Clearly this a tragic situation.
If Romney and other conservatives ultimately think that it is critical ultimately that we use force against some one in the Mid-East, at the least I think we should try to make that response surgical and focused on those responsible.
The previous administration, or at least parts of it, I think basically believed that it was important to ‘show the Muslim world who was boss’ after the 9/11 of 2001. To do so: start and win a war against a Mid-Eastern country. I’m not sure it mattered who, as long as we showed we were strong and not to be trifled with.
Hence we attacked a nation nominally to disarm it of weapons it proved not to even have. To a lot of those most critical of the Obama administration, I don’t think this mattered, we showed we were not to be messed with; the Muslims hate us and we need to show them they still have to fear us, and by God we did; or so the Bush administration hoped. I’d characterize that response as blunt with abundant collateral damage to innocent by standers that may have spawned a new generation of terrorists.
In fact, 9 years later, it isn’t clear to me that we’ve cowed our enemies and potential enemies given this tragic incident. So has Obama’s charm offensive failed or the earlier attempt to intimidate the entire mid-east?
I’m inclined to think this is at least partially blow-back from our use of force rather than failure by the Obama administration. In the end we likely shouldn’t let this go unanswered, but I hope we at least make the response focused on bringing the actual perpetrators to justice, not just punishing Muslims and the Mid-East in general. Whatever we do, I don’t think it should be an act in the emotions of the moment, or that exaggerates what force can accomplish.