Gingrich Endangers US troops by Slamming Obama for Apology over Qur’an Burning

Newt Gingrich continued to put his entire lack of logic on display on Thursday, when he criticized President Obama for apologizing for the desecration of the Qur’an at Bagram Base. Gingrich said Obama had not similarly sought an apology from Afghan president Hamid Karzai for the killing of two US soldiers by a uniformed Afghanistan National Army soldier.

But Obama’s apology was intended to prevent more US troops from being killed. And Gingrich has no idea if Karzai sent behind the scene apologies for the US soldiers’ deaths.

As this report makes clear, a lot of Afghans discount the Obama administration’s apology anyway, promising more violence.

The US military holds Qur’ans at Bagram because they are distributed to captured Taliban in the cells there. It is alleged that inmates were writing on the pages and passing them on as a way of spreading radical notions or suggesting means of escape. The old Qur’ans were sent to be disposed of, but whoever was in charge did not know that burning old Qur’ans is sacrilegious.

In Afghanistan, old Qur’ans are either to be preserved in an attic, or if disposed of should be buried or allowed to float away in a river. Afghans are much more reverent toward the physical Qur’an than is typical in the Arab world.

The reason for which Obama apologized in Afghanistan has to do with the danger that eventually more will be killed if the demonstrations are not tamped down. There are tens of thousands of US troops in Afghanistan on a counter-insurgency mission that involves, in part, winning hearts and minds.

By loudly complaining in this way Gingrich is giving aid and comfort to the enemy. The Taliban are already calling for US troops to be targeted, and when people hear Gingrich on the radio saying that the apology was wrong, it might provoke a new round of demonstrations.

It is Gingrich who should apologize. It is despicable that he should play politics with the lives of US troops.

Posted in Afghanistan | 21 Responses | Print |

21 Responses

  1. A historian friend I talk with each week asked the question: Has Obama lost control of policy? He was struck by the recent article in Rolling Stone by Tim Dickerson on the war on pot. My friend says he is not states rights advocate in general, but this Obama administration war on medical pot was a incredible violation of states rights.

    On the radio this morning the Republican candidates are saying that if they are elected, gas prices will go down. As Juan has pointed out the military threats against Iran are churning the world markets. Just when I didn’t think that the elections couldn’t get any more crazy, they did.

    Back to the question: has Obama lost control of policy. This is from a comment to Glenn Greenwald’s post today. The post is from someone named hquain.

    Here is a possible answer posted on Glenn Greenwald’s column today that only losers follow the law.

    CO = candidate Obama

    Friday, February 24, 2012 at 8:38 am
    It seems almost unfair to refer back to Candidate Obama, since C.O. clearly didn’t become president.

    Perhaps the right analysis is this: no one became president, in any executive sense of the word.

    Policy is clearly generated by Geithner, Gates/Panetta, Petraeus, and others unknown and unknowable. The one called President is just the decider: the man who says ‘yes’.

    • Hillary Clinton seemed to generate her own policy backing the coup in Honduras, as well. But when it looked like she was in the bag for Mubarak, things turned around.

  2. “It is Gingrich who should apologize. It is despicable that he should play politics with the lives of US troops.”

    You are spot on, professor. This is one more example (if any were needed) of Gingrich as an ignorant gas-bag.

  3. “Gingrich should apologize”? You’re not understanding Republican tactics. Gingrich – among others – attacks the President for offering an apology for the insensitive, bone-headed actions of some of the American troops.

    Said actions of troops (and not the President) have inflamed tensions, causing violence and calls for even more violence. Blame it on Obama! Insensitive, inflammatory Republican remarks against Obama’s apology, and even against Islam and Muslims causes further violence. Blame it on Obama some more!

    The corporate news media won’t argue with your assessment, and probably won’t even air dissenting views. Who among the American public has an attention span or short term memory long enough to connect the dots? It’s enough that Obama apologized, and violence broke out. It’s his fault!

    This is why I listen to the BBC and NHK… :-(

    • Gingrich is out to prove that the American people never really believed they were occupying Afghanistan to help the people there, but only to punish them for the sin of Islam. He might succeed.

  4. Shows you how out of touch with reality Newt (the man of ideas) is. It is as if Karzai selected the Afghan troops. The troops must screened by Americans as they are supposedly trying to build an Afghan national army. Instead of seeing this event as the foolishness of the Obama’s goal in Afghanistan, he is just showing his lack of intellect.

  5. President Obama did the right thing. The same right wing people coming unglued about the apology for the Koran burning would be demanding a wholesale slaughter of anyone burning bibles. Complete hipocrits

  6. seems like we have some added responsibility to understand the occupied when we’re the occupier

  7. “. . . whoever was in charge did not know that burning old Qur’ans is sacrilegious.”

    Is it reading too much into this incident to believe it shows once and for all that the military is utterly incapable of conducting nation-building in Afghanistan? After occupying this country for more than a decade, how can people not know that this will cause an explosion? Weren’t there riots a few years ago over the reported “desecration” of Korans? So, of course, by all means let’s set some on fire. The mind boggles.

