Saturday, September 15, 2012


From a few days ago:
In the likely event that no serious military response is forthcoming, let me advance the following prediction: Expect more fatal attacks on US embassies, and sooner, rather than later.
Well, that didn't take long:
At least seven people were killed on Friday in demonstrations over a film made in the US that mocks Islam - as protests spread around the world.
 So what are we up to? Yemen, Egypt (again), Sudan, Tunisia, Lebanon...

I was implicitly wrong in one respect - while the attacks so far have been fatal, they haven't been fatal to any US embassy staff. I think this is in line with the comments that Lopez was making in the previous posts, that Benghazi seems to have been unusual in the extent to which it was an enormous clusterf*** of a security situation. At least we've seen that most embassies are better defended than Benghazi (between much better internal defenses, plus more support from local authorities in some of these places, perhaps because they have a better idea of the stakes).

But is there any series doubt about the claim from Pax Dickinson:
The West lacks the will to defend its own embassies.

It was earlier reported that the US Ambassador in Cairo had refused to permit the Marines guarding the embassy to carry live ammunition. The Pentagon later denied the claim.

But here's my question. How come you don't see a policy statement like the following being issued immediately after Benghazi:
'US Embassies are the sovereign territory of the United States. Any attacks on them will be met immediately with deadly force towards the individuals involved. Should the evacuation of any embassy prove necessary due to the hostile actions of locals, the United States will consider itself at war with the country in question.' 
I understand why you may not want to jump to collective punishment of entire cities after the fact in Benghazi.(I would, but I'm saying that I can see the reasons against it).

But this is very different from raising the stakes in advance, and threatening retaliation against people who haven't yet attacked you. Wouldn't this seem like a reasonable precaution?

It won't happen, of course. It would be just as credible as claiming that the embassies will be defended by dragons and goblins and shining armour. Nobody would believe it, no matter what you claimed.

The stated policy of the US is that the killers of Ambassador Stevens will be hunted down and held accountable. As far as I know, that's the only retaliation planned.

The violence in the last few days indicates that the mobs in these other countries either
a) didn't believe them
b) didn't care, or
c) didn't feel that was a sufficiently scary threat to stop them attempting the same thing as in Benghazi.

You can't blame them, really. Hands up, anyone, who thinks that more than a fraction of the people involved in the attack at Benghazi will actually face justice?

Can you see why the rest of the world jumps to the conclusion that the US is a paper tiger, unwilling to defend its embassies?

Once upon a time, the West had the confidence to put tiny, indefensible bits of its territory in potentially hostile countries, knowing very well that the locals wouldn't attack them because of the correct apprehension of enormous pain that would follow.

Once upon a time, my hypothetical policy statement above didn't have to be made, because it was well understood by all concerned that that was already the policy.

We've maintained the tradition of keeping them there, even though the confidence that justified them has long since disappeared. This internal contradiction is now resolving itself on the world stage.

Any embassy that you're not willing to defend with deadly force shouldn't be there in the first place.



    I'd be interested to know how many of these are 'homegrown'. My concern is that the majority are born and bred locally.

  2. Damn. That's my concern too. Another triumph of social policy all around.