Elliott Abrams, writing at National Review Online:
First: As the Washington Post reported, “A group of protesters scaled the wall of the U.S. Embassy in Cairo on Tuesday evening and entered its outer grounds, pulled down an American flag, then tried to burn it outside the embassy walls, according to witnesses.” My own sources suggest that attackers were in the embassy grounds for hours before they were finally expelled.
It is fair to ask why police protection was not provided until it was too late. Protection of foreign embassies is an elementary responsibility of governments, and one we should insist that Mr. Morsi’s new Muslim Brotherhood government fulfill. The U.S. government should demand an apology, and demand that such a failure never be repeated.
Where is Egypt’s new president, Mohammed Morsi? Why has he not gone on Egyptian TV to express outrage? Coming from a Muslim Brotherhood leader that would be significant; its absence is even more significant. On the occasion of Mr. Obama’s forthcoming meeting with Morsi at the United Nations, this should be on top of the agenda — and the American complaint and Egyptian apology and pledge to do better should be exchanged, publicly, on camera. We give Egypt over a billion dollars a year in military aid. Members of Congress may wish to direct that aid, henceforth, to elements of the Egyptian police and military that are supposed to protect embassies. Or to suspend it until we learn how the Egyptian security services plan to protect our missions there.
Second: The protest had been announced in advance and was related to an apparently offensive film created somewhere in the United States. What did the State Department say to our embassies around the world, and particularly in the Islamic world, about risks and protective steps? Were all “Emergency Action Committees” told to convene? Were embassies told to request additional local police protection? Did State learn the lessons of the Danish cartoon crisis, or did it fall down on the job?
Third: By choosing to attack the U.S. embassy on the anniversary of 9/11, the Egyptian protesters were expressing their support not for the victims but for the perpetrators of that act of terror and mass murder. In Benghazi our ambassador and several others were murdered on 9/11. I have yet to see a wave of condemnation from Islamic religious leaders, and this is needed. Condemnations from Washington will have no impact on rioters and potential rioters, while condemnations from their own religious leaders might. The issue is a simple one: Is the taking of life an appropriate response to hurt feelings?
Whole thing here.