Warning: this is not a tax post. As I sometimes do, I comment here on current affairs that will indirectly impinge on tax law and policies but are not directly related to my ordinary topic.
The assassination of our representative in Libya and several other officials was a tragedy that demonstrates the irrationality of religious fervor on both sides. Apparently some right- wing Christian fundamentalists created a hate-mongering film about the Islamic religion. Just as Christians resent attacks on their religion, Muslims resent attacks on theirs. The film, when it became widely noticed, stirred anger and resentment against the US for harboring groups that spew such hate. Such anger is understandable, even though we cannot condone it or the violence that grows out of it. Our embassy in Libya rightly condemned the hatemongering, noting that America is a country that tries to practice tolerance of many religious views without condoning violence towards any. That was the appropriate response, because it acknowledged the fundamental free-speech right recognized in the United States, which allows people to say stupid and even hateful things about other people and other people's religion, but it nonetheless condemned those stupid and hateful things as stupid and hateful and damaging to the respect that is necessary to a peaceful world.
Regretably, the response in parts of the Arab world to the hatemongering film escalated to violence, and American representatives suffered the brunt of those attacks. We lost public servants who have made a substantial contribution to building better societies.
But Romney's response only adds to the problem. With his hastily released statement condemning the President for "apologizing" to terrorists (a lie), he turned a national tragedy into a political moment, making a statement that wrongly described the embassy's statement as a response to the violence The embassy's statement of tolerance is the epitome of what America is all about. Romney hoped to jumpstart his (nonexistent) foreign policy credentials by criticising his opponent, claiming that the President had issued an apology and implying that Americans should never apologize.
Romney's response demonstrates his incapacity for leadership. His only thought was how to advance his own personal agenda, not how to help the nation. He didn't mind mixing fact and fantasy in his claims (the embassy statement was before, not after, the violence, and was a reasonable statement of America's views on freedom of speech and religion). Obama didn't apologize. Further, as other writers have noted, there is nothing inately wrong with apologies when they are in order--it would be quite reasonable for an American to say to a Muslim from Libya that they apologize for the ignorance and hatefulness of the right-wing extremists that are fomenting anti-Islamic sentiment in the United States right now.
Romney revealed himself, yet again, as an opportunist who speaks before he gets his facts straight. (or, as Obama put it, shoots before taking aim). He also revealed how ill-equipped he is to deal with the delicate situation in the Middle East, where the outcome of the clash between the desire for democratic rights and the desire for fundamentalist religious hegemony remains undetermined. Romney is clearly cut from the same cloth as the militarist George W. Bush, who thought he could huff and puff and show the military stuff of the United States and accomplish war with no bloodshed, victory with no taste of agony. Bush was wrong, and so is Romney.
Romney also showed that the military-industrial complex is at work again, building a drumbeat for more money, more appropriations, more military goodies, more war--no matter the cost to domestic livelihoods. We do not need to go to war against Iran, but it is seems that the religio-military-plutocratic complex is trying to make such a war inevitable and that Romney is a willing pawn in that endeavor.
The Iraq and Afghanistan wars are a significant cause of our incredible debt burden, not to mention of the maiming of thousands of young Americans. We will ultimately have to increase taxes--such as by letting the ill-advised Bush tax cuts expire-- to cover the long-term fallout of those wars. If we were to take on another long-term and unwinnable war with Iran, the cost--in lives and in the blow to our economy--would be enormous. Let us hope that foolish minds like Romney's don't force us into an untenable position.