This country must demand nothing less than the serious punishment of those who storm our embassies and kill our diplomats.
The recent attacks on U.S. diplomatic missions in the Middle East and the murder of four U.S. diplomats mark another abomination in an area of the world where such outrages are all too common.
Americans can only hope that President Obama's promise that "justice will be done" comes to fruition. But in the meantime, we are reminded once again of the danger posed by Islamic extremists who use murder and violence on the weakest of pretexts to achieve their political goals.
Described as incensed over a film that ridicules the Prophet Muhammad, a mob stormed and vandalized the U.S. embassy in Cairo. That quickly was followed by an attack by another mob at the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya. Although details are incomplete as to what specifically happened, four Americans, including Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens, were killed by the mob, some members of which reportedly were armed with sophisticated weapons like rocket-propelled grenades.
These attacks ought to finally put to rest any starry-eyed references to the so-called Arab Spring that was to give rise to blooming democracies in former authoritarian states of the Middle East. Muslim extremists are now running the government in Egypt, the protesters there having replaced a ruthless dictator, Hosni Mubarak, with even more ruthless rulers.
In Libya, the situation is less clear. However, it's hard to imagine that attacks on diplomatic missions could take place without at least the tactic approval of the government.
This is both a political and personal tragedy.
Circumstances have to be gut-wrenching for the friends, families and co-workers of the Americans who were killed.
On a political level, huge questions must be addressed, particularly the extent to which governments in these countries are willing to respect the protections afforded diplomatic missions. Countries cannot deal with each other unless they can talk to each other, and that means that diplomatic immunity — the notion that diplomatic grounds are inviolable — must be respected.
Of course, America has been through this before, more than 30 years ago when Iranian militants stormed the U.S. embassy in Tehran, took Americans hostage and held them for more than 400 days. That was an outrage, just as the recent attacks are an outrageous violation of international law. All Americans should stand with President Obama in insisting that the guilty be punished, and watch carefully to see that they are.