It was stupid, stupid, stupid for a U. S. military officer in Afghanistan to dispose of copies of the Koran by burning them.
It was predictable that this would lead to trouble, if discovered. As Alana Goodman points out on the Commentary blog, the mere threat by a fringe pastor in Florida that he was going to burn several Korans created an international incident.
So, for once, it was correct for the United States to issue an apology. Once. But now we have seen “a parade of apologies.” Apologies so far: a hand-delivered letter of apology from President Obama to President Karzai, an apology from our Afghanistan commander, an earlier apology from the White House, an apology from NATO's International Security Assistance Force and other Pentagon officials.
Two U.S. soldiers are among the dozen or so people who have died in the ensuing riots, so I’d say that at this point we are owed an apology. This has reached the point of absurdity, and several experts have suggested that the apologies are counterproductive:
"It just feeds the sense of grievance," Nina Shea, a senior fellow with the Hudson Institute, said of the "constant round of apologies."
Shea, who sits on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, agreed with the U.S. decision to quickly apologize after the incident late Monday and order an investigation.
But she noted that the subsequent apologies "don't seem to have any effect." …
Lt. Col. Tony Shaffer, an Army Reserve officer who served in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2004, concurred that the burning was "patently stupid" — not just because it's religiously insensitive but because the messages inside the Korans by detainees could have been used for intelligence purposes.
"These are all threads. These things are threads that can be used to build that tapestry of an intelligence picture," Shaffer said.
But Shaffer said for the U.S. government to repeatedly apologize for the incident is only helping the Taliban.
"They will use that to again flame their own fire," he said. "The more they apologize, the more it's going to inflame them."
This is part and parcel of how this administration has behaved abroad, and this kind of weakness has done us no good.
We are on the verge of a crisis with Iran, and U.S. citizens, including the son of a Cabinet member, are in effect being held hostage in Egypt, a country that receives $1.3 billion in U.S. aid, which this administration appears loath to end.
If a Republican were in the White House, the media would be counting days since the Egyptian hostage crisis began. But this crisis is almost under the radar.
Whatever happens, I don’t think that the Egyptians are very concerned about what President Obama will do.