"How could this happen?" asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in response to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three others.
The rioting by Muslims supposedly "inflamed" by a cheaply produced YouTube film about the Prophet Muhammad was cited as the reason, but we have learned the attacks may have been planned in advance, some to coincide with the anniversary of Sept. 11. What doesn't Secretary Clinton get? The actions and statements of Islamic extremists have been visible for some time.
In his latest obsequious gesture to the Islamic world, President Obama wants to offer $1 billion in "debt relief" to the Muslim Brotherhood leadership in Egypt. The president apparently hopes Egypt's leadership can be bought off and will then start behaving like us. The president appears to ignore Egypt's crackdown on political opposition, its sending tanks into the Sinai, in violation of its 33-year peace treaty with Israel, and the persecution of Coptic Christians who are fleeing the country in droves. This is what America got in Iran, Egypt and now Libya when we helped topple dictators who were then replaced by radicals.
That these and many other provocations against America, Israel and the rest of the West bring no credible response from the United States encourages and enables extremists to ramp up their violent behavior. "Paper tiger" is the term Mao Zedong used to describe "American imperialism" in 1956. "Spineless amoeba" might characterize this administration's response to outrages performed in the name of Islam.
Just as the amateurish video was not the cause of the violent attacks, neither was Mitt Romney's critique of them. The Obama administration's foreign policy has failed dramatically. A recent Wall Street Journal headline had it right: "U.S. Policy in Mideast Challenged by Assaults."
Coddling, understanding, bowing and submitting to extremists only leads to more violence. History has shown and common sense tells us they only respect and fear power and consistency.
What is the flipside of "peace through strength"? It is war through weakness.
Iran's nuclear bomb preparations? This administration's response is more sanctions and more diplomacy, though these have failed. Kill our people? Send them more money.
This is what we get when the administration denies statements from the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamic leaders about their hatred for America, Jews, Christians and women's equality. Do we not think they mean what they say? If not, on what basis do our leaders disbelieve them?
Tyrants enjoy telling the world about their intentions. It is how they recruit followers. Think Hitler, Marx, Lenin and Mao. Tyrants aren't the real danger, though they are to their own people. The real danger is when the West fails to recognize evil and develop an effective response to it. Asking Israel to continue to "wait" while Iran builds a nuclear bomb is madness, especially when Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has described Israel as a "disgraceful blot," has said it should be "wiped off the face of the earth." Islamic extremists say what they mean and mean what they say. So why don't we believe them?
Whether the Islamists are a small minority within "peaceful" Islam is irrelevant. If the bad guys are pursuing nuclear weapons and their minions are killing our ambassadors and citizens, what is there to discuss? What can diplomats do?
How could this happen, Secretary Clinton? You have only to look at the one you correctly described four years ago as "inexperienced" and not ready to be president. If you continue in denial, deny this: "And prepare against them whatever you are able of power and of steeds of war by which you may terrify the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them whom you do not know (but) whom Allah knows. And whatever you spend in the cause of Allah will be fully repaid to you, and you will not be wronged." (Quran 8:60, Sahih International)
(Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist and panelist on Fox News Watch.)