Good question. I wonder which tack the inevitable sneering reply from her critics will take. Will it be that Afghans are perfectly entitled to value a copy of the Koran over the lives of two allied soldiers because that’s their culture, QED? Or will it be that, as occupiers, we deserve every bad thing that’s coming to us without apology, even by the guy whom we’ve been propping up for 10 years?
Has Karzai apologized yet, incidentally? I checked his website, where the announcement of Obama’s apology is prominently displayed, but found only a statement of regret about the civilians killed in the rampage plus some news about the delegations he’s putting together to get to the bottom of an accidental book-burning. Quote from the last link: “NATO officials promised to meet Afghan nation’s demand of bringing to justice, through an open trial, those responsible for the incident and it was agreed that the perpetrators of the crime be brought to justice as soon as possible.” I’m mighty keen to see what NATO regards as a proper penalty for inadvertently torching a bunch of Korans that Bagram detainees were using to exchange jihadist messages. Everyone there is trained in “cultural sensitivity” so there’s potentially some sort of negligence charge pending. Is a wrist slap for negligence enough to calm a mob in a frenzy?
Another good question: At what point do the endless groveling apologies become counterproductive?
“It just feeds the sense of grievance,” Nina Shea, a senior fellow with the Hudson Institute, said of the “constant round of apologies.”
Shea, who sits on the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, agreed with the U.S. decision to quickly apologize after the incident late Monday and order an investigation.
But she noted that the subsequent apologies “don’t seem to have any effect.”…
[Lt. Col. Tony] Shaffer said for the U.S. government to repeatedly apologize for the incident is only helping the Taliban.
“They will use that to again flame their own fire,” he said. “The more they apologize, the more it’s going to inflame them.”
At a time when the U.S. is trying to engage elements of the Taliban in peace talks, Shaffer said the apologies just strengthen the Taliban’s negotiating position.
Shaffer and Shea said the U.S. should be urging Taliban officials who want to play ball in the broader talks to call off the protests to the extent they can.
Jay Carney added a Romney-esque flourish by offering his own “severe apologies” during a White House gaggle this afternoon. He’d better be prepared to ramp up the adjectives tomorrow: Friday is, after all, the day of prayers, so if you think the uproar is insane now, wait until demonstrators reconvene after a morning of sermons about how demonic America is. Exit quotation from Eli Lake: “It would be nice if just once Afghans would protest how the Taliban kills innocents and sells drugs.”
Update: Gingrich chimes in:
“It is an outrage that President Obama is the one apologizing to Afghan President Karzai on the same day two American troops were murdered and four others injured by an Afghan soldier. It is Hamid Karzai who owes the American people an apology, not the other way around.”
Gingrich added, “This destructive double standard whereby the United States and its democratic allies refuse to hold accountable leaders who tolerate systematic violence and oppression in their borders must come to an end.”