Romney Jumps the Shark: Libya, Egypt and the Butterfly Effect

The late science fiction writer Ray Bradbury authored a short story about time travelers. They were careful, when they went back to the Jurassic, not to change anything, but one of them stepped on a butterfly. When they got back to the present, the world was slightly different.

When scientists studying complexity put forward the idea that small initial events could have large effects in non-linear, dynamic systems like the weather, they chose the term ‘butterfly effect.” One of the images students of weather instanced was that a butterfly flapping its wings might set off minor turbulence that ultimately turned into a hurricane. (In the older model of Newtonian physics, small events have small effects and large events have large effects, so you wouldn’t expect a minor action to produce big changes).

So the Associated Press did a careful investigation of the ‘Sam Bacile’ who supposedly directed the hate film, ‘The Innocence of Muslims.’ And AP found that probably he does not exist, but is a persona used by a convicted Coptic Egyptian fraudster, Nakoula Bassely Nakoula.

But the story gets more complex. Nakoula had Coptic and evangelical associates in the shooting of the film, including Steve Klein, a former Marine and current extremist Christian who has helped train militiamen in California churches and has led “protests outside abortion clinics, Mormon temples and mosques.” My guess is that most of the Egyptian Copts involved are converts to American-style fundamentalism.

The Egyptian Coptic church has roundly condemned the hateful film they made smearing the Prophet Muhammad.

Anyway, the bigotry of the edited film, directed at Muslims, is part of a movement of religious prejudice that also targets . . . Mormons.

Mitt Romney may want to rethink his ‘visceral’ reaction to the US embassy in Cairo’s tweet condemning the group’s hate speech.

Then it turns out that the film was shot in such a way that there was originally no mention of the Prophet Muhammad in the script, and the cast had no idea what they were getting themselves into, and then the name of Muhammad was clumsily dubbed into the final edit.

So, the film was from the beginning a fraud. It was directed by a fraud. It was promoted by a militia trainer. And Nakoula marketed it fraudulently as the work of a fictitious Israeli-American Jewish real estate agent, ‘Sam Bacile,’ and falsely said it had been funded by “a hundred Jewish donors.”

The group behind the film, in other words, managed to evoke all the classic themes of anti-Semitism as a way of disguising the Coptic and evangelical network out of which the ‘film’ came. When they weren’t busy picketing Mormons and defaming Muslims they were trying to get Jews killed for their own smears of Islam!

Of course, given the strident hatred of Muslims promoted by a handful of Jewish American extremists such as Pamela Geller, David Horowitz, Daniel Pipes and others, in which they gleefully join with white supremacists and Christian fundamentalists, it was only a matter of time before their partners in hate turned on them and used them.

The bad, dubbed ‘film’ only had one theater showing in some dowdy place in LA. Then in July the group had the trailer for it dubbed into Arabic with subtitles as well, and put it on Youtube, where it was found by strident Egyptian Muslim fundamentalist Sheikh Khaled Abdallah, who had it shown on al-Nas television and caused the sensation that led to Tuesday’s demonstrations in Cairo and Benghazi. As I argued yesterday, the vigilante extremists or ‘jihadis’ have been left on the garbage pile of history by the democratic elections in Egypt and Libya, and are whipping up the issue of this film in a desperate attempt to remain relevant.

Aware of the building sensation about the film, an employee of the US embassy in Cairo condemned it as hate speech before the rally began outside its premises.

In other words, this is a non-film and a non-story, a fraud, promoted by the worst people in each culture.

In Cairo, the rally allegedly got out of hand because the Ultras or soccer ruffians joined in, and they were probably the ones who tore down the American flag and ran up a black Muslim-fundamentalist one. Ultras are not fundamentalists but they are mischievous and resent authority, so a superpower that backs the army and police they hate might be a target of their wrath. There may have also been a handful of al-Qaeda supporters there, not surprising on the anniversary of September 11. The crowd at the American embassy was tiny by Egyptian protest standards.

In Benghazi, Hadeel Al Shalchi got the story. She talked to Libyan special forces members who explained that there were three stages to the events there. First, there was a demonstration. Then when the police and consulate guards tried to curb it, the demonstrators got angry and some of them went for guns and a rocket propelled grenade, so that the consulate was set on fire and looted. It was at that second stage that US ambassador Chris Stevens and another diplomat were killed (Stevens inhaled too much smoke in the fire and the other man was shot). Stevens’ death is a great tragedy and irony, since he was liaison to the transitional national council during the Libyan revolution and many Libyans lionize him. Why in the world he was in an insecure minor consulate in a provincial city on September 11 is a mystery to me.

Then 37 embassy personnel escaped to a rural safe house. The Libyan special forces commander charged with evacuating them to Tripoli at first was stymied by not having enough vehicles for so many people. Then the safe house came under fairly precise mortar fire from members of an al-Qaeda affiliate operating in Benghazi, which must have been surveilling consular personnel. Finally, the Libyan government forces got the Americans to the airport and they flew back to the capital of Tripoli.

It should be remembered that Libyan forces fought and risked their lives to protect Americans. In opinion polling in Eastern Libya, the United States has a 60% favorability rating, while the Salafis or hard line Muslims stand at only 28% favorable.

It was while all that was going on in Cairo and Benghazi that Mitt Romney took it into his head to condemn Barack Obama for the tweet issued by the Cairo embassy before the demonstration. He alleged that Obama had *reacted* to the embassy attacks by showing some sympathy for the attackers. This allegation is untrue and absurd, but Romney and his running mate Paul Ryan went on repeating it all day Wednesday.

Romney was caught on camera walking away from that shameful performance with a shark-like grin on his face. Since he was talking about matters of life and death, the expression was inappropriate. But a darker theory is that he was grinning about having stuck it to Obama.

Romney’s politicization of September 11 and of the horrible events in Benghazi was poorly received among opinion leaders, including prominent Republicans, and some observers suggest that this miscalculation may have been a decisive nail in the coffin of his sputtering campaign.

Meanwhile, the Libyan government apologized for and vehemently condemned the attack on the consulate and the killing of its personnel. And, on Wednesday Libyans staged pro-American demonstrations in several cities.

In Egypt, in contrast, small demonstrations were held again in front of the US embassy, until police pushed the activists back. When, on Thursday morning, protesters set two cars afire with Molotov cocktails, police arrested 12 of them. The police have the embassy surrounded and have closed the roads leading to it in Garden City.

Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, fell short of strongly condemning the Cairo and Benghazi attacks. Late on Wednesday the Muslim Brotherhood finally retweeted comments of one of its other leaders, Khairat al-Shater, in condemnation of the attacks. Nevertheless, the Brotherhood is sponsoring rallies protesting the film on Friday, a ‘day of rage.’ Morsi is no doubt worried that religious and political currents to his right will outflank him on the issue of the blasphemous film and its American provenance. But Morsi has a Ph.D. from the US and surely knows that the US government cannot suppress films, and it is shameful that he did not condemn forthrightly the killing of Ambassador Stevens and the others.

In Tunisia, Salafis rallied on Wednesday in front of the US embassy, but were fairly quickly dispersed by police deploying tear gas. Tunisian president Moncef Marzouki denounced the killing of Stevens and the others as an “act of terrorism.”

So the Butterfly Effect set off by a low-budget bad propaganda film gotten up by two-bit frauds and Christian supremacists, and then promoted by two-bit Egyptian and Libyan fundamentalists, has provoked some squalls and cost the lives of four good men.

The storm provoked by this butterfly has revealed character on an international scale. The steely determination of an Obama to achieve justice, the embarrassing grandstanding of a Romney, the destructive hatred of a handful of extremists in Cairo and Benghazi, and the decency and warmth toward the US of the Libyan crowds, all were thrown into stark relief by the beating of the butterfly’s wings.

In the end, the violence and extremism of the hardliners on both sides is a phantasm of the past, not a harbinger of the future. The wave of democratic politics sweeping the region has left the haters behind, reducing them to desperate and senseless acts of violence that will gain them no good will, no popularity, no political credibility.

A little-noted major event of Wednesday was the democratic selection of a new prime minister in Libya for the first time in the country’s history. Mustafa Abushagur defeated the Muslim Brotherhood candidate handily. Abushagur for a long time taught college in the US, at the University of Alabama Huntsville. Libyans again showed themselves nationalist and non-fundamentalist. This remarkable achievement, and what it portends for the shape of Libyan politics, will be drowned out by the atrocity in Benghazi, but it is the development that is likely to be marked by future historians as a turning point in Libya and in the Middle East.

107 Responses

  1. The problem is not the movie. Any one who has some sane mind will say that the whole movie is a made by a moron with one motto in mind that is hurting the Muslim community through out world.
    The reaction of Muslim world is more interesting. If a moron movie can cause such unrest, protest and attack in which an ambassador is killed then it is an extremely dangerous example. The basic question is Why Muslim r so sensitive and why the behave in a barbaric manner when ever they think that their feelings are hurt. It is like taking world in to hostage.
    Why not christian react in such way when a any documentary is attacking the basic tenants of Christianity Why not Hindus react when a preacher like Zakir Naik is constantly ridiculing Hinduism in India and openly attempting to convert Hindus in India. Why not Hindus react when Church in south India publishes ridiculous and blasphemy books on Hinduism?
    A cartoon can cause an unrest in whole Muslim world but the pathetic condition in which they are living without any freedom of expression doesn’t cause any unrest? Any who will watch the trailer on YouTube will say the movie is MORON. The butterfly effect is set-off not by a low budget movie but it is carefully crafted low budget marketing effort to achieve the objective through an extremely bad product. They knew that it is enough to create the reaction and they r right. Don’t you find it is extremely dangerous that how much it is easy to cause unrest in Muslim world. A book, ten minute movie, cartoons and Moron movie. This movie is just an addition in the series of the unrest which started from The Satanic Verses.

    • > The basic question is Why Muslim r so sensitive

      You are also making the common mistake of equating the rioters with the average Muslim.
      If “Muslim r so sensitive” as you put it, why weren’t there thousands, or millions of people protesting violently?

      The people who attacked the US embassies are as representative of the average Muslim as the Waco people are for the average Christian, or American.

      The false associations are the main reason for most wars and genocides – to believe that all people in a country, or a religion, are “alike” and are thus to be punished for anything that their fellow countrymen, or fellow believers, say or do.

    • Mr. Kumar, it’s disingenuous to pretend that’s there no Hindu extremism or violence. But that’s not the point…

      Most non-Muslims can’t understand the strength of a Muslims’s feelings on seeing this trashy film, because for most of them, religion does not play the same central role in their lives.

      To use another analogy, though, consider the reaction of many Americans to an insult to the American flag. Before anyone knew what happened in Libya, online forums were already flooded with comments calling for killing all Muslims, nuking Makkah, sending them back to the Stone Age, etc. Why? Because some Egyptians had destroyed an American flag.

      • I have not said that Hindu Extremism doesn’t exist. The problem is you think that religion play the central role in the life of MUSLIM only.
        It is a tricky situation. In Pakistan an 11 year old Girl is arrested for BLASPHEMY. Hindus girls are kidnapped and converted on regular basis. Kashmiri Pandit are thrown out of Kashmir in a week in 1989. The population of Hindus in Pakistan has been reduced to 2% from 15% and in Bangladesh to 7% from 28%.
        Muslim society never react when all these injustice is being done. They keep silent. Injustice to any other minority population in a MUSLIM majority society is part and parcel because the religion allows it.
        Muslim Population in ARAB world doesn’t react when Mosab Hassan Yousef son of Sheikh Hassan Yousef the founder of HAMAS wrote SON OF HAMAS. They choose to ignore it but when reacting on MORONIC movie. I think that an attack on ideology in any should be dealt with ideology.

      • “Most non-Muslims can’t understand the strength of a Muslims’s feelings on seeing this trashy film, because for most of them, religion does not play the same central role in their lives.

        To use another analogy, though, consider the reaction of many Americans to an insult to the American flag. Before anyone knew what happened in Libya, online forums were already flooded with comments calling for killing all Muslims, nuking Makkah, sending them back to the Stone Age, etc. Why? Because some Egyptians had destroyed an American flag.”

        That Muslims consider Islam central to their lives does not in any way justify the demonstrations that have occurred. A more rational response would be to denounce the trashy film for what it is.

        And your anology, equating the Arab demonstrations and destruction with Americans’ reaction to burning the flag, does not hold up. Americans are not demonstrating and setting fires in front of Egyptian and other Arab Embassies in Washington or anywhere else. There are rational and irrational ways to protest. You need to distinguish between the two.

