The Washington Free Beacon reports that Anne Patterson, the U.S. Ambassador to Cairo, forbade U.S. Marines guarding the embassy from carrying live ammo. Ambassadors might be kings (or queens) of the compound, but her pronouncement was nothing short of professional incompetence.

Forget about the Obama administration reverting to the pre-9/11 era. Patterson set the clock back to pre-1983. After all, it was during that year that Ronald Reagan, in perhaps one of the greatest mistakes of his presidency, ordered U.S. Marines into Beirut as peacekeepers. The Marines guarding their barracks, however, were not authorized to carry live ammunition. Had the guards been carrying loaded weapons, they might have shot the suicide truck bomber who rushed the gates, setting off an explosion which killed 241 American servicemen.

Nor should we dismiss the attack on the embassy as simply a protest that got out of hand, but which was fortunately diffused without the loss of life. Remember: The November 4, 1979 hostage seizure in Iran was actually the second assault on the U.S. embassy in Tehran. On February 14, radicals stormed the embassy much like they did in Cairo, in an incident now long since forgotten. Had Carter upped the defense of the embassy then, Iranian revolutionaries might not have triumphed the second time around. Alas, it seems that Obama’s team, like Carter’s before it, refuses to learn from experience and so condemns Americans to make the same mistakes repeatedly.

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