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chelle21689's avatar

Why are the U.S. embassies getting attacked?

Asked by chelle21689 (5280 points ) September 13th, 2012

I know it has to do with an offensive Youtube video mocking their prophet, but what exactly does that have to do with us just because one guy decided to make a film? The U.S. embassies didn’t make the video.

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40 Answers

JLeslie's avatar

There is a theory that the attack was planned before the video.

Our embassies are attacked every so often. People hate the US. Bombs went off in front of our embassy in Yemen in 2008, but for whatever reason no one counted it. When Obama was running against McCain the Republicans said no attacks had happened against America during that time and the Democrats let them get away with saying it. Now I have Republicans all over facebook saying an attack on our embassy is an attack on America. Well, duh, of course it is. But, not enough drama, no big buildings falling on a city Americans relate to like NYC I guess.

The embassy is an easier target in that it is over there, easier to access than planning an event an ocean away. If the perceived enemy is America, then bombing America and Americans is all a target. An embassy might be placed on their land, right there in their country. Seeing it right there makes it a target, they probably hate the American government on their land. Same reason people have set fire to mosques in America when no one from that particular mosque did anything wrong.

syz's avatar

You have to remember that in many cases, they literally cannot believe that our government is not involved in the production and distribution of the film because in their own country it would be impossible for such a thing to happen without the involvement of government.

If all you know, and all that you have ever known, is one way, then one way is all that you’ll see and believe.

And please keep in mind that this is the action of extremists, not the population at large.

Mama_Cakes's avatar

I am waiting for someone to blame Obama.

Qingu's avatar

“Because of a video” is far too simple of an answer.

There is a small but significant portion of Muslims who devoutly hate America. These people didn’t magically disappear after Osama bin Laden died. It’s important that these attacks are happening on 9/11.

If you want to whip up an angry mob to denounce or attack your enemies, what’s the best way to do that? Find something to be outraged by. It’s been a hugely effective tactic for years. Crusaders did it in the 1200’s with reports that Muslims were raping Christian women, and this outrage mobilized soldiers. We do this all the time in our own modern political culture. Republicans were “outraged” by Obama’s obscure “You didn’t build that” comment, and they organized and coordinated their outrage over this comment into a hefty attack against their political enemies.

To a much more violent extent, I think the same thing is happening in the Islamic world—has been happening for a while (the same applies to the Danish cartoon protests). The outrage here isn’t spontaneous, it’s a form of group mobilization.

In the case of Benghazi, where people were actually killed, it appears that the angry mobs were actually functioning as a smokescreen for a planned attack with small arms and RPG’s.

So it seems like there are two groups of people: savage dumbasses who are letting themselves get whipped up into frenzied mobs, and actual Islamic terrorists who are actually fanning the flames and, in Libya, shooting the RPG’s.

Qingu's avatar

@Mama_Cakes, you must have missed the past few days. On the morning of the attacks, Romney blamed Obama, citing a tweet put out by the Egyptian embassy that supposedly “apologized for America” (but did no such thing, just condemned the inciteful video in question to try to quell the gathering mob… the same as Romney himself later did in a press release).

Our own dear Flutherites @Jaxk and @Cruiser blame Obama, too.

Qingu's avatar

@JLeslie, to nitpick, the building in Libya that was attacked wasn’t even an embassy, it was a consulate. (Embassies are highly guarded buildings in capitols). It was basically a house. Super soft target.

JLeslie's avatar

@Qingu Oh, I thought it was an Embassy. Still counts in my mind. A consulate is basically a branch of the embassy.

Mama_Cakes's avatar

Quigu, I’ve been up to my eyeballs in school work. Missed all of that.

Qingu's avatar

Yah, I was only pointing that out by way of explanation as to how the attack there managed to actually kill some folks.

josie's avatar

There are all sorts of reasons. One of course is they do not like the movie. Another is that the people in question are primitive savages. Another is that they think that anybody who does not take God’s message through the words of The Prophet is worthy of horrible death. That includes you and me and not just an ambassador. Another is that many people in that part of the world realize they are centuries behind just about everybody else, and rather than blame themselves they blame The West.
As much fault as I find in him it is not the president’s fault
But the basic one is that they have calculated that they can get away with it and nobody will do much about it except gripe and make threats.
And truth is, there isn’t much anybody can do about it. The US is out money, so there won’t be any kind of significant military reprisal.
On the other hand, since the US is out of money, this would be a good opportunity to stop sending money we do not have to places in the world that, in in my opinion, are beyond redemption. I have been to a few ugly, violent and unpleasant places on Earth, but nothing was as awful, nor were people generally as hopeless as in the ME.

