Obama’s Latest Apology

Not that it worked, but...

Regardless of where one stands on accusations that President Obama has been too generous with apologies (regrets, acknowledged mistakes, etc.) to foreign nations, there should be no argument over whether his apology to his Afghan President Hamid Karzai for the inadvertent burning of copies of the Quran by American soldiers was appropriate. It was,  it was also responsible and necessary, and it required a measure of political courage for which the President deserves praise, not criticism.

As properly explained by Lisa Curtis, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation specializing in South and Central Asia (who is obviously not running for the Republican presidential nomination), “It was an important demonstration of respect for the Afghan people and their religious faith.” President Obama was attempting to defuse a potentially explosive situation, protect the fragile situation in Afghanistan and avoid American deaths.

This was responsible diplomacy. The Republicans who are taking cheap shots at President Obama for this should be ashamed of themselves.

44 thoughts on “Obama’s Latest Apology

  1. No. It was the wrong call, Jack. It would have been one thing to express regret that some Korans had been inadvertantly destroyed. But to prostrate onself (in essence) with a formal, pages-long apology only served to diminsh America in the eyes of its enemies and the Afghans; our enemies because they hate us and the Afghans because they despite weaklings. They already hold us in contempt because we lack the conviction to stand up for our own faith against persecution while, at the same time, risking our soldiers’ lives in their behalf. They understand strength, conviction and piety. They see that in our troops, but none of it in our leader. That undoes whatever the troops have accomplished. That this leader furthermore holds those troops in contempt himself exacerbates the problem.

    • The Korans were not “inadvertently” destroyed. They were deliberately destroyed in an improper manner. Middle East experts say that unwanted Korans should be buried or sent down a river. Obviously, no one bothered to find out the proper religious ceremony and inform the soldiers who burned the Korans. I do not blame them; they were improperly trained. These experts say, in addition, that the kind of remarks made by Newt Gingrich will only make things worse and put our soldiers in even great danger. I agree with Jack on this one, although I fully expected the blowback from Republican presidential candidates.

      Also, I would like a concrete example of President Obama showing contempt for our soldiers–and not one based on ideological differences you may have with him.

      • The report I have is that they were inadvertently destroyed, that the soldiers took them off of prisoners and didn’t realize what they were. Maybe this is CYA, maybe not. It really doesn’t change the need for a diplomatic response.

    • Steven, I have a difficult time understanding your ideas on how you think the U.S., regardless of president, (most Afghan tribes recognize the U.S. as a whole, not one president) should deal with other countries during war. I suggest you do some reading on the topics related to the Lieber Code, recognising civilized conduct during war in the “Art of War” and more recently the Medina Standard. The U.S. is above all that garbage in disrespecting our enemies. We are professionals. Our goals in war are peace and respect. I think the idea of burning books and pissing of war dead is a waste of time during war. These actions do nothing to demoralize the enemy. It only provokes more anger.

      • Sorry I missed all this until now.

        Michael: The United States Armed Forces have few apologies to make to anyone in our conduct of war. Rather the reverse. Our own standards have run so high as to be ridiculous in some instances. Naturally bad things happen in war. Naturally American troops have committed actions unacceptable to us when in service. But let’s take it in perspective, shall we? The U.S. military, in all facets, stands tall among its foreign peers.

        In the case at hand, it has to be remembered that those Korans in question had already been “desecrated” by Moslem prisoners who had been writing illicit messages in it to one another. Had they been doing so in Bibles, those Bibles would have been properly destroyed. Yet, because the “infidels” (who have been concurently laying down their lives for a free Afghanistan) undertook this, THEY are now to blame. At least, according to a Taliban rent-a-mob. And we’re supposed to apologize… and after American troops have been murdered in the process?

        On the same token, we’ve gone out of our way to prevent damage to their “holy” mosques… only to have our troops shot at FROM those mosques by insurgents… and to find that they’ve been using it as a weapons dump. Then, at the same time, Sunnis and Shiites blow up each other’s mosques, uniting only to destroy Christian churches full of women and children. But… if we so much as scratch a mosque in cleaning out a nest of murderous fanatics, we must apologize.