    • In regions that are unstable, it is especially easy to forment unrest and extreme reactions. You use Christianity and Hinduism as counterexamples, ignoring attacks on abortion clinics in the US and riots in Assam, respectively (There’s also the Naxalites in India, but that’s something of a different matter). Or even the recent mining riots in South Africa, which are not religiously based (and not aimed at US interests either, I suppose). The reason you see so few examples elsewhere, proportionally, is because the United States and India are both much more stable politically and socially than the regions these incidents tend to happen in. Libya ousted a decades-long dictatorship only a year ago, as did Egypt, there is still something of a power vaccuum as a young government struggles to establish itself and consolodate power. That is, by definition, unstable. All the worse, fundamentalist and extremist elements that found a place to thrive in the chaos of the uprising are struggling to remain relevant using incidents like these, by intentionally destablizing democratic and moderate institutions. It is less about Islam (as there are many muslim nations where these incidents do not happen), and more about poverty, peace, and a lack of prosperity.

    • The basic question is Why Muslim r so sensitive and why the behave in a barbaric manner when ever they think that their feelings are hurt.

      Muslims, as a whole, are not. This was not the spontaneous reaction of ordinary Muslims to the movie. This was the act of a small number of political extremists who used the movie as an excuse.

      the pathetic condition in which they are living without any freedom of expression doesn’t cause any unrest?

      I wonder, did you miss 2011? What do you think the uprisings across the Arab world – in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, elsewhere – were about? Cartoons?

    • I think you haven’t read much as far as news concerning other groups that have been offended and caused large riots. Furthermore, I feel you’re being voluntarily selective as it says right here in this article, a few examples of Christians who protested abortion clinics. Doesn’t that ring a bell, any bell at all, about the horrible, barbaric things Christians do in the U.S. all the time? Of course, that doesn’t hit headlines like this stuff does, because the news is about things that are new.

    • What is “moronic” (and lacking in any sense of proportion) is the way in which you’re prepared to ridcule and stigmatise literally billions of people because of the actions of a motley crowd of a few hundred protesters and football fans, whipped up and led up Salafi fundamentalists… Probably even they had nothing to do with the killing of the four US officials (read link to edition.cnn.com).

    • How little it takes to drive white right-wing Christians into a frenzy! A frenzy of voting for maniacs like George W. Bush. With a twitch of their fingers they can put a dangerous man’s finger on the nuclear button. No Moslem has that power. So Moslems do more dramatic things, which we condemn as barbarism. The far right in America can sublimate their violent natures by simply getting the government to do the violence for them, at home and abroad. They were more honest back in the old days when they went around with hoods and ropes and carried out direct action against those they wished to forever oppress.

    • @Juan- well written
      @Abinav- If a southern US preacher got a hold of a 17 minute preview of a movie that ‘played in a major Cairo theater’, and portrayed Jesus Christ as a child molesting sheep rapist, and if he showed that to his congregation, they would burn down mosques or anything associated with what they thought was Muslim culture.
      Don’t believe me?
      link to usatoday.com

      This whole ‘Christians don’t get offended’ thing just doesn’t fly.

      Extremists don’t define the whole. Get over it.

    • Abhinav,

      While there is no excuse for the violence, the degree of extreme reaction is in part because it is a group with more power insulting one with less.

      If someone who is your equal or inferior insults you, you might be annoyed or shrug it off but it doesn’t cut you to your soul.

      If someone powerful insults you, it cuts more deeply for two reasons: one, you feel helpless to defend yourself if the insults are followed by physical attacks. Two, you subconsciously wonder if ARE inferior in more ways than just power–and you have to protest to convince yourself you aren’t.

      Here in the US, that is why the “N word” directed at black people has a profound emotional effect while no insult directed at whites has any real emotional resonance except with some conservatives who wish they felt insulted,

  2. The reaction in the “Arab street” is not against the film – it is only the match who light the fire. The resentment in the Arab world against western civilization and humanity view point, which it represents, is so huge that blaming the film is just looking the other way around.

    You most face that there is a growing trend of extremist and bigotry in the muslim world to counter outside (Western) influence.

    Blaming the director or the film or any other issue is just to put your head in the sand. There is a storm in the horizon, we are feeling it first breeze.

    • Quite a Anglo-centric attitude you’ve got there, bro. See, you totally missed the point that these were a handful of extremists acting and not representative of a culture. There isn’t going to be a race war; remember the Arab Spring? Remember what just happened in Libya, the election of a non-Muslim Brotherhood prime minister? Times are changing, but not if people like you continue to believe misrepresentations and stereotypes that breed a fear of Muslim people.
      Don’t call for a race war, as you have. Don’t believe we in the west are better or more civilized than those in the east. Plenty of Christians here in the United States have been cruel and destructive towards Muslims, you simply pay no attention to it. We are all the same.

      • Let me open by saying that I am an Israeli, Living all of my life in Israel, raise by the same values as you probably was raised. I position myself as a left wing, liberal, peace lover (although served in the the army for 6 years as fully combatant officer), pro-democratic activist.

        It was my dream (and many other like me in Israel) that some day, the countries around us will have the sense to move into a democratic government, since by our hypothesis: peace among people is stronger than the peace among nations.

        When the dust from the Arab spring had settled, some countries had made the transition while others are still in the process. But the outcome is not exactly what I was waiting for. If anything I sense that the very fragile peace between our neighbors is in higher risk than ever before.

        I still hope the egyptians, Tunisian, Lybian and Syrian will practice democracy while maintaining peace with us. BUT we feel that the extreme Islamic forces are on the rise. This is time for us to “speak softly, but carry a big stick”. as one of your smart president said many years ago – very relevant for us today.

        We can not afford ourselves to get it wrong – if we miscalculate only a single time (as we did in 1973 war) our existence will not be assured at all.

        I agree with you about rise of the pro-democratice movement in the Arab world, but living in the middle east, I most also look without hesitation to the other force that rises…and we cannot ignore it, even when it does not suite our hypothesis.

        I do hope the Arabs will finalize with the idea that we are her to stay. But they don’t we are in a road to a very wide conflict..

        • AK43, will you try to help your surrounding neighbors move more quickly to democracy by working to change your own right wing, war mongering, provocative government and obtain justice for the folks living in Palestine? Eliminating that big ulcer of injustice in the Middle East would do a lot to help control anger and unrest.

          Personally, I had not thought there even was a “left wing” in Israel anymore. I urge y’all to SPEAK UP.

    • These mob actions were tiny compared to the protests in Egypt and Tunisia, or the uprisings in Libya and Syria, or the rallies there were commonly staged in Iraq during the occupation.

      It just isn’t true that this is growing. If anything, the opposite is happening.

  3. juan–i think you are minimizing the widespread rage in the middle east toward the u.s. and it’s malignant policies and persistent meddling in their affairs. there is a larger pattern here that you refuse to acknowledge, whether it is the aghan soldiers killing americans or these demonstrations; the middle east wants the yankee–the great satan– to go home. the middle east has had it with america’s humanitarian campaigns that result in murder, division, and de-development in the region.

