Skip to 3:30 for the key bit. I actually like this answer, even though the “calmed things down” bit is nonsense in the same way that the infamous “jobs created or saved” metric for the stimulus was. There’s no way to tell what would have happened without O’s apology. In fact, the riots went on for several more days after it was made public on February 23, punctuated by the murders of two U.S. officers inside the Interior Ministry in Kabul on Saturday, February 25. Would things have been worse if “only” Gen. Allen had said sorry? Who knows? But as I say, I like his answer — not for what it includes but for what it doesn’t. There’s no pretense here of being truly sorry for having offended Afghans’ cultural sensibilities or of apologizing because it’s the righteous thing to do. When asked, he says he did it to save lives, full stop. It was a means to an end. This is as close as we’re apt to get to an admission by O or his diplomatic deputies of the point I made yesterday, that the fulsome respect paid when Islam is insulted in a high-profile way has little to do with genuine sensitivity and everything to do with managing the death toll. If we’re going to have a global double standard on blasphemy, let’s at least be honest as to why. He’s a little more honest here than western politicians usually are. Now let’s see what he does on the not one, not two, but three separate investigations of the Koran-burning that are currently ongoing in Afghanistan. If the news reports of what happened are correctly, the guys who burned them are probably guilty of nothing worse than some form of negligence. How severely will they be scapegoated beyond that? Given that “sensitivity” now requires barring all non-Muslim U.S. troops from requesting a copy of the Koran from their military chaplain, I’m not optimistic.
If you have the stomach for it, go watch Scott Pelley put Gen. Allen and Ryan Crocker through the wringer for 11 minutes on Koran-gate. Since I lack the stomach, I’m not embedding it here. Exit question via Blackfive: