The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Editorials

August 11, 2013

Embassy closings raise questions

WHY IT MATTERS: It's not a matter of showing weakness in strength but weakness in our allies to help protect our diplomatic missions

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Last week, the Lebanon Daily Star reported that the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon was accelerating its security measures because of the deteriorating situation there. Reportedly an American security team was arriving to boost protection for the embassy and the diplomats working there.

And that’s the key. Do we have enough forces and joint cooperation regionally to adequately protect our diplomatic missions abroad?

It is significant to note that the U.S. closed its embassies in Rwanda and Burundi known for its civil unrest as well as Madagascar and Mauritius which haven’t really been a security concern. However, the local power to assist in helping prevent any attacks or provide security has been weak.

And Benghazi has shown we have inadequate American security forces available ourselves to protect against a large-scale attack.

That doesn’t mean bring in more U.S. Marines. The primary mission of the Marine Corps Embassy Security Group (MSG) is to “to prevent the compromise of classified material vital to the national security of the United States.” The state department makes it clear that the primary protection of the embassy is the job of the host government. The State Department will often bolster this protection by hiring residents of the country as private guards.

America has become increasingly unpopular throughout many regions including those where we once were considered allies.

The most recent example of that is in Egypt where the U.S. is criticized equally by the Muslim Brotherhood and its backers and the supporters of the new military regime who believe the U.S. actively supported the Morsi government.

If you can’t count on a stable and predictable protective force from the host government or the willingness of nationals to lay down their lives for U.S. personnel, the U.S. government has no choice but to err on the side of caution in the face of pending threats.

And this caution is indicative of our foreign policy missteps to date. So maybe there is good reason to be afraid until we can win back our allies regarding our mission.

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