  4. As a mother with a son in foreign service at an embassy in the Middle east, I find this not only informative, but brilliant. I hope your message reaches the ears of those who need to hear it most. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  5. Thanks to his uninformed yet smug news conference Monday about the Libya and Egupt attacks, I finally put my finger on what it is about the Republican who would be president that is so bothersome: There is something fundamentally untouched about Willard “Mitt” Romney, something offensively virginal.

    The few lines in his face that supporters might confuse for life experience are actually the lines of an overindulged child who has never been beaten and tear gassed by the police at a peaceful demonstration, or been locked away in a precinct house and denied the use of a toilet, and certainly not chained to the floor of a huge Air Force transport flying him hooded to a secret prison in a remote corner of a Caribbean island where the government providing the free flight hopes the world will forget about him.

    “Overindulged child” puts Romney in perspective. He’s a man who never had to decide whether to pay the electric company or the rent, or balance whether buying a piece of fruit today means he might not have enough cash to refill a prescription next week. He has no idea what the word “struggle” means and he lets everyone else know it.

    Romney gives off a kind of full-of-himself belief that being nimble and clever and lucky – very lucky, starting with the accident of birth that found him being swaddled by a talented father – transcends the reality of any sort of human suffering.

    • Not that strangely, thinking about that picture this morning, I had exactly the same thoughts.

    • Charley James, I do not think nor believe one has to have lived in poverty to have compassion. On that account, I do not buy into your thesis. Life experience isn’t everything, only one factor among many that make up the human individual.

      Methinks Romney has other issues that have stunted his empathy. What those are I won’t speculate on. Yet, when it comes to experience, he has something in common with the president. They both consulted. They both went to Harvard Law school. (talk about privilege!) Neither one has ever had a “real ” job. Where they really part company is that Romney is the product of a father who was very present in his life. Obama is the product of the absent father. That, to my way of thinking, is Romney’s real luck; the intact family.

      • Well, Obama didn’t have the millions of dollars from American Motors either.

        In fact, while once upon a time you could find liberal presidents from wealthy backgrounds like the Roosevelts and Kennedy, and conservative presidents from poor backgrounds like that bastard Nixon, it seems that the stereotypes are becoming reality, with Clinton and Obama coming from very unpromising backgrounds, and the GOP’s top contenders devolving into a succession of Nth generation aristocrats – or the blatant pets of such aristocrats like the Kochs. It’s not even enough to be rich; you have to be connected to many other rich people here and abroad (to Saudi Arabia by the Carlyle Group or to Israel by Adelson, for example).

        This is a bad sign simply because it means the age of the public-spirited tycoon who has the connections to put together a functioning cabinet with at least the cooperation of the fatcats is coming to an end. The rich of America no longer want to compromise, negotiate, or reason. They do not want to share power; they can no longer imagine a limit on how much they deserve. They must replace Americans who feel differently with those who accept and enforce their proper place on the basis of natural, even God-made inequality.

    • Though I agree with your assessment of Romney, I saw his presser on Wednesday – I watched the eyes. They showed a spitefulness and maliciousness gleam. It reminded me of the news story on how he and his friends attacked their schoolmate and cut off his hair. And how Romney let the door slam in a blind minister’s face. All done in his childhood days for which I am sure there are more.

      This is the bully, arrogance showing that embedded in Mitt Romney.

    • Amen. It’s hard to imagine a more clear and more offensive example of pure privilege than Mitt Romney.

    • Nicely put. To make matters worse, Paul Ryan is similarly an overindulged adolescent, with his facile Ayn Rand philosophy and elevation as a “serious” budget guy. As Krugman and others have well established by now, Ryan is a fraud. This candidate combo is not only dangerous to the economy, but foreign affairs as well.

    • The original justification for extreme inequality when America was founded was that a republic could only be governed by those with the “leisure time” and proper respect for prosperity and stability. Athens and Rome were used as exemplars. That meant, obviously, slaveowners.

      The question is, why are Americans falling back into acceptance of this sort of thinking, which was largely swept away by the Jacksonian Democracy era 180 years ago?

      A. Modern Americans are exposed to massive, overwhelming amounts of pro-rich, pro-greed propaganda, beyond Rockefeller’s and Carnegie’s wildest dreams. At least until Youtube and reality TV, everyone you saw on video was either a well-paid entertainer (of one sort or another) or a criminal/victim. All commercials for private companies are selling not just the ostensible goods, but the well-being that the goods, via the wonderful corporation, provide you. How can that not warp your mind?

      B. A darker interpretation: now that whites can no longer openly proclaim white supremacy, they need a surrogate virtue that stereotypically favors whites over non-whites. While the pre-New Right south was always very pro-private property, the fusion of Southern “values” with libertarian extremism across the nation appears to me to be a way of saying that whites and their values are responsible for capitalism, the most wonderful and infallible thing ever intented, ergo (insert your favorite inequality here). Practical effect: the white bigot must look to the corporate CEO as his tribal leader, the only one with the power to protect his kind against the Other.

      Romney, like Reagan and the Bushes before him, tries to ride this two-headed beast, both high priest and robber baron like the patriarchs of old.

  6. When we refer to Muslim fundamentalists, we are talking of violent people who adhere to basic fundamental principles in the Koran advocating violence against non-believers. The Christian Bible does not advocate violence to non-believers; it’s message is one of love. I would say you are misusing the word “fundamentalist” in this otherwise excellent article by applying it to the self-deluded hate-mongers who claim the title Christian but do not live it.

    • Have you read the Koran? The Koran does not promote violence against non-believers. These terrorists too are people who claim Islam and do not live it. Don’t get your information from Islam-haters or Muslim-extremists and take it for granted. Since its not very practical for every person to read the Koran, I’ll just point you to an objective short article, not written by Muslims: link to abcnews.go.com
      Do you really think that over 1 billion people would believe in a religion that is violent?

      • Thank you. And do you really believe that so many people (including many intelligent, thinking Westerners – more women than men)would be converting to it?

        Noran asked if you’d read the Quran. I’d also ask: have you read the Old Testament?

    • JL3, why should you refer to Muslim fundamentalists as real Muslims, and not use the same epithet for Christian fundamentalists? You say the latter aren’t “real” Christians. I suggest you look up the “No True Scotsman” argument.

      Christians have a long, sorry history of finding people who aren’t Christians and simply killing them out of hand. Ask a Mayan about the Spanish, or a Naragansett about the Pilgrims. (The Spanish would “baptize” children by drowning them in wells. The Pilgrims simply went to Native villages and killed everyone present. So at least they dropped the pretense).

