published Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Fight terrorists with liberty

At first anybody who believed the murderous assault on the American consulate in Benghazi was a terrorist attack didn't know what he was talking about. It was just the result of a spontaneous demonstration that got out of hand. It was all the fault of a shadowy little video that had taken the Prophet Mohammed's name in vain. It was the video that had provoked the violence. The attack couldn't have been planned in advance. Or anticipated, either.

At least that was the official line coming from the White House press secretary and our ambassador at the United Nations, and the whole administration stuck to it. For a while. A remarkably long while, considering how implausible it was. The learning curve in this administration can be laboriously slow.

Now, weeks later, after the funerals have been held and the bodies buried, and investigations have begun, the same White House press secretary who once dismissed all talk of a terrorist attack says, "It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack."

Good morning, Mr. Carney. So good to have you with us. At last. It's taken long enough. When Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., referred to what happened at Benghazi as "an act of terror" a few weeks ago, a spokesman for the Obama campaign said the senator was just being political.

In the immediate aftermath of the attacks in Cairo and Benghazi, the White House press secretary explained that all this violence in the Middle East was a response "not to United States policy, and not obviously the administration or the American people," but "in response to a video that is offensive to Muslims."

He didn't get it. He had confused the pretext for these rampages with the reason: the war still being waged against America and the West by a fanatical group of Islamic zealots who will exploit every religious prejudice and historical grievance in their part of the world to attack us. Theirs is not just an ideological movement but a violent criminal conspiracy. Not unlike Nazism and Communism when they were rampaging.

• • •

How long before this administration comes fully awake, and realizes that peace is assured by strength, not by cringing statements that only further inflame the fanatics and terrorists of the Middle East? The president's response to this embarrassment has been to reduce foreign policy to another campaign soundbite: "If Governor Romney is suggesting that we should start another war, he should say so." He still doesn't get it; it is appeasing aggression that is the sure road to war, not standing up to it.

Just before the attackers had breached the walls of our consulate in Benghazi, the American embassy in Cairo was issuing tweets trying to appease the gathering mob. Mitt Romney warned that this administration's policy of kowtowing to the zealots in the Middle East would only invite violence. Shows of weakness ("Please don't hit me!") will have that effect on bullies.

Barack Obama's response to Mr. Romney? The president went on the political attack himself, saying: "Governor Romney seems to have a tendency to shoot first and aim later."

Who was really being unpresidential in this case, and jumping to premature conclusions? It should now be apparent to all-even the White House seems to have caught on -- that this was no spontaneous eruption of Muslim outrage against some two -- bit video. The assault on our consulate at Benghazi was a well-planned terrorist attack. One carried out on the anniversary of 9/11.

How is it, do you suppose, that a presidential candidate who wasn't privy to all the military and diplomatic intelligence that the White House should be able to command, understood the nature of this violence, and what incites it, almost instinctively?

Why did Mitt Romney sense what was behind this gathering storm? Why did he know, and say, that an America in retreat across the Middle East, offering apologetic obeisance as we withdraw, presents a natural target for the worst elements in the Islamic world? While our president still seems blind to the dangers he has invited since he began his administration by going to Cairo to confess America's sins-and the West's -- and offer "a new beginning." Which n ow has turned into the same old treachery.

In retrospect, it is Mitt Romney who now seems the prescient statesman. Maybe it's because he understands that peace is assured by strength. Barack Obama and his press secretary seem to be discovering only slowly-and at great cost-where weakness leads. While good men representing this country with extraordinary vision and valor, like our murdered ambassador to Libya, pay the ultimate price.

• • •

The problem remains the same one exemplified by those tweets out of our Cairo embassy. The gist of the message is still the same: We disapprove of that stupid video about the Prophet Mohammed, and disavow any connection with it. We back away from the central question in this debate rather than explain that the essence of freedom is not freedom only for the ideas we approve. That would not be freedom at all. In a free country, we do not censor ideas we disagree with, or even despise. We let them be expressed in the marketplace of ideas --in the faith that bad ideas need not be banned if good ones are left free to combat them. America's future, and the world's, is tied up with that kind of faith in freedom. That's who we are -- and should remain.

"If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other," Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. wrote in a famous dissent, "it is the principle of free thought -- not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.'' If there is one thing that would be more un-American than agreeing with that hateful little video, it would be trying to suppress it. That's the educational point America's voice should be making abroad. Without apology.

