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Obama Sends Apology To Afghan President Over Koran Burning

After several days of protests sparked by the burning of several copies of the Koran by American soldiers, capped off today by an incident that resulted in the deaths of two soldiers, President Obama has sent a letter of apology to Afghan President Hamid Karzai:

KABUL, Afghanistan — President Obama apologized on Thursday for the burning of Korans at the largest American base in Afghanistan earlier this week as furious protests raged for a third day and a man wearing Afghan Army uniform turned his weapon on coalition soldiers, killing two of them.

“I wish to express my deep regret for the reported incident,” Mr. Obama said in a letter to President Hamid Karzai. “I extend to you and the Afghan people my sincere apologies.”

The letter was handed to Mr. Karzai by the American ambassador to Afghanistan, Ryan C. Crocker, on Thursday afternoon in Kabul.

The acting spokesman for the American Embassy in Kabul, Mark Thornburg, confirmed that the letter had been hand delivered by Mr. Crocker to Mr. Karzai.

“The error was inadvertent,” Mr. Obama said. “I assure you that we will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, to include holding accountable those responsible.”

The letter, an apparent attempt to quell the ferocity of the protests, followed a third day of angry demonstrations across Afghanistan in which another six Afghans were killed and at least 55 wounded, according to Afghan officials.

This move will no doubt be criticized by many on the right who have spent the last three years claiming that the President has gone around the world apologizing for America, an assertion that is demonstrably false. In this case, though, it strikes me that the President’s move here was the correct one. The Koran burning was clearly a mistake, but it has obviously inflamed an already tense situation and, now, it is endangering Americans. If this move can help to calm the situation down, then it will have been worth it.

Photo via The Washington Post

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Rob in CT says:

    Sometimes, apologizing really is the right approach (not that I think it will do all that much good – our “mission” in Afghanistan is hopeless).

    Note: apologizing for a specific thing != apologizing “for America.” Not that the wingnuts will care.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 3

  2. John Peabody says:

    Agreed. Apoligizing is quite correct. It’s the starting point for anything else.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  3. Gromitt Gunn says:

    It’s the right thing to do given the situation on the ground. Next, let’s get the heck out of Dodge.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  4. Apologizing is the right thing to do, although it’s a shame we had to apologize to Karzai specifically. He’s been fanning the flames of anti-Americanism for domestic political purposes for some time now, so he bears as much responsibility for the riot deaths as we do.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  5. Hey Norm says:

    Talk about swallowing a bitter f’ing pill in order to do the right thing….

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 1

  6. anjin-san says:

    Neville Chamberlain! Jimmy Carter! The Easter Bunny!!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  7. Rob in CT says:

    Cats and Dogs living together! Mass Hysteria!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  8. Jenos Idanian says:

    So… Islamist radicals desecrate Korans by writing in them. Our guys discover the desecration, look into the proper way to deal with it, and discover that the Korans should be burned. So we burn the desecrated (by radical Islamists) Korans, in accordance with Islamic tradition.

    Yeah, we definitely need to apologize for this.

    This is even stupider than the “Koran flushed down the toilet” lie that Newsweek passed along that led to Muslim riots that got people killed. Or the Mohammed cartoons that led to Muslim riots that got people killed.

    Anyone else sensing a pattern here?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  9. mattb says:

    @Jenos Idanian:

    Our guys discover the desecration, look into the proper way to deal with it, and discover that the Korans should be burned. So we burn the desecrated (by radical Islamists) Korans, in accordance with Islamic tradition.

    As pointed out in another thread, there are multiple ways to burn things.

    Pitching Koran’s into an incinerator is not keeping with Islamic tradition, in the same general way that burning a flag in protest isn’t a proper way to dispose of it (even though one can respectfully burn a damaged flag).

    Of course, you’ve never actually been one to sweat the facts when they get in the way of a tired polemic. It’s so nice to have you back.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  10. mattb says:

    BTW, I find it amazing that conservative radio have not completely exploded with glee and “told you so’s” now that Obama has finally actually apologized to a Muslim.

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  11. Carson says:

    “Release the Kraken”

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  12. Jenos Idanian says:

    @mattb: Well said. Now explain why the rioting Muslims aren’t upset over the initial desecration of the Korans by the Islamists.