      And the Bible is quite specific about violence against non-believers. See: Leviticus. And Numbers. The Bible also says that a rapist gets to marry the woman he raped. Joy for all! /sarcasm

      The New Testament isn’t much better. You did read Paul on the subject of homosexuality?

      There’s also, of course, that bit about the speck in the other man’s eye and the bean in one’s own.

    • In the Old Testament, God and his prophets repeatedly demand massacres of those who stand on land that God has designated for the Hebrews, and those who practice paganism. And where does the line “suffer not a witch to live” come from, huh?

  7. President Obama has demonstrated that he is the one courageous leader in this whole sorry affair. Romney used this tragedy to play the worst kind of politics and dug himself into a hole. Morsi showed that he does not have the courage to buck his Right Wing and strongly condemn the attacks on our Embassies and killing of our diplomats. As for Libya, sadly, it does not have the capacity to provide the forces that would have been necessary to protect the US Consulate in Benghazi.

    President Obama hit the nail squarely on the head when he said that Egypt is neither “enemy nor ally.” This is a new reality we need to come to terms with. We need to support Egypt as long as it remains relatively moderate, but we should distance ourselves from any idea that it will remain a “friend” in the traditional sense of the term. We should be prepared to carefully calibrate our relationship with Morsi, depending upon his policies and how they affect the US. Pandering to anti-US elements, in the hope that we can persuade them to adopt a more benign attitude, will not work. It simply fosters further contempt.

  8. That resonates with such pure truth that I just had to say, “Harrumph, harrumph”.

  9. A really long dissertation in a well orchestrated effort to continue the media’s four year love affair with Obama!

  10. The “butterfly effect,” it needs to be said, is intimately elated to the concept of chaos, or a practically unmanageable complexity and unpredictability.

    The lesson/observation to draw is how even a small and unintentional act can have big consequences. Speaking more practically, with modern technologies and communications, a trivial but intentional act, which this may have been, can cause enormous damage and has to be acknowledged as (perhaps) a powerful act of willful political inflammation.

    What we’ve seen might actually be a more proper use of the word “terrorism.”

  11. I viewed the trailer in English.
    It looked like something I could make – buffoonish.

    But when dubbed into another language, the obvious buffoonery – particularly the overdubs in English – vanishes.

    It is not as obvious to someone watching the Arabic language version how badly made this film is.

  12. Well written, researched article. Thank you for the unsentimental background and analysis. This is information a person can use to build a reasonable understanding of the world.

  13. Overall, this is an excellent article. However, the statement that the events in Benghazi “cost the lives of four good men” overlooks the Libyan guards who (as I understand) were also killed during the attack on the US consulate.

    The US media never gives as much attention to loss of life by citizens of other countries as it does to the loss of American life. On this occasion, such an omission exacerbates both the misperception by conservatives that all Muslims hate Americans AND the misperception by citizens of other countries that we don’t value their lives.

  14. Wouldn’t it be nice if every news story and tragic event or political turmoil was treated in this finely written, explanatory, fair and balanced way.

  15. I think the narrative provided here is based on wishful thinking.
    Events portray a chaotic mess where disseperate groups bannded together to get rid of Gadaffi, but since he’d been lynched, nothing holds these different groups together.
    The invasion by the west and arming these groups left an explosive situation which has come back to bite the US in the ass.
    Libya is hardly a model of peace and stability, but it is awash in US supplied arms!

    • The Ambassador’s death was caused by an RPG, a Soviet weapon which countries like Gaddafy’s Libya were well-supplied with. If only the US military-industrial complex still bothered to build weapons as simple, cheap and useful as the RPG!

  16. I think it’s too early to judge who is responsible for the film. A fraudster would not make a film for free. Presumably there is some half-serious money (say, $100,000?) behind him.

    Furthermore, there’s the question of who publicized the film and spread the false rumor that it had appeared on US TV.

    I’m disappointed in AP for reporting that Bacile was an Israeli before fully checking out his story. I wonder whether that, in itself, might not have contributed to the reaction in the Arab world. But I can understand that it’s not so easy verifying the identity of a man whose livelihood is based on deception.

    • In Egypt, where this was movie first publicized, it was said from the beginning that it was made by Copts living in the U.S. It was after that that the guy gave an interview and claimed to be an Israeli, and that was found to be a lie anyway. I don’t think the ‘Jewish’ aspect played into it that much.

    • It still runs deeper …

      Producer Of Anti-Islam Film Was Fed Snitch

      Some more …
      Eiad Salameh Shu’aybat my first cousin (Salameh’s son) is wanted by the United States for major fraud most likely linked to financial terrorism. He was involved in a passport fraud operation (provided to me by Farid my brother), Enfamil milk scam, and holds an illegal Israeli passport that was fraudulently obtained to smuggle himself in and out of Israel proper. His United States citizenship was also obtained by fraudulently by claiming to be a Mexican farm worker. In fact a litany of stories on embezzlement and fraud can be tracked on Eiad.

  17. Interesting to see Coptic Christians specifically identified with all this.

    I had a heated exchange with the head of a local Russian Orthodox Church after he posted a Brevik-style racist and anti-Muslim diatribe that used as its primary rationalization the alleged mistreatment of Coptic Christians in Egypt and Somalia at the hands of Muslims.

    When I pointed out 1) the illogic of equating the behavior of individuals with the precepts of a religion, and 2) the identical racist and anti-Muslim wording in his writing and in the writing of Anders Brevik, he stopped replying.

    At that point I broke off all association with that church.

    • Thank you! It’s great that some people can still keep a clear mind in the middle of all this. As a muslim, I’m extremely saddened by how some poeple are sabotaging the religion they claim. It is illogical to equate behavior of people to their religion, but most people are guilty of stereotyping and unfortunately, the bad guys are usually the ones that make the most noise. And there have been political reasons for advertising this perception. So I can’t really blame the simple guy,who knows very little about the rest of the world, for making this association.

  18. “In the older model of Newtonian physics, small events have small effects and large events have large effects, so you wouldn’t expect a minor action to produce big changes.”

    Newtonian/Modern isn’t quite the right distinction here. After all, the weather works on purely Newtonian principles. Newtonian gravitation in the celestial sphere also gives splendid, incomprehensibly complicated effects of the type you allude to when more than 2 bodies are involved. An excellent, accessible reference is Ivar Ekelund, Mathematics and the Unexpected.