Once upon a time, long ago, centuries ago, at the height of Islamic civilization, when it represented all that was most advanced in the world-science, toleration, learning, freedom of ideas -- Islam's rulers, philosophers and poets understood as much. It is that heritage, so close to the American spirit at its best, that should unite East and West in a common quest for enlightenment, security and mutual respect. And we should say so, boldly. Anything less would dishonor our own civilization -- and insult Muslims, who are perfectly capable of understanding our point. They need not be condescended to, which remains the default mode of Barack Obama's rhetorical style.

It will not do to adopt a defensive posture in hopes of appeasing the violent. There is no need to offer excuses for freedom, and no shame in embracing it openly, and advocating it proudly. Liberty should be celebrated, promoted and honored. It is America's reason for being. And we should make no apologies for it.

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
Easy123 said...

What world do you live in?

What sign of weakness did Obama or America show?

Where will the hubris that you so vehemently advocate get us? Another war? More outrage in the Middle East? How many dead then?

We aren't dealing with "rational" terrorists/Muslim extremists. Our free speech means nothing to them.

You would have us forego the part where America distances themselves from the video that sparks outrage across the entire Middle East and do what? Claim it with honor? "Yeah, we made the video. Deal with it!"

Our liberty isn't threatened. Our freedom isn't either. You are advocating violence to appease violence. How has that worked so far?

September 26, 2012 at 12:14 a.m.
nucanuck said...

Loosely throwing around the word "terrorist" should be wearing thin for America after decades of over use and mis-use. We are simply suffering blow-back and collateral damage for a foreign policy that is out of step with today's world.

We care not a wit about liberty for the people of the Middle East, nor have we ever. We have backed dictators of the worst kind if they would kowtow to the US. The US is hated throughout the Islamic world, and we have earned it. To them, we are the terrorists and they have a point.

Real strength is economic and the world is watching as our economic strength is slipping away from fighting endless wars against goat herders in deserts with drones, smart bombs, and pallets of paper dollars. It now looks like Osama bin Laden and a few hundred zealots will accomplish what the Soviet Union could not...outlast and exhaust America's military and economic might.

No empire lasts forever, but who would have thought that the Islamic David could defeat the Christian Goliath...and with a small band of brave men? Humility is coming to America. Many Americans sense it, but the political class seems to be tone deaf.

America can come back, but not before accepting the rest of the world as partners instead of subjects.

September 26, 2012 at 2:02 a.m.
jesse said...

Sooner or later Nucanuk is gonna define 9/11 as pilot error!

I think the editorial is spot on!

BTW: Easy123, do you FOAM at the mouth when you type your posts?

September 26, 2012 at 6:34 a.m.
aae1049 said...

Jesse, that is funny.

September 26, 2012 at 8:02 a.m.
nucanuck said...

jesse, do you really believe that the US is in the Middle East in pursuit of liberty? Do you think that the US should ramp-up our military strength/enforcement and that that could bring about a more peaceful world? Do you believe that the US economy can withstand the cost of near perpetual foreign military adventures?

Do you believe that either US political party will make a real difference in our military posture? Do you believe that there are countries that would like to invade and occupy the US?

If you think deeply about the above questions I believe that you will decide that today's editorial is a shallow, low thought regurgitation of far-right orthodoxy.

September 26, 2012 at 8:28 a.m.
rolando said...

Yeah, but jesse is right, aae...on all counts.

If our very own Dear Leader has his way, the rest of the world -- with very few exceptions -- will line the bottom of their birdcages with us.

September 26, 2012 at 8:31 a.m.
rolando said...

Nucanuck -- Not that jesse is incapable of answering on his own, but here is my take on your questions [in order]:

Yes, our liberty [as a Don't Tread On Me slapdown]. Yes, but only as a preventative action and/or a defense against attacks on us. No, not the way we are currently proceeding...and haven't since, half-assed wars do not work.

Yes. Appeasement is not the answer -- ask Lord Chamberlain. Yes, just about all of them with a few notable exceptions. Do you think they don't? The only one with a chance to succeed will be the UN and, if this CinC is re-elected, they it be invited in -- to put down an insurrection, of course, real or media-invented.

You live in a dream-world up there on Vancouver Isle...

September 26, 2012 at 8:42 a.m.
chatt_man said...

Rolondo and jesse are correct in their thinking, and are speaking from experience. Nucanuck, well, I guess the air is thin up there. And Easy, he's just young, ignorant, and full of inexperience.

September 26, 2012 at 10:03 a.m.
nucanuck said...

rolando, leaving other countries to manage their own affairs is not appeasement. Installing puppet governments, over-throwing governments, intervening in the internal affairs of others...all has to stop. We are having enough trouble just running the US.

And yes, you are right. Vancouver Island can seem like a dream world at times. The place is full of talented problem solvers working toward common goals. It is amazing to see hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world with almost no poverty and almost no violent crime.

