Friday, September 14, 2012

The art of anger

    An angry mob in Libya killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens, three other Americans and several Libyans providing embassy security this week.
    The mob supposedly was protesting an ugly anti-Islam screed that appeared on YouTube. Troubles began in Egypt and spread to Libya and Yemen. Whether the mobs are being orchestrated by anti-American forces using the film trailer as an excuse is unclear.
    Should these crowds be gassed, as would have happened under Muammar Gaddafi? Should a lid be put on protests, as Hosni Mubarak would have done?
    Should the U.S. demand that new leaders protect U.S. interests because the U.S. supported them when they battled Gaddafi and Mubarak during the Arab Spring?
    In matters of foreign policy, the questions are obvious, but the answers are not.
    As Osama bin Laden learned the hard way, it’s dangerous to toy with America, in the name of religion or otherwise. Those responsible for the murders in Libya should keep one eye looking over their shoulders for the “justice” they deserve.
    That’s the only thing we know for sure. Everything else is much murkier.
    It’s not certain, for example, whether Egypt, Libya or Yemen are allies or adversaries or somewhere in between.
    Yet, Americans must navigate these murky waters if we truly value messy, noisy and unpredictable democracies more than support purchased from brutal dictators. President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton showed strong diplomatic leadership by not ranting and raving, not shooting from the hip and not venting anger.
    As Italian author Daniele Vare wrote, that is the art of letting others have things your way.

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