  19. Even though they have backtracked in the last 24 hours, I think it was the Administration’s early remarks that have caused much of the trouble, such as Secretary Clinton’s: “The U.S. deplores any intentional effort to denigrate the religious beliefs of others.” But the filmmakers merely exercised their freedom. There is no law in this country against insulting another religion. None. Nor can there be unless the First Amendment be repealed. In other words, Romney’s early statements on this have been far superior than those emanating from the Administration, though in recent hours Sec. Clinton is starting to stand up correctly and place blame for the violence with the direct perpetrators, where it belongs.

    A far better early statement from the embassy would have been: “The United States is made up of 300 million free people from all backgrounds. Though the US government had no involvement in the making of the film, we support the rights even of misguided individuals to speak freely and even offensively, even if it hurts the religious feelings of Muslims – not because we dislike Muslims, but because we protect free speech. We also support the right of misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Christians or Jews or Buddhists or Hindus. There is no right ‘not to be offended’ in American values.”

    • To me, you miss the point. The purpose of the embassy statement was to reduce the building tension. It was clearly made within the context of upholding free speech. The embassy is not obligated to pontificate on free speech every time it upholds it. On the contrary, I think the embassy excercised free speech by disagreeing with the sentiments of the film makers who were also exercising THEIR free speech. What could speak better of the first amendment.

    • The fact is that there is no absolute right to free speech. There are all kinds of restrictions, in the law, in the press, and even on media like Youtube. The press doesn’t print things due to ‘national security’, they don’t print the names of sexual assault victims, etc. In the UK, the press has all kinds of restrictions about what they print in terms of libel, and about the ‘royal’ family. (For example, of them refrained from showing the nude pictures of Prince Harry – although they regularly show topless women – until one finally did it; the others never did. And they all passed on the topless photos of Kate. Their press commission has a chilling effect on freedom of the press.) In Germany, you can’t deny the holocaust. In France, it’s against the law to deny the Armenian genocide. In Italy, they banned the movie ‘Lion of the Desert’ because it offended the honor of their army. (Released in 1981, it wasn’t shown on Italian TV until 2009.) In Thailand, you go to jail for insulting the king. Many countries have libel and blasphemy laws (usually left over from British colonial law). These are just a few examples, but we do restrict freedom of speech for various reasons. (I’m not arguing whether these examples make sense or not – that’s not the point.)

  20. Juan, Is it true that ultra-religious Salafi’s are behind this?

    No specific group claimed responsibility for the attack, which was well orchestrated and involved heavy weapons. It is thought to be the work of the same Salafi, ultra-religious groups who have perpetrated similar assaults in Benghazi. They are religious, authoritarian groups who justify their actions through very selective, corrupt, and ultimately self-serving interpretations of Islam. Under Qaddafi, they kept quiet. In the early days of the revolution some of them claimed that fighting Qaddafi was un-Islamic and conveniently issued a fatwa demanding full obedience to the ruler. This is Libya’s extreme right.

    Read more link to newyorker.com

    Thank you,
    JL

  21. While the Libyan civil war was raging, I don’t remember Benghazi being characterized as a mere “provincial” city. Benghazi is the second-largest city in Libya, and it was the heart of the rebellion.

  22. “Why in the world he was in an insecure minor consulate in a provincial city on September 11 is a mystery to me.”

    No mystery: because it was his job. The purpose of the U.S. Foreign Service isn’t to sit in a fortress as a token American presence, it’s to get involved and interact with people. Usually that means the political figures, but often also business, civil society, and, yes, the people.

    If being safe were more important than effectively conducting foreign policy and representing American interests abroad, he’d probably have been in Anne Arbor.

  23. To go along with the notion that humans as a group can’t really do much better than we are currently doing, there always being miserable skulch like WhoeverBasileActuallyIs and his backers, maybe you-all remember another effort to light the fuses at home and abroad: That 2005 video production that actually had some “production values,” if none of the other kind, and won some awards at right-wing film festivals, Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West, link to en.wikipedia.org It was quite an ugly surprise to have that fall out of my Sunday newspaper, here in St. Pete, FL.

    It’s even got a home of its own: link to obsessionthemovie.com And of course if you tune in to the “Christian” TV channels, Judeo-Christian even, there’s a whole lot more of that kind of stuff out there: “Who cares if the planet dies, as long as MY kind prevail or are the last to die!”

    And of course in the Muslim world, you can bet that there are people who are morally and spiritually indistinguishable from the creatures here in America and England and France and Germany and even Norway, all of whom who peddle and live these messages designed to stir the pot, ignite the torches, and keep the ranks of the circular firing squads filled, just not with the shadowy personages standing behind and handing up full 30-round clips of .223 and 7.62 and .308 ammo, to the testosterone-poisoned, flag-wrapped fools in the front rank, just as fast as they can…

  24. Fascinating w.r.t. Middle East.

    As to USA, “a decisive nail in the coffin of his sputtering campaign” seems to assume a “sputtering campaign” which I would hope for but do not yet see. Still, from your mouth to God’s ear.

  25. Very thoughtful laid-out analysis.

    (Til you get to the Romney stuff anyway.)

  26. I have read the US Ambassador was in the city to open a US Cultural centre. He only had been there for 3-4 days.

    The news report on the movie trailer was only released a few days ago.

    I think you’re misinformed on one thing- the attack in Benghazi was a planned operation. One of the policemen guarding the compound was seen to be taking pictures before the attack. The protesters were told to back off when men with guns arrived and the protest itself was a cover for the attack. After the diplomats fled to a safe house, they came under attack by well directed mortar fire. After the attack, they fled taking their dead and wounded with them.

    This was no spur of the moment thing. They attacked when the Ambassador was on site, knew where the safe house was, were well directed, well planned and performed their attack very well.

    Planning and working out an attack of this magnitude was not done in a day. Someone was behind this, and they knew exactly what they were doing.

  27. Dr. Cole I cannot agree. This is no more a butterfly than a crude, overdubbed movie depicting Jesus as a verbal oaf as he and Mary Magdelene engage in a very explicit sexual union. It is relatively true that America does not censor films, or stupidity for that matter. But America has long recognized incitement to riot and yelling fire in a theater as acts worthy of preventative laws. This film was intended to incite on an international stage, not inform or express artistic expression. And, using the ‘follow the money’ dictum regarding motivation, there are more parties than one that could presently view a little fire in the theater as a good thing for them.

  28. We often forget that Middle East is not just composed of Islamists but a great number of secularists even atheists as the history attests. And they find the extremist Islam dangerous and detrimental to their well-being and future of the region. Having said that, there is a collective amnesia in America about history. Witness H. Clinton who lamented that this incident happened in a country that we helped liberate. But excuse me Madame, the secularist says, we do not share your amnesia; we see the historical injustices you have brought upon us. Only 4 Americans were killed in this unfortunate incident – and loss of any life is regrettable – but dozens are killed by drones every week.

