Mitt Romney got the capital of Libya wrong in his opportunistic statement this morning criticizing the President about his handling of the attacks against the US embassy in Cairo and the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
Romney referred in his statement to the “embassies” and particularly to “our embassy at Benghazi, Libya.” He made the mistake three times, so it wasn’t just a slip of the lip.
Any first year international relations student knows that our diplomatic offices in the capital are “embassies,” and our offices in cities that are not the capital are “consulates.”
This means that Romney either had no idea what the capital of Libya was when he said it was Benghazi (it’s Tripoli, obviously), or he had no idea what the difference was between “embassies” and “consulates,” which is so basic Diplomacy 101 that it’s frightening that Mitt Romney wants to be commander in chief in four months and had no idea about the difference.
I did my graduate studies international public policy at Georgetown. This is no small matter. Or rather, it’s such a small matter, such an obvious point, that it’s frightening Romney had no idea that he was making the error.
It’s a rookie mistake to confuse embassies and consulates, and it’s the kind of thing that anyone with any training in diplomacy and international relaOtions would immediately look out for, and notice. Romney should have seen this speech and immediately said “Libya’s capital is Tripoli, and our embassy isn’t in Benghazi.” But he didn’t. Because Mitt Romney simply has no background in foreign policy. But that didn’t stop him from weighing in immediately on a major national security crisis, with the presidential backdrop and all.
Let’s hope a future “President Romney,” God forbid, does a fact-check before he starts bombing the wrong city.
Here is the video, and below is the transcript (note Romney get it wrong at 0:17, 0:55, 1:22).
Here is Mitt Romney’s statement, the transcript is from his campaign itself, I got it by email:
From: Romney Press Shop mailto:[email protected]
Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 10:25 AM
Subject: ROMNEY: AMERICAN LEADERSHIP IS STILL SORELY NEEDED
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: Romney Press Office
September 12, 2012
ROMNEY: AMERICAN LEADERSHIP IS STILL SORELY NEEDED
Boston, MA – Mitt Romney delivered the following remarks on yesterday’s attacks on American diplomatic missions in Egypt and Libya:
“Americans woke up this morning with tragic news and felt heavy hearts as they considered that individuals who have served in our diplomatic corps were brutally murdered across the world. This attack on American individuals and embassies is outrageous, it’s disgusting. It breaks the hearts of all of us who think of these people who have served, during their lives, the cause of freedom, and justice and honor. We mourn their loss and join together in prayer that the spirit of the Almighty might comfort the families of those who have been so brutally slain.
“Four diplomats lost their life, including the U.S. Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens, in the attack on our embassy at Benghazi, Libya. And, of course, with these words, I extend my condolences to the grieving loved ones, who have left behind, as a result of these who have lost their lives in the service of our nation, and I know that the people across America are grateful for their service and we mourn their sacrifice.
“America will not tolerate attacks against our citizens and against our embassies. We will defend also our constitutional rights of speech and assembly and religion. We have confidence in our cause in America. We respect our Constitution. We stand for the principles our Constitution protects. We encourage other nations to understand and respect the principles of our Constitution because we recognize that these principles are the ultimate source of freedom for individuals around the world.
“I also believe the Administration was wrong to stand by a statement sympathizing with those who had breached our embassy in Egypt instead of condemning their actions. It’s never too early for the United States Government to condemn attacks on Americans, and to defend our values. The White House distanced itself last night from the statement, saying it wasn’t ‘cleared by Washington.’ That reflects the mixed signals they’re sending to the world.
“The attacks in Libya and Egypt underscore that the world remains a dangerous place and that American leadership is still sorely needed. In the face of this violence, America cannot shrink from the responsibility to lead. American leadership is necessary to ensure that events in the region don’t spin out of control. We cannot hesitate to use our influence in the region to support those who share our values and our interests. Over the last several years, we have stood witness to an Arab Spring that presents an opportunity for a more peaceful and prosperous region, but also poses the potential for peril, if the forces of extremism and violence are allowed to control the course of events.
“We must strive to ensure that the Arab Spring does not become an Arab Winter.”