Was the president’s apology appropriate?

Published 8:31 am Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The killing of American soldiers in Afghanistan this past week, has saddened me and brings up a very important question. What are we accomplishing in that country?

It’s hard to get all the information surrounding the incident, but it seems that Afghan prisoners were passing coded messages to each other and to the outside by writing in the Koran, their most holy book. The act of writing in the Koran is not to be compared with you or me underlining or writing notes in our Bibles.

Islamic law is such that writing on the pages of the Koran is a capital offense in Afghanistan. It is not a capital offense everywhere within Islam, but it is in some nations, one of which is Afghanistan. In addition, the proper mode of disposal of the Koran once it has been defiled, such as writing on its pages, is by burning. It is not to be thrown into a heap of trash or recycled. Burning or burying in a respectful manner is proper.

Let me simply say that I believe that anyone’s holy book should be respected. I know that I write in my Bible and try to keep the dust off of it. I think it is worthy of great respect and I would not want anyone spitting on it, stepping on it, cursing over it or burning it.

At the same time, if someone did any of those things, I would not shoot them! Plus, I do not think the American people would riot in the streets because of Bible-burning. Nor should they. My Bible is clear, vengeance is for God.

That does not seem to be the attitude of the country for which we have given almost 2,000 of our precious children. Not to be compared with the loss of life, but we have also spent a half trillion dollars. I’ve never really liked the phrase “blood and treasure,” but we have given much to that country and it doesn’t seem to appreciate our sacrifices.

When we found out that some prisoners had been using the Koran for purposes that would aid our enemies, we confiscated the holy books. Then we burned them. That seems to be in line with Islamic law, as I mentioned above, but we might not know every nuance within that theological law.

I would suspect that our soldiers have enough to worry about, like staying alive. They have their specific duties to accomplish and it would be asking too much for them to understand a faith that is not so common in our country. In burning the contraband, as a defiled Koran might be known, they could be forgiven if they made an accidental mistake.

President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan has conceded that the acts were “not deliberate.” He says they were acts of “ignorance and lack of knowledge” on behalf of the U.S. military officer. He went on to say that the “sensitiveness” of the Afghan people “is right and is laudable.”

Karzai also called “on the U.S. government to bring the perpetrators of the act to justice and put them on trial and punish them.” It’s good to know that the future of the nation that we have spent plenty of blood and treasure to re-build is going to be one that understands that non-deliberate, accidental mistakes should be punished with no sympathy.

Meanwhile, the accidental and ignorant mistake of the U.S. military was followed by some very intentional actions. Let me expound.

It seems that two American officers, one thought to be a colonel and the other a major, were in an office of the Interior Ministry of the great country of Afghanistan. They were advisors. After the Koran burning incident, rioting occurred and these two officers were found shot in the back of their heads. I usually associate that modus operandi with an execution.

In addition to those two American officials, there was the very deliberate killing of two other American troops by an Afghan soldier in solidarity with the protesting crowds. All told, the number of deaths has reached almost 40. Some of those deaths could have been “accidental.”

In light of this action, the President of the United States has apologized. In addition, the military leadership also apologized. So far, President Karzai has not formally accepted our President’s apology and, instead, has asked for “justice and punishment for those who have done this act.”

Since the Afghanis don’t seem to appreciate the United States’ formal apology, perhaps they will accept mine as follows: “Dear President Karzai, I’m sorry. I’m sorry that the Russians were not more successful in the 1980’s when they invaded your precious country. I’m sorry that they left those mountains and did not completely level your land as they tried to bomb you back into the Stone Age. I’m sorry that we spent one penny on your country, trying to save you from those wonderful Taliban friends.

“Perhaps now, they will feel like returning. I am most contrite that I wasn’t able to hang around and say good-bye, but, quite frankly, the stench was getting to me. Last, but not least, I am most apologetic for the tremendous vacuum that resulted from my country leaving so quickly and I hope you and your family can find another source of graft.

“Now, if things start to go downhill, don’t call me. I’m sorry, I won’t be answering your call.”