    On a related note, can these violent protests be seen as a general protest agaist the occupation itself, rather than merely protests against Koran-burning?

    • The Afghan surge brought a big increase in night raids and civilian killings; and the frequent outrages against Afghan sensibilities by US troops, most recently filming themselves urinating on dead Afghans and posting the video, now burning Korans at the horror-base Bagram, have added to a growing popular rejection of US and NATO troops. This last outrage it seems was one too many. I think it’s over.
      Someone needs now to take a serious look at what goes on in our military training- our soldiers too often behave with disrespect and brutality toward the people they are supposedly “helping”. That is why for example we had to withdraw from Iraq, because a free Iraq could never accept a SOFA which gave US troops immunity for prosecution- not after Abu Ghraib, Mahmoudiya, Haditha, Nisour Square and hundreds of other incidents which tragically cost so many innocent lives. And our civilian leaders have got to be very wary now of putting american troops anywhere in the world, because the longer they stay the more things like this happen, inevitably sabotaging whatever the mission might have been. And it’s not getting better by itself- for example those responsible for the Haditha massacre have all been either exonerated or released.
      There is something wrong with the training. I haven’t been in the military, so I can’t say what it is, and I wish some military people would speak out about it. Our military is very good at smash and grab, but absolutely terrible on stabilizing afterward an extended occupation. Our troops cannot apparently occupy a country without ultimately turning everyone against us. This is a big problem and really should be addressed.

      • I have read many, many accounts of the behavior of US troops towards civilians in Vietnam. Much of it was horrifying, but much of it was also friendly and well-intentioned. It’s now unimaginable that US troops once rented dives off-base in Saigon and lived unsupervised among civilians. We should be alarmed that in Iraq and Afghanistan the balance has shifted towards unbridled hostility. The problem isn’t the training; the problem is that something is changing inside of us, or at least of that portion of us that joins the Army and Marines to fight the rest of the world. There is a growing barbarism loose in our land that shows in a hundred little ways every day.

  8. Amen to Zandru – the BBC, particularly Newshour and The World Today are always worth a listen.

    I never watch the debates because, with the exception of Ron Paul, the candidates usually speak as if the audience were ignorant fools with the most superficial understanding of topics. From audience reaction, one can only assume they are making a valid assessment. The only virtue of the format is that occasionally the speakers will goof and say something revealing.

    When it comes to presidential addresses, I refuse to watch but for a different reason – I know that every syllable has been carefully crafted with the president normally mouthing the words of others which he has OK’d in advance. Add in the lofty, self-righteous delivery of Obama and his history of saying one thing and doing another – it’s unbearable.

    One need only read a few pages of the text of the Lincoln-Douglas debates to realize how far we fallen from respect for the electorate.

  9. “But Obama’s apology was intended to prevent more US troops from being killed.”

    I understand that political considerations require that Obama have given this reason for his apology. But if we set those political considerations aside — as we have the luxury of doing here — does that reason for the apology strike anyone as likely to infuriate Afghans still further? Does it not imply that no apology would have been forthcoming were Americans not exposed to possible retaliation?

  10. I’m certainly not for Gingrich but I don’t really see why Obama apologized. If the allegations were true about these Korans being used to send messages than they were already “desecrated” anyway.

  11. The Afghanis who would rise up against the ‘occupiers’ because of the desecration would only view the messages as justified in the fight against the infidels. Afghanistan is not called ‘the graveyard of empires’ because it’s a catchy phrase on a travel brochure. Are we learning the lesson that those gone before us have? It doesn’t look like it from here.

  12. I’ve heard/read several incompatible accounts of the burning of the Korans. Most of these accounts assert that U.S. authorities KNEW that prisoners or terrorists had written messages in the Koran that were useful to other terrorists. If so, here are some questions (1) Were the messages in English? (2) Were the messages in Arabic or some language spoken in Afghanistan or Pakistan? (3) If the answer to (2) is “Yes”, is it credible that the U.S authorities could (a) read the message but (b) not know the consequence of burning the Korans containing the messages and c) not want to preserve the Korans as evidence? (4) If the answer to (1) is “yes”, why didn’t the U.S. authorities conclude that someone was making fun of them?

    • On the several comments about “messages” in the burned Korans:

      Might it not have been more diplomatic to do something other than burn the Korans? Lock them in a file cabinet, for example?

  13. Why are we even in a country where people are so crazy that disposing of an old book results in 6 people being murdered and dozens injured? Our mere presence there is fanning the flames of religious hatred and war. We should apologize for invading in the first place and GET OUT, NOW!

    • Thomas,

      Your comment suggests that burning an old Christian bible might not upset people here. Whether or not that’s true, other symbolic acts might. For example, if a group of Muslims in this country burned an American flag, it might upset many Americans.

      When in Afghanistan, do as the Afghanis do. They don’t burn Korans.

      • Religious moderates again making excuses for religious extremism. I’m tired of all the excuses for killing someone over a copy of a religious text. Christopher Hitchens was right, religion kills.

Comments are closed.