In Congress Thursday, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) discussed foreign aid to trouble spots Libya, Egypt, and Pakistan in light of the past week’s events. Far from suggesting that Americans should be in some kind of defensive crouch about their free speech rights, Rubio said, “We have the right to be angry. The American people are angry, and rightfully so,” because our reward for billions in foreign aid – and our efforts to end the Qaddafi regime in Libya – is the spectacle of watching our murdered and abused Ambassador dragged through the streets by a mob, and our flag burned by angry demonstrators.
Rubio went on to outline a “smart foreign policy” for the region, which would recognize the differences between these countries. He was unwilling to cut Egypt any slack for its failure to protect the American embassy, since it obviously has the resources to conduct effective counter-terrorism and security operations. He also laid out some high expectations for the leadership of Middle Eastern nations, noting that many of them were educated in the West, and know perfectly well how things work in America. He contrasted this with the chaotic situation in Libya, where the government – which he credited with generally “trying to do the right thing” – does not exercise full control over its own territory.
Rubio made an interesting call for the American media to pay a bit more attention to Libyans marching in the streets to protest the terrorists, rather than mobs yelling about a YouTube video. He spoke at length about the relationship between extremist elements and dictators in some Arab nations, where “the only things you’re allowed to protest are Israel and America, so that’s what everyone does.” And he noted that expecting democratic elections to serve as a magic elixir for swiftly changing the culture in these troubled areas is naive.