As all of you know by now, last week an incident occurred in Afghanistan in which some Qurans were burned and then were discovered by some local citizens. The citizens, reacting predictably as faithful Muslims, responded with anger and violence to the destruction of their holy book. In their anger they began killing American soldiers in retaliation for desecrating and destroying the Holy Quran. After watching scenes of violent incidents like this unfold in the Middle East for the last 10 or 12 years, this reaction didn’t come as a surprise. The surprise was our administration’s response.
The military commander on the ground in Afghanistan apologized to the Afghan people and President Karzai for the book burning saying it was an accident. However, information was also distributed that the Qurans were confiscated from Muslim war prisoners who were using the books to write covert messages to other prisoners. This is standard operating procedure in a prison setting. If a book is being used to hide contraband or to pass messages between inmates it is standard procedure to confiscate the book and destroy it, particularly if it has been altered and/or damaged. In the case of the Qurans – Islamic law forbids writing or desecrating the Holy Quran in any manner so the prisoners who were using them to pass messages by writing in them had already disrespected and desecrated the books. The Qurans were desecrated by the Muslim prisoners themselves and were confiscated for security purposes by the American military. They were sent out to be destroyed as per S.O.P. The only thing done wrong by the military, apparently, was that they didn’t destroy them completely. Some of the books were not completely burned and were found by local citizens.
Our President, reacting to the violence against American soldiers, apologized publicly to President Karzai. In a letter to Karzai, Obama expressed “regret and apologies over the incident in which religious materials were unintentionally mishandled. “
“The error was inadvertent,” Obama said in his letter. “I assure you that we will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, to include holding accountable those responsible.” It was reported that Karzai told lawmakers that a U.S. officer responsible for the burning “didn’t understand” what he was doing and that the United States had “accepted the mistake of its officer.”
When I first heard the story of Qurans being “inadvertently burned” and about the apologies I thought “OK, I don’t think the President needed to get involved but if Qurans were accidentally burned by our military then an apology from the base commander is certainly appropriate.” I could even have gone as far as the Secretary of Defense but that was pushing it. I saw no need for the President of the United States to apologize for this incident. Yet there was an incident in 2008 where a U.S. sniper shot a Quran in Iraq and President Bush apologized for that incident so I can give President Obama a pass. Although, in my opinion, we’re getting far too sensitive and politically correct when it comes to Islam the apology was in keeping with past practice. However, “holding accountable those responsible” for an accidental incident seems to echo a more recent practice by the Obama administration. The words “The police acted stupidly” are echoing around in my head for some reason and that’s not a pleasant thought.
Now that the entire story has come out here is my problem with the whole thing. There are mixed messages coming out of Washington and from the commander in Afghanistan. They said the Quran burning was “inadvertent” and/or “accidental.” Yet they say the Qurans had been confiscated because they were being used to pass messages between Muslim war prisoners. The prisoners themselves desecrated the Qurans by writing in them. Standard procedure would have dictated that the Qurans be destroyed as contraband. And we should never apologize for following our own procedures.
So which is it? Was it an accident or was it intentional and we’re telling them it was accidental in an effort to appease them? And what about the President’s statement “I assure you that we will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, to include holding accountable those responsible.” What, exactly, does that mean? Either someone will be held responsible for an accident or they’ll be held responsible for doing their job correctly. What kind of message does that send to our troops in the field?
Speaking to a reporter two days ago President Obama defended his apology and said it “calmed the situation down.” Yesterday two more U.S. soldiers were killed by rioters. Apparently the rioters didn’t get the President’s message. The Afghan government, through its "Media and Information Center," reported Saturday that NATO has promised to prosecute the U.S. soldiers involved in the Koran-burning incident that has sparked outrage in the Muslim world.
"NATO officials promised to meet Afghan nation’s demand of bringing to justice, through an open trial of those responsible for the incident and it was agreed that the perpetrators of the crime be brought to justice as soon as possible," the statement said.
So now we’ve gone from an “inadvertent” and “accidental” burning of Qurans to those who actually did it facing a trial in Afghanistan for criminal actions. So far six U.S. soldiers have been killed in retaliation by Afghan citizens yet we’re apologizing to them? Whether it was an accident or, more likely, an intentional destruction of contraband – it’s time for our President to put his foot down, stand up and defend the U.S. It’s time for President Obama to say “We did it. Here’s why we did it and if one more of our soldiers dies because of it we will fire on anyone who approaches our base and then we will pull our troops out of your God-forsaken country and leave you to your own destiny.” Of course, President Obama will never say that because it’s apparently more important to him that we appease Islam than protect our own troops.
I can tell you one thing for certain – if he (the President) allows “those responsible” to be tried for this he will alienate even more American citizens. More and more Americans are getting really tired of our President apologizing for America and supporting Islam over U.S. interests. President Obama either needs to be the leader of the United States and the Commander in Chief of our military or step aside and let someone else do it.