As you may know, Canada was just ajudged to have the second most content/happy population on earth...second to Denmark. Living here now for several years, I can appreciate why Canada is so recognized.

September 26, 2012 at 10:06 a.m.
conservative said...

Good Job!

So, on September 11, Americans are once again killed by terrorists and the Obamination refs couldn't make the call. I wonder if they are still using the replacement term "overseas contingency operations?"

Quick definitions from WordNet (terrorist)

▸ noun: a radical who employs terror as a political weapon; usually organizes with other terrorists in small cells; often uses religion as a cover for terrorist activities

September 26, 2012 at 10:56 a.m.
Easy123 said...


"And Easy, he's just young, ignorant, and full of inexperience."

In contrast, you are old, obtuse, and inept.

But I guess you Conservatives would have more experience at warmongering than anyone else. I'll give you that.

September 26, 2012 at 11:26 a.m.
Leaf said...

If the author truly believes that the US is apologetic to terrorists, he hasn't been paying attention. We blow so many people up with drones that it has ceased to be news.

"Speak softly and carry a big stick." It's not necessary for Obama to talk tough and rattle his saber. If you're a Muslim terrorist, you probably don't care what the American President has to say, because you're too busy hiding in caves to avoid being suddenly separated into multiple parts.

This line from the article is pretty funny "They need not be condescended to, which remains the default mode of Barack Obama's rhetorical style." Yes, Mitt's just a good old boy who never seems condescending. Especially to the British, the Palestinians, or 47% of the American public. :)

September 26, 2012 at 11:55 a.m.
jesse said...

Nucanuk,if i remember correctly we kinda let things slide after the embassy bombings in Kenya and what did that wind up getting us! I'm for getting our troops out of Afghanistan and letting Karzi fend for himself BUT i don't think we can close down every embassy in the middle east and expect a good result! I'm kinda of the mind that if we get all the troops home and leave the mid east to its self before long they will have slaughtered each other to the point they won't threaten the rest of the planet!

September 26, 2012 at 12:01 p.m.
nucanuck said...

jesse, I think our embassies would be at reduced risk if we removed the military bases scattered throughout the region. Imagine how we would react if we had Chinese military bases all over the US and drone strikes againt those of us who tried to oppose them. Our hatred thermometer would be at the fever pitch and we would be committing "terrorist" acts.

September 26, 2012 at 2:04 p.m.
jesse said...

As far as i know we have NO bases in Libya OR Egypt. If we had had bases there to protect the embassy's i doubt they would have been attacked! The bottom line is if we are going to have a presence in that part of the world then it damn sure better be a strong one,otherwise you get just what we got in Libya and Egypt!

Kinda like the old adage about having a gun,"i had rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it!"

BTW:if China put a military base in Canada do you thin k Americans would attack and kill at the Chinese embassy in the U.S.A? would it be justified and O K in your view?
Time for a reality check my friend.The world is just the way it is,Not the way we would like it to be!

September 26, 2012 at 2:17 p.m.
Easy123 said...


We have bases and military deployments all over that region, including Egypt.

And we have bases all over the United States. That didn't stop 9/11 from happening.

The belief that bases make embassies (or any place) immune to terrorist attacks is wishful thinking at best.

September 26, 2012 at 2:22 p.m.
jesse said...

We weren't talking about "immune" it was about "safer"!

If we have embassy folks in dangerous places then we need the resources in place to protect them!

Easy 123, i checked your links and the ONLY military personnel in that entire area are stationed in Turkey!Hard to protect the Libyan embassy from a terrorist attack when the troops are all the way over in Turkey! Do you scope out the links you post before you post them? NOWHERE IN there that i could find does it mention Egypt and for SURE we got no troops in Libya!

September 26, 2012 at 2:57 p.m.
nucanuck said...

If we need an army to protect an embassy, we don't need to be there.

September 26, 2012 at 3:01 p.m.
jesse said...

Nucanuck, I agree 100% , bring EVERYBODY home from EVERYWHERE!

Tellum all to kiss it!!

BTW: whats this WE stuff?Canada ain't gittin their butts kicked in Libya are they??

September 26, 2012 at 3:16 p.m.
jesse said...

MY BAD easy 123 , i didn't scroll down far enough! we got a total of 238 people in Egypt and a WHOPPING 1 in Libya!(military) Sorry about that easy,won't happen again!

September 26, 2012 at 3:22 p.m.
nucanuck said...

jesse, I am an American citizen, hence the "we".

September 26, 2012 at 4:06 p.m.
jesse said...

