Monday, October 1, 2012

Wheels coming off?

A loud chorus of conservative pundits and politicians declare that the murder of four diplomatic staff in Libya means the "wheels are coming off" Obama's foreign policy, or that it's "unraveling" as Paul Ryan called it.  Each one of those four deaths is a terrible tragedy, and the incident will hopefully provoke changes in how we defend our embassies.

Given recent history, however, it seems a stretch to suggest that this is some sort of hugely significant landmark event that should change how America views Obama's foreign policy.  In the last 11 years, over 6,000 American soldiers have died in Afghanistan and Iraq.  2,977 Americans were killed on 9/11.  I understand that the Romney campaign is searching for a game-changing moment, but the attacks in Benghazi, though horrible, are not that moment.

This is by no means to suggest that Obama's foreign policy is without flaw.  It would be healthy for us to discuss the 2,000th American death in Afghanistan, or our use of drones, or Obama's policy of labeling any young man killed in a strike zone a "militant".  The Republican Party isn't presenting an alternative on those issues, however, so we don't get to have that discussion.

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