Friday, February 24, 2012

Obama correct to apologize, Gingrich offensive to score cheap political points on the backs of two dead US servicemen...

Obama correct to apologize, Gingrich offensive to score cheap political points on the backs of two dead US servicemen...

You've probably seen the story in the news over the last few days. Some local Afghanistan villages found some incinerated Koran's in a garbage dumpheap outside Bagram Air Force Base. They bring this to the attention of their fellow villagers and soon word spreads all around the region and eventually, the world. The local US Commander on the ground apologized shortly after he was made aware of this. Yesterday, President Obama included this apology within a longer letter covering a variety of issues: 

I wish to express my deep regret for the reported incident,’’ Obama said in a letter to President Hamid Karzai. “I extend to you and the Afghan people my sincere apologies.’’ “The error was inadvertent,’’ Obama said. “I assure you that we will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, to include holding accountable those responsible.’’

Sometime after this apology was hand delivered to President Karzai, an Afghanistan soldier opened fire on a group of American soldiers, killing two of them. Today marks the fourth day of protests against the United States for the burning, and several Afghan protesters have also been killed, by members of the Afghan Army as a result. President Karzai has called for peaceful demonstrations and to avoid violence. There is concern that the more Conservative Mullahs may call for retribution during Friday's Prayers and the Taliban has posted statements on its website instructing that attacks on US Military bases, US Convoys as well as other occupying forces. 

It is a mess. 

Coming on the heels of video that showed US soldiers urinating on the corpses of dead Taliban fighters, plus the not too distant memories of the treatment at the Abu Ghraib detention facility, the flushing of Korans in to toilets at the Guantanamo Facility in Cuba, as well as American pastor Fred Phelps wanting to hold a "burn the Koran day,"  its easy to understand that nerves are a little raw. Is it difficult to feel their sense of disrespect? It shouldn't be. 

Then yesterday, flailing GOP candidate Newt Gingrich felt the need to capitalize on these events to score some cheap political points. Keep in mind, the two Americans were gunned down after Obama sent the apology. Gingrich said, "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.

These weren't radical Islamists. They were highly offended and enraged regular Afghanis who once again felt the "occupiers" had defiled their most sacred text. Had we not bungled the handling of such sensitive religious materials, those two US servicemen would likely be alive today. This is not to excuse their murder, not at all, but understand, we set this in motion. 

It offends me on a deep level that a man who is not a political novice would stoop to such a level to score a few cheap political points on the backs of two dead soldiers. This may be red meat to the Conservative base, but its wrong-minded and dangerous in my opinion. Gingrich loves to wrap himself in the flag and the bible when it suits him politically. Too bad he doesn't conduct himself with such rigor when it comes to his professional or private life.

This notion that we shouldn't have apologized is also wrong and frankly, against most American values. As children, we are taught personal responsibility and to accept blame when we have wronged someone else. Traditionally, its always been more about what we do as opposed to what someone else does. "Do the right thing" we're told. Don't make excuses. Don't worry what the other guy does or doesn't do, YOU do the right thing, handle it the RIGHT way and walk away with your head held high with a resolve to not repeat the same mistake again. These ideas are central to many of our upbringings here in America. They are good values. 

I say President Obama was entirely proper to issue an apology as were the unit Commander, Sec. of Defense Leon Pannetta who said, "I apologize to the Afghan people and disapprove of such conduct in the strongest possible terms. These actions do not represent the views of the U.S. military," and General John Allen, International Security Force Commander and Assistant Sec. of  Def. Ashton Carter who also both apologized to President Karzai. 

For too long, the US has strolled smugly around the world sticking its nose in situations, economies and other societies where they should not have. It is refreshing to find a President of the United States who has enough character, enough integrity and enough spine to issue mea culpa's when called for. His opponents call him weak, including his likely challenger in the General Election former Governor Mitt Romney who has said, "he'd never apologize for the United States." 

We all know someone who no matter the circumstances never apologizes, don't we? We've been "that guy" around the world for a long time. Finally, we have a POTUS who has enough balls to reach out and say we're sorry when we screw up. 

To Mr. Gingrich, I'd say sit your flabby fat-ass down somewhere, be quiet and figure out your next career move. 


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