        Personally, I’m sick of apologizing to people who have absolutely no right to demand it of us. And I’m thoroughly sick of a President who feels constrained to do so on the apparent fundamental of liberal thought that America is to blame in all things. We’re not. We’re battling evil. You don’t apologize to evil people.

  2. I see nothing wrong with an apology. I just wonder why. Was it respect for the Afghans and their religion? The Military burned some unwanted Bibles a short time ago and many Christians were upset. They didn’t go on a killing spree, but they certainly didn’t get an apology. It makes one wonder who has respect for what religion. So is Obama apologizing to show respect for the Afghans’ religious faith or does he feel intimidated by the violence and the killing?

    • Diplomacy, that’s all. The rioting and violence in response to the burnings makes the reasoning obvious. You apologize to save American lives and not have a whole region blow up because of some damn books. It’s not as if the soldiers behaved properly—it was stupid, and against US policy.

      • Officials said the books were removed from the detention center library because detainees were using them to pass secret and extremist messages to one another. It would have been stupid to allow this to continue. The books may not have been disposed of according to US policy, but if this is true, they were certainly right to remove them from the library.

  3. The news I received was that Obama shot off a several-pages-long apology to Karzai. This was in spite of the fact that the “Korans” were being used to smuggle messages to prison inmates by the Taliban, effectively dismissing their status as “holy writings”… and at the hands of fellow Moslems! This is also in spite of the fact that the Taliban merely used this non-issue to whip up mobs of fanatics who would kill Karzai himself as soon as anyone. Karzai is still trying to sit on the fence in the middle of a war. Of course, Obama has contributed to Karzai’s position himself by setting a withdrawal date in advance, thus further encouraging the enemy and putting our troops there in a position of even greater danger- not to mention the fact that they are now condemned to fighting a no-win political war, throwing away all they gained with their blood and sweat.. as with Iraq. (That, Jan, is only one of many ways Obama has marginalized, insulted and endangered American troops.) And lastly, how about a “small” apology for the two Army officers who were murdered by an Afghan soldier in “retaliation” for the burning of the pre-desecrated Korans?

          • As compared to what? MSNBC? Foxnews? CBS? New York Times? Newsweek? Time? Yahoo? I try like hell to get as many angles on any story I am interested in. I’m not saying that CNSnews.com is unreliable. All news sources claim to be reliable. Most of them either leave out important information or twist it to fit their intended audience views. I don’t claim to be an expert but I think I know when someone is saying something that is more of an opinion than a concrete fact. If you like or don’t like a particular politician or ideology, you’re going to watch, read or listen with bias. I am aware of my bias, but I try very hard to check and recheck each story. I detest the ridiculous emails and stories that are obviously fabricated because if they “stick” in any way they blind the ignorant and uninformed.

            • That’s a “Both sides do it! I don’t care if one side is lying, threatening, and physically attacking while the other side is just not sugar coating their valid points. Both sides are equally bad!”

              Anyway, SMP was apparently taking CNS on their word, so your comments on my complaint don’t apply.

                • I can’t remember being accused of being ostentatious. Callous? Yes. Uncaring? Yes. But theatrical or ostentatious? Not so much.

                  I tend to be pretty blunt.

              • Of course, Michael’s statement has less to do with all sides being equally bad, and more that it’s always good to double-check your sources, because most of them will leave something important out at least some of the time.

                Wait…am I being ostentatious myself?

              • tgt, Who are the “both” you are talking about? I think there is more than two sides. Of course I’ve been accused of being liberal more than conservative, but I do have views that are slanted to the right.

                I made a comment. It had a question in it. No one had to answer it. But the response given came accross as “your comments don’t count”. tgt and Steven have interpreted my comments as being liberal. Because of that I have them pegged as conservatives. I have defended both political sides and have favorite statesmen from both sides of the fence. Therefore I tend not to be too critical until all is said and done. To tell me my comments don’t apply…..ok…..but do you write or say “you’re an idiot” every time you think it? Kind of vain, isn’t it?

