Today’s Courier Herald Column:
This column that usually focuses on Georgia politics has spent much time of late on national issues. Today we are forced to widen the spectrum to international issues. Late in the evening of September 11th we began receiving reports that U.S. embassies in both Egypt and Libya were attacked by extremists.
As of the deadline for this piece there is one American confirmed dead in the Libyan attack, with unconfirmed reports that he is the American ambassador to Libya. Other reports indicate that three Americans are dead. A day that has now been permanently scarred by radical elements into our collective history has additional blood added to its toll.
The motivation for the attack appears to be the showing of a film made by Sam Bacile, an Israeli-American real-estate developer according to CNN.com. Bacile told the Wall Street Journal he wanted to showcase his view of Islam as a hateful religion.
The U.S. embassy in Cairo
responded to the attacks by tweeting had earlier tweeted “We condemn the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims”. A tweet that was later removed. (see note below in the comments)
Being neither an expert on international relations nor wishing to attempt to further explain the motivations of radical extremists, we’ll let the initial confusion of news reports and the haphazard U.S. response serve as a reminder that the world we live in is not scripted, and the elections we are about to hold are to pick a world leader who will assume much more responsibility that we are normally reminded.
The issues we face in world affairs are as daunting as any our country has faced in generations. While we like to pretend we are in control of our own destiny, there will be events beyond those of our choosing that will require U.S. decisions, responses, and actions. The stakes are high.
During a recent interview at the Republican National Convention, Senator Saxby Chambliss, ranking member on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, spoke of the growing tensions between Israel and Iran over Iran’s developing nuclear program. His tone changed to one of grave seriousness when speaking of the growing potential for conflict between the two nations, and seemed resigned to almost indicate the matter is “when”, not if, Israel will respond.
He added the further disturbing caveat that he was not sure if the U.S. would get advance notice if Israel were to conduct an operation to remove Iran’s nuclear capabilities. This is just one potential growing threat the U.S. faces of being drawn into yet another overseas conflict.
A nation that is weary after a decade in Afghanistan and Iraq would like to focus on our own domestic economy, health care, and other issues closer to home. And we must.
We cannot, however, deny the reality that there are many additional issues that will choose us even if we do not choose them. Our interests span the globe. Our desire to focus on the home front does not make international issues go away.
Others will parse the meaning of the actions in Libya and Egypt. The implications extend into our own issues of how we view freedom of religion and freedom of speech. There will be much to discuss.
But at this hour, we must be reminded that we can script the issues as we would have them only so much. Eventually, events of the world will dictate what our country will face under our next administration.