable. Just as the seizure of our diplomats in Tehran by Islamist fanatics in 1979, it was created not by any alleged “provocation,” but by the perceived sense of U.S. weakness.

When the evil-doers believe that the United States will not react, will not fight back, they attack. This is not a mysterious concept.

I believe it’s time to face reality: the so-called Arab Spring that the United States aided and abetted has ushered in an Islamist Dark Age descending upon much of the Middle East that endangers Americans, puts Christians and other religious minorities at risk, and endangers Israel.

It also directly threatens the authentic, pro-freedom forces in these countries that Ambassador Stevens and his colleagues tried bravely to nurture.

Frankly, it’s appalling to see the response from the White House and from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whose first instinct was to blame private American citizens for “hurting the feelings” of Muslims by making a comic-strip movie about the founder of Islam.

This is not the time for pathetic hand-wringing and retreat from our own freedoms. This is the time for America to stand up.

I believe we must take strong and unambiguous actions.

On the diplomatic front, the Obama administration should suspend all aid to Libya until the government there brings ALL the perpetrators to justice and provides armed protection to our diplomatic facilities and personnel.

We must demand similar protections from other governments in the region where mobs are threatening our embassies, and if they fail to provide adequate protections, we should suspend aid until they do.

We must make sure the U.S. Marines guarding our embassies in the region carry live ammunition and have adequate body armor. According to military bloggers, quoted by the Free Beacon in Washington, U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson refused repeated requests from her Marines to carry live ammo. If true, she should be relieved of duty.

We must also take concrete steps on the ground in Libya, using unilateral U.S. military and intelligence assets, to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice, one way or another.

The evil ones must understand that they cannot torture or murder Americans with impunity.

Failure to take such steps will put at risk all U.S. diplomats who are serving in the region and their families. It will also increase the risk to our diplomats serving in Europe and elsewhere, where large Muslim populations serve as a breeding ground for Islamist fanatics.

Since 1979, when Ayatollah Khomeini toppled the Shah of Iran and Wahhabi fanatics took over the Great Mosque in Mecca, a struggle for the soul of Islam has been underway.

The forces of darkness took over Iran and won huge financial support from the Saudi monarchy, allowing them to spread their poison far and wide.

This is not our struggle, and we should not pretend we can arbitrate between “moderate” and “orthodox” Muslims. But we must ensure that America is respected around the world.

Machiavelli noted that it was far better for the Prince to be feared than for him to be loved. While that certainly holds true for monarchs and dictators who survive by force alone, it also holds true for free nations such as our own.

Ken Timmerman has spent the past thirty years reporting from and about the Middle East, and is the Republican candidate for Congress in Maryland’s 8th District.