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chelle21689's avatar

Thanks everyone! I have a better understanding. @JLeslie, if attacks always happened how come the news never talked about it? So what’s happening right now is just a much LARGE scale right?? Scary.

gailcalled's avatar

The embassy in Yemen was attacked and the one in Cairo is being attacked now. The ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, was one of four killed when the consulate there was attacked.

@chelle21689: Do you listen to the news or read a newspaper daily? This was not an isolated incident. As many have said, there is a long an complicated history to explain the extreme anti-American feelings in many parts of the world.

None of us can summarize that history here in several paragraphs.

chelle21689's avatar

I want to add, I do know it’s just extremists..they’re not making the rest of the Muslim population look too good with all these attacks though lol. It’s a shame because it gives Americans even more fear and hate towards Muslims from what I read on the comments on news articles and Facebook!

Qingu's avatar

@josie, Obama did send drones to hunt the people in Benghazi with the help of the Libyan government (Who, by the way, sacrificed their own lives to defend the consulate.)

I usually oppose drones, but I find myself increasingly ambivalent about this. Part of me really wants to see the Islamic Brigade or whoever’s responsible for killing the envoy get blown up by a hellfire missile.

janbb's avatar

@chelle21689 When embassies have been attacked before, it has been highly newsworthy. Of course, the election year posturizing has also ramped up the coverage of these attacks just as we see here on Fluther.

Qingu's avatar

Yeah in 2006 (Danish cartoon controversy) I think the attacks on the embassies were way worse, actually. Lots of people died. Don’t know of any Western envoys dying, though.

During the Iraq War, Americans would occasionally do something stupid like piss on a Quran or use a Quran for target practice; in Afghanistan people accidentally burned Qurans in a dump or something. And there were deadly riots in both places. And the riots were likely egged on and engineered to a some extent by the Taliban or by al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia.

So it’s really nothing new in the grand scheme of things.

josie's avatar

@Qingu
I usually oppose drones, but I find myself increasingly ambivalent about this. Part of me really wants to see the Islamic Brigade or whoever’s responsible for killing the envoy get blown up by a hellfire missile

Ditto all of that.
The drones are a great, cost effective and life saving (to friendlies) way to kill an enemy, but it makes it almost too easy. Thus, since there is no real commitment of the public conscience, it creates a circumstance where the targets can become less and less valuable, until in the extreme, they could be used indiscriminately against anybody, without accountability. Unlikely, but possible. And I don’t like that. If you can’t make a strong public case for killing the enemy, and engage the conscience of the public, then it just might not be the right thing to do.
But I am with you on the Islamic crazies and their potential rendezvous with a Hellfire.

flutherother's avatar

The ‘film’ is pathetic and what little I’ve seen of it deserves to be laughed at. It was cooked up by extremists in the West and shown by extremists in the East in a kind of extremist conspiracy to make us all extremists. I hope they don’t succeed.

JLeslie's avatar

@Qingu This says embassy.. It was in front of the embassy.

@chelle21689 Oh, it is reported in the news. Americans don’t really register it as a big deal I guess. It’s not like it happens every year, but happens enough that it counts, it should all count. Most Americans were shocked we would ever be attack as we were on 9/11, but the truth is there had been terrorist attacks against Amerricans, and our allies, for a long time. Americans (generalizing) couldn’t imagine anyone could and did hate us like that. Don’t get me wrong, the towers coming down is definitely a shocking thing to witness, but it does not shock me that people are trying to kill us or that people can hate you and kill innocent people because their hate consumes them. I’m Jewish, I grew up believing people can hate that way. Just hate you because of where or what you are born.

Anyway, post 9/11 Americans are a little more in tune with these things, and since the Presidential campaign is nearing the end, these last months really count, the political parties are going to grab onto stories like this. Especially the Republicans think Obama is weak on Israel, and think Muslims are all crazy and violent (again I am generalizing) so the story works well to fire up their base.

rojo's avatar

@flutherother I read your answer and thought of @chelle21689 ‘s answer ”....I do know it’s just extremists..they’re not making the rest of the Muslim population look too good with all these attacks though lol. It’s a shame because it gives Americans even more fear and hate towards Muslims from what I read on the comments on news articles and Facebook!” and thought that if you transposed the words “Muslim” and “American” the statement would still make sense.