                • Who are the “both” you are talking about?

                  It’s a turn of phrase. You attacked my comment that CNS is specifically unreliable. You claimed that all news sources shade the truth, so why is CNS specifically bad?

                  I stand by my statement on that account.

                  I made a comment. It had a question in it. No one had to answer it. But the response given came accross as “your comments don’t count”.

                  That was not my intention. My response wasn’t attacking you, but the silliness of your particular argument. Yes, it’s a good thing to recognize your biases and to be constantly checking what you hear to make sure you’re not just hearing what you want to hear. I applaud you for it, but it was irrelevant in context.

                  tgt and Steven have interpreted my comments as being liberal. Because of that I have them pegged as conservatives.

                  You’re lumping me and Steven together? We’re diametrically opposed on nearly everything that’s political. I fall under liberaltarian, and he falls under FoxNews. Anyway, I haven’t pegged you as liberal. In this case, specifically, I considered your opinion faux-centric: unwilling to say something is worse than something else.

                  I have defended both political sides and have favorite statesmen from both sides of the fence. Therefore I tend not to be too critical until all is said and done.

                  The second statement doesn’t follow from the first. I don’t have favorite statesmen on “both” sides, but that doesn’t mean I can’t be critical of bad ideas independent of who says them.

                  To tell me my comments don’t apply…..ok…..but do you write or say “you’re an idiot” every time you think it? Kind of vain, isn’t it?

                  When someone makes non sequitur comments, I call them out, You made good points, but the necessary conditions for them to be relevant did not exist. It wasn’t personal. It’s not “All comments ever made by you are useless”. It’s “these specific comments don’t apply to the existing situation”.

                  I also didn’t call you an idiot. Clearly, either I didn’t think you were an idiot (in which case this comment seems to be out of left field) or I don’t write it everytime I think it (so this comment would be trivially answered).

    • Sorry, but I said a concrete example of contempt, not a difference of strategy or policy. Obama has always shown the highest regard for our military. One could interpret his policy in Afghanistan as preserving American lives. You’re going to have to do better than that.

      • Nope. His “high regard” for the military has always been cosmetic, at best. This is the same man who called for a “civilian” corps to offset the Armed Forces and has enforced social experimentation upon it in the middle of combat operations. And, as I mentioned, this man also endangered and demoralized our ground forces in the Middle East by pulling them out before the mission was achieved. If you think that’s nothing, you can ask a few Vietnam Era veterans about it… myself included.

        • Steven, First of all, CNS is a right wing conservative news outlet, much like Fox. There is countless examples of right wing and left wing media sources as you well know. They do what they can to manipulate the truth for the party of their choice.

          Second, Kharzai did NOT provoke the violence by accepting the letter. The Taliban is using it as propaganda to induce the Muslim extremist to continue to wreak havoc on our operations. The U.S., on it’s own, will never be able to entirely wipeout terrorism. We might be able to deminish it’s threat on American soil, but we can not sustain the previous wars to eliminate it. Using the surge in both Iraq and Ahghanistan as the tactic to give us a little boost only marginally worked. If it had worked, we would have been home by now. It helped morale wise to a certain degree but it shows that it was only a temporary solution to a permanent problem.

          The question I have: In your words, what is the goal of the mission in Afghanistan? What tactics and overall strategy do you recommend to obtain said goal? Strategic bombing? Torture? Propaganda? Destruction of personal, religious, and cultural property? More boots on the ground? Special operations? Diplomacy? The president is doing what he can to save American lives. It isn’t perfect, but I have yet to hear another solution to the mess we are in. The decisions aren’t the president’s alone. He has experts including military leaders, other international leaders and people across the political spectrum. I’m pretty confident that any president would have sent the same letter to Kharzai. And we would be met with the same retaliation. At least have the decency to support the U.S. during this military campaign, whoever the president may be or whatever the defining goal may be. I haven’t been too impressed by the last few CINCs.