I knew that ,i was just ribin ya! You must like cold weather! If i ever leave here it gonna be south for me!

September 26, 2012 at 4:43 p.m.
aae1049 said...

Rolando, Jessee, Chatt_man, Conservative I meant, "Jessee was funny in a good way." With ya 100 percent.

Yes, there are intelligent life forms in Chattanooga. I was beginning to believe Easy123 and HappyWithGovBlubs was all there was. It was a dismal period of time, thinking this is all we have in Chattanooga. That was then, this is now.

September 26, 2012 at 7:21 p.m.
nucanuck said...

jesse, I live in a temporate micro-climate, not hot, not cold. We are active outdoors 12 months a year, but the shot northern winter days are less than ideal...small price to pay for the rest being so nice.

But you are right, most of Canada has bitter winters.

September 26, 2012 at 8:01 p.m.
fairmon said...

nucanuck and jesse sound like Ron Paul, I agree with them. Get out and close military bases around the world and have a defense second to none. Make sure the world knows we will annihilate anyone that attacks us and we will do so without regard for collateral damage. Assure the world we will not attack without provocation nor will we interfere in their internal affairs. It appears we may be the only country in the world thinking we should police the world and insist other countries be like us.

September 27, 2012 at 4:18 a.m.
nucanuck said...

Well said, harp! Now how do we convince a majority that this would make us stronger, not weaker?

September 27, 2012 at 9:47 a.m.
chatt_man said...

I agree too, harp.

aae, Easy and Happy (not most of the time) only stick out because they are so dang annoying.

September 27, 2012 at 11:22 a.m.
Leaf said...

harp, that's a brilliant solution. I'm so glad you were able to find a one-paragraph solution for what everyone else in the world assumes is a complicated business. Why, now we can get rid of the State Department, CIA, Army and Marines, most of the Navy and a good portion of the Air Force. All we really need are a few attack submarines, ICBMs and long range bombers.

The heck with diplomacy and soft influence. If you don't like us, we'll just blow you up.

September 27, 2012 at 1:08 p.m.

Nucanuck said “today’s world” and “the rest of the world,” as if a.) there is such a thoughtful, monolithic negative attitude toward the U.S., b.) such attitudes are all for the same reason, c.) it is usually our the fault of the U.S., and d.) our role in the world is to win popularity contests with Islamist states. The State Department is good about disillusioning idealists like Obama within their first few days in the Oval Office. The trouble with The Intern, though, is that he is ever so prone to forget. And at all the worst possible moments.

Great editorial.

Isolationism is for lazy-thinkers (aka non-thinkers). The historical legacy of this preposterous idea is blood-curdling. We haven’t had to live very close to its consequences, at least not lately, thus its popularity as an easy way out of the [problems inherent in a violent, complicated, interconnected world.


September 27, 2012 at 9:10 p.m.
nucanuck said...


You infer that if lazy thinkers/non-thinkers could/would only think clearly like (presumeably) you, then we would know that isolationism is simplistic and unworkable.

While there is no body of evidence that suggests isolationism is or is not good policy, isolationism has not been part of the discussion until you chose to insert it. There is a huge distinction between isolationism and militaty adventurism. Thinking people know that. They know the benefits of the international exchange of commerce and culture. They also know a straw man when they see one.

You seem to imply that garrisoning the world with over 900 taxpayer funded military bases is OK; that intervening in the governance of other sovereign somehow necessary in today's more complex world; that without US intervention the rest of the world could not function.

Thinking (even thinking hard) with an information shortfall can lead to poor conclusions, as you have just demonstrated.

September 28, 2012 at 1:17 a.m.
fairmon said...

leaf said....

The heck with diplomacy and soft influence. If you don't like us, we'll just blow you up.

leaf it is Only paragraph and you didn't even read that accurately.

September 28, 2012 at 6:03 a.m.
rolando said...

easy said, "But I guess you Conservatives would have more experience at warmongering than anyone else."

It is the other way around, easy. Most of our wars for the last 100 years or so were STARTED during tenure of Democrat Presidents and ENDED by Republicans.

YOUR side is currently indiscriminately bombing/killing innocent civilians all over the place [using drones]. You would even allow this in the US.

With nary a word by the Leftist Media; compare the favorable reporting of Clinton's destruction of Yugoslavia with the negative of Bush's Iraq actions.

September 28, 2012 at 7:03 a.m.
rolando said...

nucanuck said, "...leaving other countries to manage their own affairs is not appeasement."

