The sovereignty of the United States of America was successfully challenged 11 years ago when suicide bombers flew commercial airplanes into the World Trade Center. Yesterday, as we remembered the sacrifices of those killed on 9/11/01 and those that have died protecting our freedom since then, there were two more successful attacks on our sovereignty on American soil.
Is this a mere coincidence or is it something that needs to be carefully and prayerfully considered?
First, a mob attacked the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt. The Egyptian government failed to provide any security to prevent the attack (which I take as a sign of their involvement or approval). The rioters, angry over some obscure video on the internet that denigrated the Prophet, first protested outside the embassy and spray-painted the walls. Rioters were then able to scale the outer wall and penetrate the embassy compound-to the point of being able to capture the United State flag that is the national symbol of all we stand for. News video shows the rioters tearing and burning the flag and brings back memories of the Tehran hostage crisis in 1979. But they didn't stop there. They then raised their own black flag over sovereign U.S. territory that proclaimed 'There is no God but God', essentially claiming sovereign U.S. territory for Islam.
Second, there was a similar riot that occurred on sovereign U.S. soil at our embassy in Benghazi, Libya. Fire bombs were thrown into the embassy and, according to Reuters "On Wednesday morning, the compound stood empty, with passers-by freely walking in to take a look at the damage." The assault didn't stop with looting, though, as a rocket propelled grenade was fired at the vehicle carrying the U.S. Ambassador to Libya, killing him. Reuters reports that Ambassador Christopher Stevens died when 'gunmen fired rockets' at the vehicle. Three other embassy staff members died of gunshots. Supposedly, Libyan security forces were 'overwhelmed' by the protestors.
I don't believe that this is a mere coincidence. We need to recognize this as a warning of what may lie ahead. America is vulnerable to physical attack, but also to financial attack. Forensic evidence on the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers and the ensuing near-collapse of our financial markets in 2008 has revealed the possible involvement of sovereign governments, nation states and terrorist organizations in the events that precipitated the crash. Some speculate that it was a trial run. The U.S. has enemies that are committed to attacking us wherever they think we are vulnerable.
What bothers me most about the events yesterday was the apparent lack of consequences on those initiating the attacks. It reinforces the message that it is OK to attack the U.S. and only encourages similar behavior in the future. Worse, the response from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was to apologize to the Egyptian people for any offense against the Prophet Mohammed. APOLOGIZE? Where is the outright condemnation which is then followed by action? Are there sanctions? Is a cut in funding to Cairo or Egypt being considered. If the silence from the current administration is any indication, no.
The response to these attacks by the current administration follows a pattern that began shortly after President Obama's inauguration. He toured around the world making speeches that were intended to 'repair' our relationship with Muslim nations and to build bridges. Some have coined that trip the 'Apology Tour'. The effect of the trip, in my opinion, was to show America as weak; to signal that the foreign policy of the U.S. was going to be considerably different from that of the Bush administration. The response to this attack on U.S. soil only further reinforces those views by those that wish us harm.
As financial analysts and wealth managers, we factor in political and economic events into our investment strategies. We build theses based on slowing growth in China, the Japan debacle, the European Debt Crisis, the U.S. Debt Crisis and the U.S. employment situation. It is just as vital, though; that we take into consideration the personal and financial impact that the U.S. foreign policy stance is and will have now and in the future.
The events that just 'happened' to have occurred yesterday may seem benign and may be quickly forgotten in our 24 hour news cycles, but history may one day show that these events were a warning of worse things to come.