          I have to agree with Jan, I don’t see a concrete example of contempt for our military. If that were true I believe Obama would have drawn in the reins on the mission to get ObL and not trusted the most capable fighting force to attempt to capture and ultimately eliminate the threat to our democracy here and around the world.

          • 1. You’re free to evaluate news sources as you see fit, Michael. I mentioned CNS because that was the first site I had at my fingertips. Search as you will.

            2. I never said that Karzai directly provoked violence. He did it through playing politics with the situation… as did Obama. In many ways, they’re birds of a feather.

            3. Of course, America can’t wipe out evil by itself. No number of nations in alliance could, either. We’re talking about the age old war that is as old as mankind and will persist as long as Man does.

            4. Your litany of possible “tactics” for Afghanistan make it evident that you already despise America over the enemy, so there’s little for me to say.

            5. Ronald Reagan wasn’t known for his abject kowtowing to foreign entities. Barack Obama is. The only time Reagan bent knee to any overseas sovereign was when he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth.

            6. Obama’s too shifty to openly denegrate the Armed Forces. He just undermines them with regulations, social experimentation and subtle expressions. But, like most committed liberals, he despises them at heart for their virtues. And he fears them as the respected guardians of the country… as do all would-be tyrants; here or abroad.

            • I take serious offense to being told that I despise America over the enemy. And how are those proposed tactics evidence? I wasn’t being sarcastic. I was asking you a legitimate question since you seem to believe to know more about foreign relations than the combined knowledge of the president, secretary of state, and secretary of defense. I am concerned that my fellow patriots, namely the military, will die in vain. Who’s constitutional rights are we protecting over there? The Afghans don’t seem to care about us fighting for their freedom or for us to rid their country of terrorist training operations. But that doesn’t mean we dishonor our forefather’s code for being humane during war. Pissing on dead combatants minimizes the integrity of our reasons to be there. Burning the Korans was a mistake. I understand that the enemy desecrated the books before they were burned. Out of respect for the religion of Islam we could have contacted a Muslim authority, reported the desecration, and allowed them to properly dispose of the books.

              I am furious whenever I see our flag desecrated in our country or in other countries. As a Christian, I would be beside myself if I saw an enemy burning Bibles. I believe we, as Americans, are above that. You know, as well as I, that we are deliberate in our actions. We don’t have time to fuss about pissing on bodies or burning books. That is for imbeciles on the side of the enemy. Again, I am an American and don’t care to be called otherwise. Whenever I took the oath, I was serious and conscientious. It had nothing to do with burning books or pissing on war dead. I believe you are an American and deserve to have your views. I am only asking questions to find out why you believe what you believe.

              • Since you seem fixated on American soldiers’ actions in isolated incidents during wartime- real or alleged- without consideration to the political restrictions, the rules of engagement, the nature of the enemy (or his own record of savagery), I can’t help but question your frame of reference. When you fight a “limited” war against an enemy on his own terms (think Vietnam) this is what you get… even with the best army in the world. The problem- as with that other war- is not the justice of it, but the way it is being waged. When Obama issued his “cut and run” order, he left our troops there with a different mission. Instead of fighting to defeat an enemy of civilization, it now becomes a matter of not dying for a cause already declared lost. They- and the Karzai government, no doubt- already see the Vietnam parallels. They remember how, under similar conditions, America left SE Asia and then, in a monumental act of betrayal (orchestrated by Obama’s late buddy, Ted Kennedy) cut off all support to our ally and allowed it to be conquered by a ruthless, murdering enemy. It’s little wonder that that NCO went nuts a few days ago. The fact that something like this hasn’t happened before is a testament to the courage and discipline of our troops.

        • I am married to a VIet Nam vet who thinks Obama’s withdrawal plan from Afghanistan is just fine. Your assessment of Obama is based on Ideological differences, not facts. Using code words like “civilian corps” (fact checked at the time as being nothing more than expanding the Peace Corps and AmeriCorps), and “social engineering” (I guess that’s allowing gays to serve openly in the military?) just show that you watch too much Fox News–or no, I guess it’s CNS.

