These are dangerous times, potentially as dangerous as any the world has ever seen. While the flames of Islamic protests against America engulf the Middle East, Chinese rioters are attacking Japanese embassies, Syria is wracked by a civil war and North and South Korea are poised for military conflict. Meanwhile, al Qaida is not just plotting more attacks against American interests but also doing everything it can to stir up more hostility against the United States throughout the Muslim world.
In this global cauldron, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to provoke an American face-off with Iran.
I see a very real danger of World War III here. An attack on Iran could draw Russia into a conflict with America, and especially with its current populist rage against Japan (over a territorial dispute), China might become involved.
Yet Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has chosen this time to send the world a message of American disunity. And belligerence.
According to Romney, President Obama is to blame for the Muslim attacks because he has not shown “resolve.” Romney argues that if he were president, those Islamic extremists wouldn’t dare attack an American embassy because he would have them cowering in fear. He chides the president for being soft on the Arab world, identifies Russia as America’s worst enemy and threatens to teach China a lesson for its fair-trade violations.
To call Mitt Romney a fool is to be too kind.
He is a menace.
And Netanyahu is impertinent to insert himself into America’s presidential election campaign. Anyone who follows politics knows the reason for Netanyahu’s timing; he wants Romney to win. He wants the kind of cowboy diplomacy that Romney would reintroduce, the kind that got America into a misguided war with Iraq.
In America, Romney’s posturing is music to the ears of religious zealots who are eager to bring on the Apocalypse.
It is this subculture that originated the film that sparked the latest Islamic outrage against America.
According to news reports, a 55-year-old Coptic Christian named Nakoula Basseley Nakoula was financed in making “Innocence of Muslims” by Courageous Christians United, a California group that stages protests outside mosques and abortion clinics. And the permit for the film was issued to Media for Christ, a California-based nonprofit group created to “glow Jesus’ light” to the world. The infamous pastor, Terry Jones of Gainesville, Florida, who burned Qurans on the ninth anniversary of the World Trade Center attacks, is also involved; he reportedly discussed promoting the movie.
In 2010, Nakoula pleaded no contest to federal bank fraud charges and was sentenced to 21 months in prison. He was recently released on probation. He was also convicted of making meth, according to news reports. Some commentators on the web suspect that Nakoula, who apparently has no other film making credits, may be fronting for political activists associated with the Republican Party.
Whoever actually made the film, it is clear evidence that extremists in America would like to provoke armed conflict with the Muslim world.
President Obama is acutely aware of the inflamed emotions at home and abroad. He is intelligent enough to see the inherent dangers represented by conflicting interests and the possible consequences of any impetuous action by the United States. He is carefully pursuing a path of prudence in a world blinded by emotion.
The last thing he needs is a blowhard like Romney trumpeting incendiary nonsense from the sidelines.