    I’m trying to recall the last time an Islamist was actually denounced and held accountable by the “mainstream” Muslims — you know, the peace-loving, tolerant, accepting Muslims of “the religion of peace” we keep hearing about.

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  13. anjin-san says:

    Jenos Idanian

    To quote a great American… “It’s true. This man has no dick.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  14. Lomax says:

    @Gromitt Gunn: I am not sure about any apology; I would say “h_ _ _ no!”, but as far as getting out now, absolutely. There are good people there, but they don’t care for other countries coming in.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  15. mattb says:

    @Jenos Idanian: If I thought there was even the remotest chance of you taking that explanation seriously, then I would take the time for a response.

    But given that your not interested in actually considering facts on anything to do with, say, Islam, it’s really not worth spending the time.

    But if I was spending the time, I’d suggest visiting for a start the CAIR website, who press section features a rather high number of condemnations for terrorist acts. Of course, you would probably respond with (a) they’re a hate/terrorist front group so they don’t count OR (b) well they didn’t respond to this particular attack OR (c) OK that’s one example, but where are others OR (d) all of the above.

    In other words, any evidence I offer isn’t going to ever shake your unshakable world view that you are right and Muslims are evil/bad.

    Welcome to bigotsville, population: you.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  16. Justin says:

    You guys are kidding me right? It was NATO that burned the Koran because inmates were using it as a way to pass messages…and the Afghans response is to riot,kill people and turn their guns on coalition soldiers???!! Yeah we should apologize for that, what a f***** joke. Hey did you hear about the converted minister in Iran who converted to Christianity from Islam, he’s been sentenced to death, where is the outrage in that??? Is anybody going to send his family an apology letter? If this continues the country will continue to go down the drain, I think everyone who voted for Obama should write the rest of us an apology letter. ..embarassing

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  17. Jenos Idanian says:

    @mattb: In other words, any evidence I offer isn’t going to ever shake your unshakable world view that you are right and Muslims are evil/bad.

    No, because that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that the numbers of evil deeds done in this world are disproportionately by self-professed Muslims, in the name of Islam, with very specific citations from the Koran and the hadiths to rationalize them.

    Here, people are killing people because a couple of books got treated in a less than utterly respectful manner.

    Previously, a false report that a book was flushed down a toilet led to people killing people.

    And before that, cartoons led to people killing people.

    In Iran, a man is about to be executed for the “crime” of saying “You know what? I don’t wanna be a Muslim, I’d rather be a Christian.”

    You cite CAIR. CAIR has a lengthy history of supporting terrorists, the biggest example of which is their role in the Holy Land Foundation.

    You wanna explain how that ISN’T “evil?” Please, enlighten me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  18. An Interested Party says:

    No, because that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying that the numbers of evil deeds done in this world are disproportionately by self-professed Muslims, in the name of Islam, with very specific citations from the Koran and the hadiths to rationalize them.

    Yes of course…that is why we should smear an entire religion as well as its 1.5 billion adherents…

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  19. Nevin says:

    I don’t have a problem with an apology – as long as it is attached to a drone

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  20. Jenos Idanian says:

    @An Interested Party: Since when, exactly, did “telling the truth” become “smearing?”

    I note you blipped right over my examples. I guess they counted as “smears,” too?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  21. grumpy realist says:

    I look at it as pragmatism. If an apology manages to save the life of one soldier while we get the hell out of there, it’s worth it.

    Janos, you can beat your chest all you want, but you’re not the person who has to write the letters to the families of the soldiers killed because of this. You have never had to knock on their door, never had to tell them: I’m sorry, your son/daughter/husband/wife was killed today because I was too macho to make an apology.

    And if you think that the “image” that America presents to the world is worth more than those soldiers’ lives, then God help you.

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  22. EBL says:

    http://evilbloggerlady.blogspot.com/2012/02/hypocrisy-thy-name-is-islamic-outrage.html We are encouraging this sort of behavior by not denouncing it. The Koran burning was inadvertent and not intended as any sort of slander to Islam. The reaction is over the top, hypocritical, and criminal.

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