On the evening of September 11th, 2012, while the United States remembered the lives lost 11 years ago at the hands of terrorists, more radical violence against Americans was occurring in the Middle East.
This morning, President Barack Obama confirmed that U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens as well as three members of U.S. consulate staff were killed in a Libyan uprising that also left between 12 and 17 others wounded.
The violence was allegedly carried out by a mob of radical Islamists in response to an American-made, anti-Muslim online film. The angry mob stormed the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya with hand-made bombs, burning torches, and guns. Consulate security staff responded immediately and U.S. planes arrived from Tripoli to evacuate any remaining Americans from the building.
With the fall of radical dictator Muammar Gaddafi in October 2011, there was hope for the newly “liberated” Libya and the citizens that supported basic human rights, democracy, and peace. Although U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton claimed that the attack was orchestrated “‘by a small and savage group, not the people and government of Libya,’” there is absolutely no justification for the attacks.
In addition, the U.S. mission in Egypt was also attacked late Tuesday due to the film, which was produced by a U.S. pastor. Egyptian dictator Hosini Mubarak’s 30-year rule ended last January with the revolution in Tahrir Square and has since transitioned to a parliamentary system —albeit with lingering unrest.
The United States has been unwavering in its support of the Arab Spring and the revolutions calling for fundamental freedoms, universal human rights, free and fair elections, and democracy. U.S. support of the Arab Spring can be analyzed through two lenses. From a U.S. national security standpoint, the ousting of Gaddafi and Mubarak ideally will eventually lead to diminished regional violence as well as a diminished international terrorism threat. However, through the ethical and moral lens —which is arguably more applicable in this particular situation —the political, economic, and social changes that will come from a peaceful, democratic rule will have a profound impact on the everyday lives of the Libyan and Egyptian people. They will enjoy the universal human rights, government participation, and freedoms that we enjoy every day here in the United States.
Apparently this is not enough for some.
Yesterday’s senseless actions prove that Middle Eastern violence and hatred towards the United States is not going away anytime soon —despite the fact that we helped facilitate Libya and Egypt’s liberation. Within the last 24 hours since the attacks, there has been incredible backlash from the American people against the Arab Spring and those who do not appreciate our alliance on their path to freedom. Were we better off leaving well enough alone?