As election campaign sparring shifts from domestic issues to foreign policy in the wake of an attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya and subsequent assassination of it’s ambassador, heavy questions are being levied against the Obama Administration for it’s slow and mixed response – and not just from Mitt Romney.
“I recognize particularly in the this political season, and here we are nearing October in an election year, that there are going to be people who are going to be asking politically motivated questions,” deputy White House press secretary Joshua Earnest said in a press conference last week, “I can tell you that the president is not focused on the politics of the situation, he’s focused on the safety and security of our diplomats.”
Despite White House press, politics are exactly the focus of the Obama Administration’s response to the killing of Ambassador to Libya J. Christopher Stevens on Sept. 11 following an attack on the consulate in Benghazi. It is believed the attack was motivated in large part due to the recent release of an American independently produced online video criticizing Islam and it’s chief Prophet, Muhammad.
According to congressional Republicans, the president’s response to the attack was both confusing and disconcerting; at first citing it as a random protest turned violent, and only recently changing its assessment to an Islamic extremist attack, possibly staged by the Al Qaeda terrorist network.
With only five U.S. ambassadors in history having been killed by terrorists, the most recent being Ambassador to Afghanistan Adolph Dubs in 1979, the murder of Stevens as the sixth is inarguably a black mark on the Obama Administration’s foreign policy record.
Republicans state the president’s initial response was engineered to save face in the scrutinizing light of a late election year, and that the mixed assessment not only damaged the nation’s integrity abroad in the fragile political climate of the Arab Spring, but provided misleading information to it’s citizens at home. Republicans believe is only the most recent result of a foreign policy philosophy that continues to illustrate the U.S. as weak and nonresponsive on the world stage, putting it’s diplomats and armed forces in an increasingly compromising and dangerous situation.
“We need to drop the politics and pull together,” Democratic Senator and former presidential nominee John Kerry said in response to the Republican-controlled House Homeland Security Committee’s call for the resignation of Susan E. Rice, American Ambassador to the U.N., who in part formulated the White House’s initial ‘random protest’ explanation. Kerry is currently serving as chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and has called for an international review of embassy security protocols by the State Department.
The continuing fallout from the death of Stevens and three other Americans in the Libyan attack has preemptively escalated the issue of foreign policy in the upcoming election, and will undoubtedly be a major topic in the upcoming presidential debates beginning this week.