Most of us don’t remember this, because the story was drowned out by the hostage taking of Americans in Iran, but at the same time that was going on, the US Embassy in Islamabad was overrun by a mob. This was back in the Carter days, 1979. During that attack, the Marines guarding the embassy had orders not to fire. They didn’t, and Marines and other Americans died. The Pakistani government sat back and let the riot burn itself out, while the embassy staff huddled in a small, airless saferoom, waiting for rescue (most got out).
All we need now is a hostage taking for the Carter/Obama parallels to be complete.
Things have changed in Islamabad, however. Sure, the Pakistanis still love a good riot. It’s become something of a national past time, even though the end result is usually torn up Pakistani neighborhoods. But since 1979, the US embassy in Isalambad has turned into a fortress. It sits inside a massive compound, as part of a walled “embassy” section of the city. For the mob to get to the US embassy itself, it would first have to get into that walled section of the city, which is heavily guarded, pass several other embassies, and then hit our embassy. In short, I’d rather be embassy staff in Islamabad than Libya, though I have to wonder if the Marine guards in Islamabad have bullets in their guns this time around.