Under Seige US and Libyan security personnel fought for hours
US embassy in Yemen under seige
A tragic loss of life amid unfathomable horror in Benghazi, Libya, and the reputation of Islam itself lies in ruins. Yes, the reputation of Islam lies in ruins. Other US embassies have come under attack in Yemen, Egypt, Iran, Morocco, Sudan as well as Tunisia at the time of this posting. Unless decisive action is taken the list will only grow longer.
There are two important issues that these occurrences have brought to light. On the one hand, freedom of speech and of the press in the United States, and on the other hand, the existence of international agreements among responsible states as to the protection of foreign diplomats.
The underlying cause of the violence is this case, as claimed by such organisations as the Islamist Ansar al-Sharia brigade of Libya, was the release of a film in the US made by ordinary citizens which certain adherents of the Islamic faith found to be offensive.
We have been here before. In the last incident some fifty people lost their lives because school children drew cartoons of what they preceive Islam to be in the mordern world. Images that are the result of what those children see on the news, hear on radio and overhear their parents, teachers and others talkng about. And, what they drew was not unlike what is reflected on the nightly news, mobs of histerical breaded men waving the white flag of perfidy, bombing, burning, and executing in waves of extra-judicial murder.
Those images that adherents of the Islamic faith claimed to be of their long since passed holy man. However, these children had never seen images of their holy man, what they were drawing were images of the living adherents of the Islamic faith who carry out daily acts of sanguinary excess. Their images were of the living, not the dead. What the mad crowds that storm our embassies do not want to see is that these children see them very clearly, and can reproduce the images they see with a sense of detail and accuracy.
If the issue at its core is between Islamic sensibilities and the First Amendment right to voice ones opinion, that is, I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it, Islamic sensibilities may be argued but have no place in fact and in law within the scope of the American Constitution and the liberties guaranteed by it.
And, for American officials to apologise for the exercise of free speech within the United States is a step too far. It is one thing to call the existence of the film in this case unfortunate, insensitive, or even the ramblings of a tiny minority.
However, to infer that the makers of the film were doing anything but exercising their right to express their disgust at what they see people doing in the name of Islam, is for any elected official in the United States a breach of their oath of office to preserve, protect and defend the Constitutuion of the United States, by defending the right of every American to exercise those rights freely.
The second issue this incident raises concerns the universally recognised responsibility of host governments to protect foreign embassies on their territory. Protection of foreign embassies is an elementary responsibility of all governments.
Although shared, naturally each country assumes major responsibility for the safety of its own Ambassadors and staffs as well.
In the American system, the Regional Security Office provides for the safety and security of American personnel working at US Embassies and Consulates. The Regional Security Office is the face of the Bureau of Diplomatic Security abroad. The Bureau of Diplomatic Security is the protection and law enforcement arm of the US State Department, and serves as the US Ambassador’s senior US law enforcement and security advisor.
Two of the very important security functions of the Regional Security Office are to protect the US embassy, its personnel, and information and to serve as the US embassy’s security liaison with the host nation.
And, every since the Foreign Service Act of 1946, and a more recent Memorandum of Agreement signed in August 2008, the Marine Security Guards have been a vital part of the protection of our foreign embassies.
The role of the Marine Security Guards is primarily focused on the interior security of a diplomatic building. And, only under the most extreme emergency situations are they authorized to use force on the exterior of the facility or to provide special protection to the senior diplomatic officer off of the diplomatic compound. Marine Security Guards are granted a certain level of diplomatic immunity when in the performance of their official duties.
Marine Corps Embassy Security Group - unit logo
There will be much written and discussed about the security arrangements in and around our diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya. And those inquiries will be exhaustive and at times troubling, but we are an open society and that is how we come to grips with problems in this country.
To the governments who failed to protect our diplomatic missions but chose to protect those who committed these crimes, we shall not allow these crimes to go unpunished. Either you can bring the perpretrators to justice or stand aside as you did when the crimes were being committed.
And to those adherents of the Islamic faith who felt justified in committing murder because a few Americans made a film that you felt to be offensive to your religion, there are two concepts that are important for you to understand; first, it is not your religion but your behaviour in the international community that is being called into question, and second, if the majority of Islamic adherents who claim to be peaceful cannot keep the fanatic violent minority in check, then the fanatics are not in the minority.
The international community of responsible states cannot and will not tolerate the continued use of violence in the name of religion. And, it would be a mistake to intrepret our metered response to this lastest round of violence as a sign of weakness. We have every right to draw attention to the fact that unspeakable acts of bloodletting have been carried out by those claiming Islamic heritage, and our citizens will exercise that right freely.
If it is the contention that by claiming a belief in the Islamic faith that one can murder indiscriminately, destroy property and deprive others of their inalienable human rights, then it is time for those of us who believe in the rule of law, ordered liberty and human dignity to act to stop the senseless violence, and restore an orderly process to civil relations.
And now the Frence have announced that they will close 20 of their embassies across the Muslim world after publication of controversial cartoons in satirical weekly newspaper in Paris.
In normal times, the president of the United States would have summoned the ambassadors from all the countries where our embassies have been attacked into the White House and told them in no uncertain terms that we expect the same level of protection of our people and property that we afford them in this country.