News / USA

Film Protests Show New Challenges for US in Middle East

Kent Klein
The killing of the U.S. ambassador to Libya and the protests at U.S. facilities in numerous Islamic countries are prompting questions about how the United States can protect against future attacks.
The release of a video that many consider insulting to Islam has sent thousands of people to the streets to protest in countries such as Yemen and Sudan.  Some protests became violent attacks on Western embassies...... including the assault on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya, that left Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other American embassy staff dead.
Amid the turmoil, U.S. officials and foreign policy experts have struggled to find ways Washington can best work with Middle Eastern countries that are working to establish democracies.
Many say the overthrow of authoritarian governments in the Middle East will present new challenges for the United States that will continue for years.

“If you think this week was difficult, expect more of this for the rest of this decade,” saud  Brian Katulis, a senior fellow with the Center for American Progress.
Foreign policy experts say one challenge for U.S. officials is to hold to a consistent message.
Hisham Melhem, the Washington bureau chief for the Al-Arabiya News Channel says the administration should emphasize the criminal nature of the attacks on U.S. diplomats, and avoid being forced to defend religious freedom.
“Every time an idiot in the United States uses his camera, or tells me he wants to burn a copy of the Quran, that this becomes an international issue that forces the president of the United States, the secretary of state of the United States, to give you a lecture about Islam, or to give you a lecture about religion, and to give you a lecture about the American political system and how much it tolerates religion," Melhem said.
Katulis says the U.S. should reject calls to withdraw from the Middle East or cut aid because of the protests.
He says Washington has the unique ability to help Middle Eastern countries build their democracies.
“It is essential that the U.S. is the undisputed leader in the region.  Nobody has the will or the capability to do what we can do in the Gulf region.  China is not going to do it.  Russia certainly is not going to do it,” he said.
Katulis advocates investing more heavily in what he calls smart power -- building U.S. power and influence in the Middle East by understanding its politics, economy and social dynamics .just as Christopher Stevens did as ambassador to Libya.

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Comment Sorting
by: Mice from: cXhsWqosBhg
September 27, 2012 10:24 AM
Times are cnhangig for the better if I can get this online!

by: Irwin Busk from: In The Mountains
September 15, 2012 8:31 PM
Wrong. The consistent message NEEDS to be that Americans have the right to free speech. If a citizen disparages the Quran, that is his or her right. The correct response to violence towards our embassies is to CUT OFF the aid dollars.

by: Mina from: USA
September 15, 2012 8:28 PM
Alexandria, sorry for you, but in America we treasure freedom of expression to the point that we have movies, music and art that are quite tasteles. Besides, who is going to determine what is provocative, or tasteless, or blasphemous? Laws have to be applied across the board. That means that few movies or music would be able to be produced because someone or some group might feel that their feelings or sensitivities had been offended. Besides, this movie that you speak about is just an excuse to spew the hate and violence against the USA. That 15 minute film had been in you tube for a while. And yet, when Sept. 11 rolled around is when these violent muslims took action?? no, it wasn't the movie. The USA has to get away from the middle east, and let them settle their own problems. We need to stop helping and giving aid. No more money, schools or any type of help for that area. Enough is enough. We'll take our dead and money - and that area can live as they want, violence included.
In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
September 17, 2012 7:04 AM
I almost agreed totally with you Mina from: USA. The aid spent in that area is alarming and achieves little, just hate and more hate. But USA cannot pull out of the entire region. That would mean to leave Israel without a neighbor. The Middle East peace process has achieved nothing and is doomed. Solution is USA should forget whatever it's doing with the Arab and Muslim countries out there, build strong military network around Israel and pay those other people according to their sentiment to USA. Nothing else seems ideal in the moribund relationship with the muslim world

by: DRP from: Alexandria
September 15, 2012 4:44 AM
'The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states that "any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law".' The U.S. is a leader in what is now our global community. As such, U.S. toleration of such anti Muslim activity under the guise of freedom of speech sends the wrong message to the “Bullies” involved in such hate crimes and hate industries as well as the “Victims” and other members of our global community. Our American government leadership has an obligation to the American people and our global society to prosecute the “writer“, his financial supporters, and the media responsible to the full extent of our existing U.S. laws and support if not enforce the ICCPR prohibitions.

In our world of mass if not instant communication it is understandable that our freedom of speech values could be “lost in translation” or misconstrued as American Foreign policy to Muslim people particularly those extremists looking for opportunities to perpetuate Anti American Sentiment and violence. Our President can meet the current challenges in the U.S. and global community by issuing proactive directives. As our leader President Obama must initiate the changes necessary to set precendent by holding the "writer" and his supporters accountable for the results of their advocacy of the hatred that undermines our creditability as a world leader and perpetuates a vicious cycle of violence. It is important that the American value of "Justice For All" is not ignored in our pursuit of justice for the American victims of extremist Muslim violence.
In Response

by: Godwin from: Nigeria
September 17, 2012 7:27 AM
Is it only when issues of the muslim violence erupts that America becomes wary of legislations that affect human life? We believe that sanity resides in sane heads and so we accept that people should practice what seems right to them within the framework of established and existing laws, however bad or good they maybe construed. The 14minute film comes into this range. In that light the muslim protests, especially coinciding with the anniversary of 9/11, is a show of vested hatred for USA and support for bin Laden which should have taught America to reexamine and reappraise its relations with those countries.

For if we talk about laws and norms that should be addressed, a lot of it will go because of the rights and privileges and psyches regularly abused in the practice of rights and freedoms prevalent in the American system. A lot of restrictions will apply thereafter. America should use this opportunity to choose who to retain as friends and who it is time enough to jettison.

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