What would you call our "meaningful" reactions [or lack thereof] following...oh,say the USS Cole bombing, embassy attacks, US citizens/Marines murdered, et al [the list goes on] if not appeasement. Ignoring or mislabeling attacks in just another form of appeasement.

Now Iraq was a proper response -- we just carried it on too long...same thing with Afghanistan. No one bothered us much on Bush's watch, did they? If our gov't kisses their butts [and their rings] long enough, they will bite it [and have].

Our appeasement of Iran by ignoring them is and will cost us what few allies we have; no one can count on the US any longer to help them in their need. Expect no action/reaction following Iran's probable nuclear destruction of Israel, the only democracy in the ME.

September 28, 2012 at 7:19 a.m.
rolando said...

Isolationism is no longer an option for the US. We cannot survive without foreign products.

With few exceptions, we have no domestic industry producing durable goods left here. Essentially all of it [other than some assembly] is foreign-made.

Even once-mighty GM/Government Motors has become China Motors [7 of 10 Chevy assembly/manufacturing plants are located there along with the stimulus/takeover monies that built them]. To say nothing of the technology transfer...all government sponsored/approved.

September 28, 2012 at 7:31 a.m.
Easy123 said...


"It is the other way around, easy. Most of our wars for the last 100 years or so were STARTED during tenure of Democrat Presidents and ENDED by Republicans."


"YOUR side is currently indiscriminately bombing/killing innocent civilians all over the place [using drones]. You would even allow this in the US."

Utter insanity and entirely false.

"With nary a word by the Leftist Media; compare the favorable reporting of Clinton's destruction of Yugoslavia with the negative of Bush's Iraq actions."

Go ahead and compare. I'll wait. Or are you going to keep banking on vague, substanceless rhetoric?

September 28, 2012 at 9 a.m.
Easy123 said...


" Ignoring or mislabeling attacks in just another form of appeasement."

Which attacks have been ignored or mislabeled? And logically explain how anything the United States as done regarding your not-so-extensive list of situations. I bet you can't.

"Now Iraq was a proper response"

To what? That big threat of WMD's? Oh wait, no WMD's...

"Our appeasement of Iran by ignoring them is and will cost us what few allies we have; no one can count on the US any longer to help them in their need." Expect no action/reaction following Iran's probable nuclear destruction of Israel, the only democracy in the ME."**

We haven't ignored Iran whatsoever and our allies are seemingly on the same page as us in regards to our constant diplomatic efforts to keep Iran from developing nuclear bombs. Everyone counts on the US when they need help simply because we always show up, even when it's none of our business.

•Expect no action/reaction following Iran's probable nuclear destruction of Israel, the only democracy in the ME."

Are you just trying to sound blatantly ignorant or are you just that obtuse? The United States is the only thing standing in the way of an all-out nuclear war between Iran and Israel and we seem to be doing a fairly solid job in supporting Israel while we exhaust every diplomatic measure with Iran. There will be drastic action taken by the United States if Iran attacks Israel. Only a fool would believe otherwise.

September 28, 2012 at 9:14 a.m.
nucanuck said...

rolando, you are still stuck in the R and D blame game. Both parties have pursued policies of a US global military garrisons, of behind the scenes political intervention. The US military/security apparatus operates largely independent of political control...and is clearly out of control.

When loosely formed trans-national groups react to US intervention in ME affairs, there is no clear-cut target for a nation to blame. The attacks don't come from an inborn genetic hatred, but rather from a reaction to US imperial policy.

The fact that you still define the Iraq war as justified, demonstrates just how isolated you have remained.

And if Iran wants a nuclear capability, it is only because she has been under constant threat ever since she ousted the illegitimate US puppet regime over 30 years ago. It is the US, not Iran, who is the impetus for ongoig war.

September 28, 2012 at 9:30 a.m.
jesse said...

If it weren't for oil we would have NEVER gotten involved in the mid east to start with and all them ARABS would have probably killed each other out by now!They hate each other more than they do us! If Iran ever does detonate a nuke in Israel about 1 hour later Iran will be a radio active parking lot!

September 28, 2012 at 10:16 a.m.
nucanuck said...

jesse, when will the Middle East countries ever understand that that is OUR oil is under THEIR land? Or at least that seems to be our attitude.

September 28, 2012 at 11:01 a.m.
jesse said...

Here the thing about it ,IF all them shieks,omars,imams,and mohammad's that run those country's would spread all that money around among the peons instead of Bogartin it all for themselves maybe they wouldn't want to blow up everybody else on the planet!!

Be to busy buyin maserati's,t.v.'s rolex's and playin golf!!

September 28, 2012 at 11:09 a.m.
please login to post a comment

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »


Find a Business

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.