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Grieve without violent vengeance

BY DI EDITORIAL BOARD | SEPTEMBER 13, 2012 6:30 AM

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On Wednesday, Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said that in response to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya, which killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans, it should be condemned in “the strongest possible terms.”

“All possible resources must be brought to bear to bring the perpetrators to justice,” said the Iowa senator. “International law has been violated, and you’ve got to stand behind rule of the law.”

The senator also offered his condolences to the victims and their families. Along with the senator, we express our regret for this tragedy. We know that this is an act of terror; however, it is best not to take rash, violent actions in response but to have faith in leaders who want to exhaust all diplomatic actions.

This type of violence now affects our generation in a way it never has before. University students are now at the age where our brothers and sisters, our close friends, and even some of us may join the military, and we can both listen to and influence the words of our representatives. Those who are now students may be too young to appreciate the awesome impact the terrorist attacks of 9/11 created.

But today, we must take on the responsibility as influential citizens of the United States to make careful decisions that ensure the best outcome for our nation and ourselves.

On Tuesday, protesters in Libya surrounded the U.S. consulate and in Egypt surrounded the U.S. Embassy demonstrating their opposition to a YouTube film trailer produced by a California man that depicted the prophet Muhammad as a pedophile and a womanizer, as reported by the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times.

The protesters and people around the world were outraged by the depiction of Muhammad and the general disrespect for many aspects of the Islamic religion. In Egypt, the protesters stormed the Embassy and tore down the American flag before state officials were able to tame the crowd.

In Libya, the protests ended when the consulate was hit by a rocket-propelled grenades, and the U.S. ambassador to Libya as well as three other U.S. officials died.

Through this process of national grieving, it should be kept in mind attacks on American diplomats abroad are relatively rare; the U.S. ambassador killed in the line of duty was Adolph Dubs, who died in 1979 after being kidnapped from wounds suffered in a gun battle in a hotel room in Kabul, Afghanistan, as reported by the Washington Post.

Attacks on American embassies, however, are more frequent.

Since 2006, there have been five attacks on American embassies: one each in Yemen, Turkey, Syria, Pakistan, and Greece — but no American diplomats were killed in these attacks, as reported by the International Business Times.

That is not to say that Tuesday night’s attacks were without precedent.

In August 1998, Qaeda members bombed American embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, killing 12 American diplomats and more than 200 Tanzanians and Kenyans, as reported by the Public Broadcasting Service. The Clinton administration responded to the attacks with an aggressive set of cruise-missile strikes intended to destroy reported Qaeda targets in Afghanistan and Sudan.

The strike in Sudan, which turned out to be based on hastily compiled intelligence, destroyed a pharmaceutical factory in Khartoum and provided a regional rallying point for Al Qaeda, as reported by The Guardian.

To this point, the Obama administration has taken a commendably measured stance toward the killings in Libya, pledging to work with the government in Tripoli to bring the perpetrators to justice and apparently playing down the need for aggressive military action.

“This was an attack by a small and savage group, not the people or government of Libya,” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a statement released Wednesday morning.

From what we all know now, Rodham Clinton is correct in her assessment that Tuesday’s attacks were carried out by an isolated band of rebels. While this does not ameliorate our collective feeling of loss, it should not compel us to push for further violence and revenge.

Four Americans died Wednesday from the rash acts of a few in Libya. We must not sacrifice more American lives in seeking revenge. Instead we must seek a higher truth for the sake of a better people.


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