What is an attack on the U.S.? Don’t ask Obama.

As the Obama administration swaps lines and syncs stories about its anemic response to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, members appear confused by a question even more critical than who will win the presidency in November.

The question: What constitutes an attack on the United States?

Last week, America’s consulate in Benghazi was sacked, her foreign service and security officials slain, her ambassador assassinated. The assault was coordinated and executed on the eleventh anniversary of 9/11/01.

If any of that sounds like an attack on America, breathe easy.  The rhetoric and inaction of Carney, Clinton, and President Obama assure us of the contrary.

The State Department, for instance, tweeted apologies for an ignorant and insulting video that it did not produce.  The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces called for emotional awareness toward Muslims.  Meanwhile, Press Secretary Carney diverted the nation with the logic-defying proposition that violence against America isn’t actually against America if it isn’t against Obama’s policies.

Consider Carney’s now well-publicized remarks following the Benghazi assault: “We also need to understand that this is a fairly volatile situation and it is in response not to United States policy, and not to, obviously, the administration, or the American people, but it is in response to . . . a film that we have judged to be reprehensible and disgusting.”

Three terrifying assumptions underlie Carney’s statement–each a tentacle of the Obama administration’s philosophy of national defense and foreign policy:

First, that extenuating reasons for attacking the United States actually exist.

Second, that planned attacks against Americans–even diplomats–don’t count as attacks on the American people.

Third, that future assassins can expect equally lethargic responses from President Obama, so long as they don’t cite one of his position papers while reloading.

I wonder if Ambassador Stevens’s family is consoled to know that the rocket-propelled grenades launched at the U.S. consulate were aimed not at America, but only at Americans, and not because of her President, but only because of her citizens.

At least Carney nailed the video description (and to it could add “shoddy,” “ignorant,” and even “right-wing”).  But the Press Secretary forfeits any points for accuracy when he measures the attack by the shooters’ motives instead of by their deeds.

Some will object that because the attackers represent ideology rather than a defined country, their assault cannot be termed an “act of war.”  This objection, however, ignores the last decade of policymaking and implementation that manifested in the United States’ ongoing War on Terror, which transcended borders and governments (and which the Obama administration has toothlessly rechristened the “Overseas Contingency Operation”).

And those who prefer to call Stevens’s assassination a mere murder at the hands of a mob should be reminded that the ambassador was not capped by a gang at a Seven-Eleven, but ambushed by plotting militants on his country’s own compound.

There are only two possibilities for an organization or country that attacks Americans so brazenly.  Either it expects not to survive its assault (e.g., the 9/11 hijackers), or it has lost all respect for American deterrence.  Protests–some violent–outside of nearly 20 American embassies in the last week remind us that the Middle-East is crowded with opponents at both extremes.  Apologies and emotional tip-toeing will not protect the U.S. from either.

What will protect the U.S. if she is attacked?  That probably depends how one defines “the U.S.”

One can guess Carney’s answer: the Secret Service, of course.


MTH Featured-ColumnistMichael Hamilton teaches AP U.S. Government & Politics and Honors American Literature at Dayton Christian High School in Miamisburg.  He holds a B.A. in English from Hillsdale College (‘08).  He is the Executive Editor and a Co-Founder of OCR.


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