Barricades of tires burn during a violent protest by hundreds of Afghans in Kabul, Afghanistan, against an American film mocking the Prophet Mohammed. | Massoud Hossaini~AFP/Getty Images
Updated: October 19, 2012 6:10AM
Democrats should be worried that their national convention’s breast-beating over the killing of Osama bin Laden may go down in history as President Barack Obama’s “mission accomplished” moment. The administration isn’t helping matters by insisting time and again that the violence sweeping through Muslim countries is about an obscure Internet video and nothing else.
In 2003, President George W. Bush’s aircraft carrier celebration of the “shock and awe” invasion of Iraq came to represent a rosy view discredited as the war descended into chaos.
Now the Democratic convention’s reveling in the 9/11 terrorist’s death — “Ask Osama bin Laden if he is better off now than he was four years ago” — has been rebuked by undeniable evidence that the struggle against Islamist fanaticism is far from over as anti-American rioters chant “Obama, Obama there are still a billion Osamas.”
The murders of four Americans, the sacking of a U.S. school in Tunis and assaults on U.S. embassies in one Muslim capital after another are evidence of deep-rooted anti-Americanism, hatred of Western values, perceptions of U.S. weakness and the failure of Obama’s outreach to the Islamic world. That 14-minute video about Mohammed was only a pretext that Islamist fanatics seized to translate into Arabic and inflame mobs in an “Arab street” ever ready to blame America for anything and everything.
U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice took to the Sunday morning talk shows to push the line that a it all has been a spontaneous reaction to the anti-Islam video. As Sen. John McCain pointed out, rocket-propelled grenades, heavy weapons, coordinated assaults and murder aren’t the stuff of spur-of-the-moment protests. As for the timing of the Benghazi terror attack — the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 atrocity — Rice would have us believe it’s a coincidence.
This is the best the Obama team can do in an election season for a couple of reasons.
First, Obama’s campaign, despite promises after the bin Laden slaying not “to spike the football,” has politicized what should have remained a unifying national accomplishment. Vice President Joe Biden gloats about it regularly on the campaign trail — or at least he did before the rioting. Bill Clinton made a TV commercial lauding Obama for taking a political risk in killing bin Laden — infuriating military personnel and their families who saw the ad demeaning the actual risk of death, injury or capture taken by the SEAL team that took down the terrorist.
Second, the anti-American venom spewed in the Arab street discredits claims that Obama’s history, oratory and outreach changed the world. In typically grandiose language, Obama proclaimed in 2007, “I truly believe that the day I’m inaugurated . . . the whole world looks at America differently.” His famous 2009 Cairo speech trumpeted “a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world.”
Yet his outreach was flawed from the beginning. He bowed to the king of Saudi Arabia and extended an open hand to the mad mullahs of Iran but stood of the sidelines as Iran brutally suppressed a popular uprising and as the world watched via YouTube a young woman named Neda bleed to death in the streets of Tehran. Favorable attitudes in Muslim nations toward America have dropped 10 percentage points since 2009, according to the Pew Research Center.
All the chants of “bin Laden is dead” can’t hide that there’s no mission accomplished for Obama’s appeasement policies.