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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Amazing quote from US diplomat: "They got the wrong guy"

Barry Rubin notices something truly perverse in a Haaretz article (now behind the paywall):
I have a lot of friends in the Foreign Service, now and retired, and I was very upset about the deaths of five American diplomats and two American soldiers in Libya. I know this person was a colleague, too. But my goodness, how horrifyingly revealing is this quote:

“They got the wrong guy,” said a friend of the slain Ambassador Christopher Stevens at the [notoriously anti-Israel, BR] U.S. consulate in Jerusalem, “If there was someone who cared about the Arab and Muslim world, it was Chris,” who had previously served there as chief of the political section. “He spoke Arabic, he was dedicated to the cause of the Arabs.”

Perhaps this diplomat should give al-Qaida a list of approved Americans they should be assassinating. In other words, what? It would have been better to have killed a Foreign Service officer more friendly to Israel? To have murdered some Republicans or Jews? I’m afraid that this is very frankly how these people think. And what is “the cause of the Arabs?” Which Arabs? To wipe Israel off the map? To have radical nationalist dictatorships? To have Sharia states? At least define your “Arabs” as the genuine moderates, genuine democrats, genuine liberals or even–since there aren’t so many of those people–those who feel their self-interests basically coincide with those of the United States.

I find this person’s statement even more shocking than the apology over the mysterious little you-tube film. And yes I have heard this before in private.

OK, an anecdote. I’m sitting with about a dozen U.S. military officers doing a briefing a couple of years after September 11 and my co-briefer–a medium-high State Department official in the Middle East section–starts visibly panicking as he’s speaking. “Other issues might threaten you,” he tells them looking really scared, “but only the Israel issue can endanger your life.” I can only report that the looks of contempt on the face of the officers made me proud of the U.S. army.

Note: I don’t mean this as a criticism of all Foreign Service Officers. There are many good ones. But this Jerusalem-based diplomat’s reaction to the death of Ambassador Stevens, plus four diplomats and now two U.S. soldiers rescuing the rest of the embassy staff is all too revealing. Perhaps he’s just too confused about what country’s capital he’s in.