EDITORIAL: Obama’s burning Koran apology / President is wrong to pander to Islamic radicals who killed U.S. troops (WASHINGTON TIMES) 02/24/12)
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Raucous Afghan mobs have forced a presidential apology, even after
two American soldiers were killed. The extremists win again.
Yesterday, Afghanistan saw its third day of rioting after workers
collecting garbage at NATO´s Bagram air base found charred remains of
religious texts, including the Koran. The texts in question had been
defaced with extremist propaganda and had been disposed of. It’s
unclear who did the disposing, but it was reported that the process
was overseen by a U.S. officer. Since then, crazed mobs have gathered
in Afghan streets chanting “Death to America,” and the Taliban urged
Afghans to “continue seeking revenge until punishment is dished out
with your hands.” On Thursday, outside a U.S. base in eastern
Nangarhar province, an Afghan soldier did just that, killing two
American soldiers and escaping into the welcoming arms of an
U.S. Gen. John R. Allen, commander of the international forces,
quickly noted the “error” of the burnings, ordered an investigation
and apologized to “the noble people of Afghanistan.” President Obama
then upped the ante with a letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai,
saying the United States “will take the appropriate steps to avoid
any recurrence, to include holding accountable those responsible.”
There has been no reciprocal pledge of accountability from Kabul.
Instead, the Afghan government has demanded that NATO place the
offenders on trial, though no Western laws were broken.
The U.S. government position is that the incineration was
inadvertent, but independent reports indicate it was intentional.
The “religious texts” in question were enemy propaganda, which for
Islamists also happen to be holy writ. This is one of the nagging
problems in combating an extremist ideology based on religion.
Sensitivity to this issue can go to extremes. In 1997, the then-
ruling Taliban banned the import and use of paper bags out of concern
that recycled pulp from religious texts would be defiled. But if a
Koran contains marginalia explaining why certain passages impose a
duty on Muslims to wage war on Christians and Jews, it is prudent to
dispose of it in an approved manner.
Authoritative 19th-century Muslim scholar Muhammad Amin ibn Abidin
wrote that burning a Koran is not usually permitted, except as a last
resort, and that burial or sinking in water is preferable. Rather
than framing this issue as one of respectful disposal, Mr. Obama
caved to the extremist view and admitted America was completely in
the wrong. The Taliban can chalk it up as another victory in the war
Meanwhile, two U.S. servicemen lie dead, betrayed by a member of the
Afghan military they were in the country to train. These troops were
defending an Afghan regime that seems to believe their deaths were
justified. What offends Americans is not just the obsequiousness of
Mr. Obama’s response but its one-sidedness. Mr. Karzai will not
apologize for the deaths of our troops, for the American-flag and
Obama-effigy burnings or for the uncivilized behavior of his volatile
people. Nor will Washington demand such an apology.
Mr. Obama should have learned by now that bowing to foreign mob
violence only justifies and encourages the extremists.
Counterinsurgency means never having to say you’re sorry. (© 2012 The
Washington Times, LLC. 02/24/12)
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