Extremist-led attempts to prevent the emergence of modern societies in Islamic countries will continue to imperil U.S. efforts to improve conditions in that part of the world and the safety of diplomats like Ambassador Chris Stevens, who risk their lives daily on the front lines of American foreign policy. But the events in Libya and Egypt should not deter efforts to promote the U.S. national interest in the region peacefully but forcefully. The last thing the United States can afford to do — what its enemies would love for it to do — is to abandon the strategy of creating stronger bonds with emerging governments of the region in the wake of the Arab Spring. This is not Tehran, 1979, when government-backed thugs sacked the embassy and took American diplomats hostage. The Libyan government was quick to issue an apology and to condemn the attack. Libyan troops fought back against the mob, helped protect U.S. diplomats and took Stevens' body to the hospital, where he died of smoke inhalation. Libya's government vowed to bring the perpetrators to justice, and President Barack Obama pledged U.S. assistance to make that happen.
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