Earlier this week, on Monday, February 20, 2012, US troops in Afghanistan burned copies of the Koran. They were burned in a garbage pit which added insult to injury as far as the Afghan people went. This sacred, holy book of people who hold the Islamic faith was a huge insult to the Afghan people. There have been conflicting reports as to why and how the Koran books were burned. It was however witnessed and went on to inflame a sensitive situation.
Yesterday, Thursday February 23, 2012, US President Obama offered a sincere apology to the Afghan President Hamid Karzai. Prior to this a senior US military official had also expressed his profound apologies.
In the days following the burnings of the Koran violence ensued. Today violent protests are still happening in Afghanistan. 4,000 people, armed with what ever means possible, mainly rocks and sticks, have stormed the military base in Kabul. A huge police and military presence has kept the area locked down. It is however Friday afternoon, a time when traditionally violence spills out onto the streets following Friday prayers.
Yesterday a man dressed in an Afghan army uniform shot and killed two US soldiers. Seven members of the Afghan population are reported to have been killed, plus many more injured, in running battles with the authorities. The skirmishes have not been confined to Kabul.
GOP hopeful Newt Gingrich has jumped on the bandwagon sensing an opportunity to perhaps appeal to the US voting public and attack Democratic President Obama. Gingrich is plainly appalled that Obama felt a need to apologise and that Obama actually went on record doing so. Of course the President will have followed the advice of others including military leaders.
So what would Gingrich have done, had he been President of the US?
He has maintained that he would have demanded an apology from Afghan President Hamid Karzi for the US military shootings.If only life were that simple.
You have to ask a few questions first such as :
-What caused this commotion?
-Who was responsible for the trouble breaking out?
-Have US troops been thoroughly trained about the culture and beliefs of the Afghan people?
-Will Obama's apology help ease the situation and protect US forces from more harm?
Gingrich said of the incident and the apology, in true electioneering style, "There seems to be nothing that radical Islamists can do to get Barack Obama's attention in a negative way and he is consistently apologizing to people who do not deserve the apology of the president of the United States period. And, candidly, if Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, doesn't feel like apologizing then we should say good bye and good luck, we don't need to be here risking our lives and wasting our money on somebody who doesn't care."
Gingrich went on to say that President Obama was failing in his role as Commander in Chief. Expecting an outcry a White House official pre empted Gingrich saying, "It is wholly appropriate, given the sensitivities to this issue, the understandable sensitivities. His primary concern as commander in chief is the safety of the American men and women in Afghanistan, of our military and civilian personnel there. And it was absolutely the right thing to do."
Sounds to me as if it was the most sensible course of action. The US troops are in Afghanistan thanks to a Republican President. You can argue the toss about why he was forced into making the decision to go to war but the fact that it was George Bush who took the US into Afghanistan is irrefutable.Gingrich's spiel and bravado may carry weight with GOP supporters but it will not do so with all.
What would he have done if he were President? Of course all of this just shows why he is not up to that job and never will be US President.
Eileen Kersey manages TEK Staff Blog