          As Michael has already pointed out, the President does not make these decisions alone. Apparently, his military advisors, some of whom he inherited from the Bush administration, also have “contempt” for the military (therefore themselves). Say his policies are wrong-headed or counterproductive and I’m fine with that. That’s my opinion of George Bush–not that he had contempt for the men and women in the armed forces.

        • “Vietnam Era” ? I’ve always taken that as code for never having been in combat. Am I correct? If so I don’t know how your moral could be effected by a war you weren’t fighting. I know plenty of combat Marines who fought in that war and were glad we were getting the hell out of there.

          As to the social engineering experiment that you are talking about , it has had no effect. Today’s generation of Soldiers Sailors and Marines don’t have the prejudice that you do. All they care about is whether someone can fight. People said the same thing about blacks and integration and but when Marines were forced to integrate combat units at the start of the Korean War those same types of prejudices were proven false.

          The proposed cuts to the military are not just of his doing. Bush and Rumsfeld had already started down this road.

          What weapon systems are you talking about that he has cut? If your talking about the new landing craft the Marines wanted that was a total piece of garbage that wasn’t working and never was going to work.

          • That’s a lot of splatter on the wall, Bill. You’re putting words in my mouth and drawing idiot conclusions from them. Along with, I noticed, the usual “it’s Bush’s fault” blather. Save that for the union beer hall rally and spare me, okay?

  4. I’ve tended to find CNS pretty accurate over time, Michael. Naturally, I don’t share your prejudice over “right wing” news sources. Frankly, I’m glad there are a few to balance out what I find elsewhere. No one said that Karzai actively promoted the violence. His ineptitude- aided by Obama’s- kicked the door open for a resurgent Taliban… that resurgence being also a factor of their’s. I’ll pass by your obligatory swipe at the success of the Surge. The mission in Afghanistan was self-determination for the Afghans, freedom from the insane Taliban regime (responsible for the bulk of the atrocities you- naturally- accuse America of and the containment of Iran’s fanatic regime until a popular movement from within could collapse it. Obama managed to sabotage every aspect of it. That’s contempt enough for American troops in itself. His efforts to further weaken and demoralize the Armed Forces through politically induced measures and directives- not to mention defunding of necessary logistics and weapons projects- merely adds to his growing negative legacy.

    • Do you think George H.W. Bush’s RIF at the end of the Persian Gulf War was contempt for the military? I saw and heard of the morale of life long enlisted members severely damaged. Many even took their lives as they were being forced out. If that isn’t contempt for the armed services then I don’t know what is. Many of the them grew up in military homes and saw themselves retiring from the service of their country. They were given a choice of taking an early retirement or staying in. Many took the risk and stayed in, only to be separated early with less benefits. Many conservatives were in an uproar at the end of Clinton’s administration arguing he allowed the military to regress to former numbers. The proof is in the pudding.

  5. If you expect me, here, to go defending everything either of the Bushes did while in office, forget it. But they’re not in office now. Obama is. BTW: I saw the results of the RIFs of the early 1970’s, too. I was there. There are always time after a large war when a reduction in force is absolutely necessary. This is hardly one of those times.

  6. Lawrence Korb, a former assistant to the secretary of defense in the Reagan administration has written extensively on how it is possible to have military cuts and still have the best in the world. Even with the war budget, military spending takes quite a bit of the discretionary spending. He has stated that he believes budget deficits and the debt is creating more problems with national defense. I really think he knows what he is talking about. More with less and “adapt and overcome” to put it in simple terms.

    • Of course, it’s possible! It’s a matter of discretion and priorities based on projected needs. However, when you cut into combat strength when the need may prove imminent (and in a period of actual hostilities!), when you degrade projects of vital interest to the battlefield of the future, when you parcel out the Strategic Petroleum Reserve- and a number of other facets- merely to facilitate a socio-economic agenda that has already proved a massive failure, that’s something else entirely.

  7. This will be my last post for awhile. I found out I lost a friend in Afghanistan today. We trained together. I know he didn’t himself as anything but American. He passed in honor with the greatest sacrifice that one can give his country. Godspeed bro!

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