  29. We have lived through the butterfly effect for the past ten years.

    Consider what effect the poor design of the 2000 Florida “butterfly” ballot has had on our nation and the world.

  30. I wish I could be as optimistic as you are about the future of the Arab world. I’m terrified of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and I’m appaled that the Libyans were unable to protect the Embassy. The Islamists are frightening, and in this country I can see them using our Democracy against us to achieve their own ends. Yes I am disgusted by the Pam Gellers and the people who send me their material telling me how wonderful it is. But while it is false and twisted, it’s always based on a kernal of truth.

    • Barbara, I live in the Middle East, and I’m curious to know exactly what you’re frightened of from the Muslim Brotherhood. They’re really just normal people and not at all terrifying.

  31. The Guardian (UK) and the LA Times have both gestured at the SoCal evangelical connection, but I am still waiting for a proper investigation of it. I was not at all surprised that Klein is from Riverside, that “Bacile” owns a house in Cerritos, or that the actress now loudly protesting her innocence was from Bakersfield. There are a lot of people down here with some very dangerous views. I’m sick as it is of people patriotically protesting in SUPPORT of war criminals outside Pendleton. This is just more fuel on the fire.

  32. The Libyan in Juan’s picture tells us that the thugs and killers who murdered Christopher Stevens don’t represent her society.

    The western leftists in his comment threads assure us that they do.

    I’m gong to go with the opinion of the nice young lady in the head scarf.

    Libyans fought and died to protect Chris Stevens and the rest of the embassy staff, just like they fought and died to overthrow Gadhaffi. The actual Libyan people don’t seem too terribly interested in the fake anti-imperialism one finds all to frequently on political blogs.

  33. The only concern I have with this article is that at one point it states the issue “cost the lives of four good men.” Four American men, that is. Sorry, weren’t there ten Libyan men killed in the Benghazi incident? Don’t Arab lives count? This is a distressing approach to such incidents, that anyone Western is counted as somehow being more important than anyone non-Western.

  34. Thanks for pulling this together. I have come to rely on your site when matters become inflamed in the Mideast.

  35. Thank you for the great depth on this story. But did you mean Romney “jumped the gun?”

    (However amused I am by the thought of Romney on a surfboard in a Perfecto jacket…)

  36. The hate-Muslims film currently in the news is not the first of its kind, and one of predecessors was distributed by The Oregonian and other major newspapers in the US.

    In September, 2008, the Oregonian got paid by a rightwing fringe group to distribute“Obsession: Radical Islam’s War Against the West.” an anti-Muslim CD. The paper took the money of the Clarion Fund, which is still in the business of fomenting hate of Muslims and, according to the NY Times
    link to nytimes.com

    is bankrolled by several families and foundations. The newspaper distribution of its 2008 CD, was bankrolled with over $18M some of which came from the notorious casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

    The Oregonian distributed a hateful anti-Muslim DVD with its Sunday paper in 2008 [My hede, Blue Oregon’s story-MM]
    Kari Chisholm

    This is unbelievable, but true.

    A right-wing group called “The Clarion Fund” has produced a DVD that’s been described as a “highly inaccurate, biased and hateful” screed against Muslims. It’s being distributed in newspapers across the country.

    And according to the Mercury, the office of Mayor Tom Potter has learned that the Oregonian is planning to distribute the DVD in Sunday’s newspaper.

    Mayor Potter has called the Oregonian’s publisher, Fred Stickel, to ask him to reject the DVD. From the Merc:

    The mayor reportedly told Stickel: “If you’re planning on distributing this, please don’t. It contributes to a climate of distrust towards Muslims, and holds the entire Muslim community accountable for the actions of a dangerously misguided few.”
    If you can stomach it, watch a few minutes of the film on YouTube.

    Call Fred Stickel at 503-221-8140. Seems to me that if the DVD does get distributed, they’d should be returned to the Oregonian. Drop yours off (or mail it – just 83 cents!) to:

    Attn: Fred Stickel

    Visit my website http://www.michaelmunk.c

  37. You state at the top of the page “I do my best to provide an independent and informed perspective”. But it’s a lie, you didn’t try here.

    Your analysis of the video, the reaction and the killings was indeed informative and level-headed. But as soon as Obama is mentioned you go completely “fan boy”.

    “The steely determination of an Obama to achieve justice, the embarrassing grandstanding of a Romney…” Really?! Who are fooling when you say “independent perspective”?

  38. Some years ago PBS aired three documentaries on fundamentalism in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism highlighting their glaring similarities. We can find horrible acts by religious extremists all over the world.

    The idea of Romney being an isolated, pampered child has some appeal but I think of him as 2008 John McCain on steroids. McCain abandoned any principles he had to get the Republican nomination and make a run at the presidency. Romney has demonstrated that he will say and do anything to win.

    Thanks for the perspective on recent events.

  39. Geller does not feel “turned on” does she? Has Horowitz said he was “turned on” by his former allies yet?

    Of course if Ghadafi were still in power “AQ” could not have shot off “fairly precise” mortar fire. As the Russian
    press has elaborated thereupon.

    Tactics which Prof Cole calls “desperate” have an echo in such as Rummy and Cheney’s and the Afghan command’s characterization of resilient insurgencies attacks as those of a desperate fading force.

    But maybe this is different.

  40. The US and its NATO allies flew 10,000 sorties during which a weapon was launched. Is it inconceivable that at least a few Libyans were enraged by the bombings and the losses they caused? Couldn’t a few swear themselves to blood vengeance?

    Or must we assume that any ill feelings by Libyans, no matter their personal suffering from the air campaign, are improper, and indicative of militant/terrorist tendencies? When we do our military violence, we never feel the recipient’s pain. Quite the contrary, we convince ourselves that such pain does not exist.

  41. Consider that the people who are involved in the production and well-timed distribution of this “movie” do not have histories that suggest they have the necessary smarts to be that organized.

    Consider that over the course of this summer two things have been going on: Netanyahu has been getting more and more shrill about Iran, and the Obama Adeministration has been doing all it can to get Netanyahu to STFU, even to the point of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs stating ten days ago that the US would not be “complicit” in any Israeli strike against Iran. The Chief of Staff of the IDF and the former heads of Mossad and Shin Bet are publicly against an Iran war and polls show the Israeli public would rather not, but Netanyahu and the political far right in Israel want it the way an 8-year old wants a pony for Christmas.

