As GOP foreign policy hands balk at Mitt Romney’s statements about the attacks on American diplomats in Libya and Egypt, the governor’s campaign and its surrogates continue to push the line that Obama’s “weak” foreign policy and his purported “apologies” for America invited the violence:
— LIZ CHENEY: “Apologizing for America, appeasing our enemies, abandoning our allies and slashing our military are the hallmarks of Mr. Obama’s foreign policy.” [Romney Press Release, 9/12/2012]
— SEN. JOHN MCCAIN (R-AZ): “The United States is weak and withdrawing and that’s why you’re seeing a lot of leaders reacting.” [Today Show, 9/13/2012]
— SEN. JIM INHOFE (R-OK): “What foreign policy? The policy of appeasement. Yes, it’s happening as a result of that.” [The Hill, 9/13/2012]
But there is little correlation between perceived “weakness” and attacks on US embassies/consulates or terrorism more broadly. Six times as many attacks on American embassies and consulates took place during the Bush administration than during the Obama administration to date and experts on terrorism suggest that the causes of terrorism are complex and multifaceted, ranging from political grievances to ideology and strategic rationality to the social circumstances of potential terrorists.
Obama also “has not made” apologizing for America a centerpoint of his foreign policy, nor has he shirked from using military force and coercion in foreign policy. The president helped lead a coalition to topple Muammer Qaddafi, greatly expanded the controversial use of drones and special forces against al-Qaeda in several countries around the world, escalated the ground war in Afghanistan, and brought down significant international pressure on the Iranian nuclear program.
Neither the President nor the Secretary of State approved the supposedly apologetic statement from the Cairo Embassy condemning the anti-Islam movie that may have infuriated the mobs in both Egypt and Libya. The reaction was issued before the attacks began and closely echoed Romney’s own sentiment. As his campaign said in talking points on Wednesday, “Governor Romney rejects the reported message of the movie. There is no room for religious hatred or intolerance.”