Qingu's avatar

@JLeslie I thought you were talking about Benghazi, not Sana. Benghazi is where the diplomats were killed. I don’t think any of our people have been killed in Yemen yet, right?

JLeslie's avatar

I found this article with a list of US embassies that have been attacked.

@Qingu I think there was only one woman who was from NYC, and I am not sure of her citizenship, the rest were not our people. I should probably read the wikipedia before I answer. But, does it matter if people died or not?

gailcalled's avatar

@JLeslie: Consulate in Libya (where the four Americans were killed) and embassies in Yemen and Cairo have been beset by assasilants.

“I should probably read the wikipedia before I answer ” Not a bad idea to marshall your facts before writing.

JLeslie's avatar

@gailcalled I provided the link and I said I was not sure, which means beware I am not sure, I am not stating it as fact. Stop it. I have not purposely stated any falsefoods, everything has been said with good intentions and a reasonable amount of knowledge. The OP asked about attacks not deaths.

tranquilsea's avatar

It is super useful to study western influences in that region over the the last couple of hundred years. Hatred usually doesn’t spring from out of the blue.

_Whitetigress's avatar

Because there are extremists there with their own separate beliefs. Believe it or not, some people don’t want the presence of the United States in their country. It’s that simple. So some, resort to pure violence.

YARNLADY's avatar

The economics and government policy in other countries makes it easy for extremists to turn people against the U.S. Everyone in the world can see what a wonderful lifestyle we have, rich beyond their wildest dreams. People might start thinking “If only our government was more like theirs, we could have the same standard of living”. To prevent that kind of thinking, activists stir up the belief that Americans are to blame for their bleak lives. They use every stupid act by an American to prove it.

Qingu's avatar

@YARNLADY, sort of related, I read an article about how this might be a power struggle between Islamic groups in the Arab Spring countries. The jihadist, al-Qaeda style groups got sidelined by more moderate and politically-active groups, so now the jihadists are trying to make a power play. In Libya it’s even more stark, since a lot of the Libyans apparently like America (since we helped kill their evil dictator) which puts the jihadists there in an awkward position.

WestRiverrat's avatar

Because we are perceived as the only superpower in the world, Great Britain had the same problem when they were the dominant Country as did Rome. As will the next one to come along and take a dominant roll in the world.

When there were two superpowers the smaller countries could play them against each other. Now they have to think of other ways to build their desired reputations.

Crashsequence2012's avatar

Immature envy of our way of life. Full stop.

dabbler's avatar

The stupid movie was apparently the brain fart of an Egyptian hyper-Christian living in Los Angeles. If anything, the rioting should be outside that bastard’s home address, at least for making such a pathetic bit of drivel.

Nullo's avatar

Because they’re a heck of a lot closer than the United States, while nevertheless representing it abroad. It’s rather like when the supervillain goes after the superhero’s family – they’re easier targets that still have impact.

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chelle21689's avatar

So now it has spread to Indonesia and Sudan…the protests.

What the heck do they want us to do about it??

Qingu's avatar

Supposedly they want us to prosecute the people who made the offensive film.

I doubt anyone actually thinks this will happen or could happen. It’s just a pretext to riot against America, what they see as an evil anti-Islamic hegemon. It’s also probably an attempt by the most religious extremist Muslims to assert themselves publicly. It’s happened before and it will happen again.

If the diplomats in Libya hadn’t been murdered by a coordinated terrorist attack, these protests would not be nearly that big of a deal on the news.

dabbler's avatar

Show them that free speech here pokes everyone in the eye at one time or another.

Send thousands of DVDs of “The Book of Mormon” (the Broadway Show) to all major Muslim populations. As an example of what people say in the U.S. about other religions.

Get them copies of “Jesus Christ, Superstar”.

Point out to them that in the U.S. religious freedom of expression can grant your right to wear a colander on your head on your driver’s license photo.

dabbler's avatar

p.s. I know the colander man is in Austria, but it is a good example of religious tolerance.

Qingu's avatar

@dabbler, I don’t think that will work. A lot of the people protesting and rioting are the Islamic equivalent of the Fred Phelps cult. Except on top of being full-on cultists they’re also often illiterate.

I hate to echo something that George Bush has said, but the people who are rioting really do hate our freedom. To them, “freedom of speech” is a kufr (unbeliever) idea that has no basis whatsoever in the political system handed down by God in the Quran.

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