    Back in June, rumors started flying that Netanyahu would find a way to intervene in the US election, against Obama.

    So “coincidentally” a bunch of people without the ability to carry out what they appear to have carried out get together and make this movie.

    And then “coincidentally” the week after General Casey says we won’t be “complicit”, this “obscure” Copt posts this Arabic version on YouTube, where it is “found” by this “strident Islamic fundamentalist Khaled. And then we have the riots.

    There’s too many coincidences for this to all be “coincidental.”

    Consider whose interests are served here.

    Who benefits from the US having a fall-out with the new Egyptian government? Who benefits from sowing dissension in Libya? Who benefits from the American Right all getting their talking points straight today and following the party line that Romney was right to do what he did and attacking Obama for not standing up for American security?

    The Israelis have a long history of using Copts as agents in Egypt, they have a long history of manipulating Christian fundamentalists. Any intelligence operation will go find “fronts” who are isolated individuals who would love to pull off what is offered to themv that they cannot do on their own. Doing this provides “plausible deniability.”

    This action, not an attack on Iran, is Netanyahu’s “fall surprise.” It sits there right in front of us and the Israelis have the US so politically buffaloed that nobody can say a thing about it, even if they find proof.

    • If Israel and its US lackeys are that powerful, they would have come up with something much bigger and more specifically targeted against Iran. We haven’t seen the October Surprise yet.

  42. It is not the video. It has never been the video or the cartoon or whatever that’s supposedly insulting islam. I bet none of the attackers have ever seen the video. They just listened to a pundit, much like the ones on fox tv, exaggerating the content and the intentions on a greater scale, causing a butterfly effect. And repeating the broadcast until a few idiots take up on it.

    • That is very true. The likes of fox tv are abundant :) I first heard about it on an Egyptian show. It made it seem like mega-production planned to be showed on 9/11. When I saw parts of it online, I realized that it’s just a cheap video, not worthy of this propaganda. It is very irresponsible from the media knowing that these kinds of issues stir the anger of people who probably don’t know what a web brower is. They also don’t understand that US law can’t do anything about it, unlike routine censorship that happens in their country.
      Having that said, the content itself is not really “exaggerated”, although its value is. It is extremely offensive in terms of content but it’s done in such a naive and silly way that anyone would realize that it’s obviously a production of pure hate with no real research, history or even good fiction writing behind it. It’s really not even worth being offended by.

      • The production values I’ve seen make it look more like a (cheap) porno than anything else. I mean, just put up some people in fake costumes, put up a tent and then get straight to the hot’n'heavy, cuz who cares about background and plot?

  43. It increasingly looks like the maker of this film used fraud to lure actors into participating in its creation. It apparently was meant to serve a political purpose, but its creators may end up looking like they want al-Qeada to survive rather than fade away. In this sense, it won’t necessarily help whatever their goal was in the long term, given that they appearly utterly unconcerned about what are contributing to; they indeed seem to want problems rather than solutions.

  44. Thank you for the explanation…I can relate, in the US we would say someone ‘has a chip on their shoilder’ meaning they bear a grudge or have a specific goal in mind….some folks make a living trying to always be in the news…Sarah Palin comes to mind when I think of the protesters with hurt feelings…she always wants to be a victim…I appreciate more than I can say the ordinary folks on Libya who went out of their way to reiterate that they do not hate the US…thank you…

  45. TCinLA – aaah the old zionist conspiracy theories. Mr cole, as an Islamic apolgoist will like that. You peole are amazing, i bet if someone over turms your trash bin you blame Mossad!!!!

    • Jon,

      Why don’t you google “Lavon Affair” and find out how Israel got a bad reputation for trying to trick America into blowing up Arabs via false-flag attacks?

      • What’s the point of googling the “Lavon Affair”?

        It was in 1954, which according to my math was nearly 60 years ago. How’s that relevant again?

  46. Quick tangential note (OK, OK… a bit pedantic), but the butterfly effect *is* Newtonian. Non-linear, yes, but completely deterministic and often tractable (unlike, for example, turbulence).

  47. Well just for accuracy. Chaos theory IS classical mechanics. In Q.M. you have too much superimposability (i.e. wave functions) which are necessarily linear, to have decidedly nonlinear amplifications (i.e like stochastic resonance) which require nonlinear dynamical equations. Like e.g.
    m d^2x/dt^2 = dV(x)/dx Newton-Lagrange mechanics, IOW.

  48. Both the anti-Islam “movie” and the current brouhaha (about embassy tweets and Romney’s tone-deaf response) are besides the point: none of that matters in the long run.

    What matters is that there is a power vacuum in much of the mideast, given that the promise of the fledgeling Arab Spring has faded and been replaced by instability and uncertainty.

    All of which means, unfortunately, that the one force that is historically well-organized in the mideast–that of fundamentalist Islam–is exploiting the moment to its advantage.

    This should not be surprising, since so far as I can tell America did very little to actually support the democracy movement of the Arab Spring protesters.

    • I would argue the true discontent in the mideast is not with the United States (and/or Israel), except in the most superficial and predictable way, but rather that the true source of the discontent is with regional unemployment and the lack of change and opportunity in these countries.

      The US is simply a convenient and familiar scapegoat for fundamentalists: i.e. an externalization of very real internal problems.

      Hopefully what remains of the optimistic spirit of the Arab Spring (if not of its fleeting euphoria) will recognize this and people will begin to mobilize against the vision of the fundamentalists (who I have always felt are in truth weaker than they imagine). Islamic Fundamentalism of course has the upper hand for now, since it is organized and has decades of practice, but there is still hope for moderation and democracy in the mideast.

  49. It is now coming out the attack on the consulate was planed, there was a warning two days in advance. It should be safe to say the planning started well before that. the next logical question; was the translation into Arabic of the film just prior to 9/11 part of the plan? And was the production part of the plan? While it’s more likely the producers were an unwitting accomplice I would dearly love to see them make that defense.

  50. HOWARD BASKERVILLE: Juan, I’m sure you will appreciate this. I can’t help but relate Chris Stevens to another young, talented and idealistic American who genuinely wanted to help revolutionaries, in his case, in Iran. Just out of Divinity School, he died for the cause of freedom. The other Americans, many at the US Consulate in Tabriz, were also recognized as openly supportive of the uprising. This memory of Americans living by their values was once a part of Iranian history. Appreciative Iranians at the time had a special carpet made commemorating his role and had it sent to his mother. Do you know if anyone in recalls this now? Chris Stevens may just have revived this alternative image of Americans abroad, albeit in Libya.

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