Several conservative foreign policy and military experts have agreed with President Obama's decision to apologize to Afghanistan for the burning of Qurans by U.S. military personnel. Ignoring these experts, Fox News' conservative hosts and pundits have tried to flame outrage over Obama's apology.
Obama Apologized To Afghans For Quran Burning
AP: “President Barack Obama Apologized To Afghans ... For The Burning Of Qurans At A U.S. Military Base.” The Associated Press reported:
President Barack Obama apologized to Afghans on Thursday for the burning of Qurans at a U.S. military base, trying to assuage rising anti-American sentiment as an Afghan soldier gunned down two American troops during another day of angry protests.
The U.S.-led military coalition says the Muslim holy books were sent by mistake to a garbage burn pit at Bagram Air Field and the case is under investigation. [Associated Press, 2/24/12]
Even Conservative Foreign Policy And Military Experts Believe Obama Was “Absolutely” Right To Apologize
Former Pentagon Official And AEI Scholar Michael Rubin: Obama “Was Right To Apologize” For Quran Burning. From the February 25 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends Saturday:
DAVE BRIGGS (co-host): Should the president have apologized considering the fact that two Americans were killed in what appears to be retaliation and at least another this morning?
MICHAEL RUBIN: Well, I think the president should have apologized. This wasn't like bowing down to the Saudi king or apologizing to Iran, but the president didn't go far enough. More than 70 percent of the civilian casualties in Afghanistan are caused by the Taliban. The Taliban have bombed Mosques in which Qurans have been then burned. And so the president should have said “this is the real problem in Afghanistan” and gone on the offense.
BRIGGS: Now we should point out that this was a mistake. We were not intending to burn these Qurans. They were supposed to be disposed of in another way. It is also thought that in these Qurans were messages from extremists passing them to others. Charles Krauthammer on Special Report last night said this about the apology.
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER (video clip): This is a world in which nobody asked the Islamic Conference, the grouping of the 56 Islamic countries, to issue an apology when Christians are attacked and churches are burned in Egypt or in Pakistan. And have we heard a word from any Islamic leader anywhere about the radical Muslims in Nigeria, who not only are burning churches but burning women and children who are Christian in the churches? When I hear that I'll expect my president to start issuing an apology.
BRIGGS: Michael, your response to Charles.
RUBIN: Well, Charles is right in one aspect, but two wrongs don't make a right. I do think that the president was right to apologize, and when we look at Kabul, for example, the capital of Afghanistan, a city of 5 million people, the protesters have only managed to have a thousand people come out on the streets. That's pretty pitiful even by rent-a-mob standards. So, it seems that despite the radicals being fanned up by Iran and Pakistan and the Taliban, most of the Afghans have put this behind them and want to concentrate on something else. [Fox News, Fox & Friends Saturday, 2/25/12, via Media Matters]
Retired General Jack Keane Repeatedly Told Fox That Obama Was “Absolutely” Right To Apologize For Quran Burning. From the February 24 edition of Fox News' America Live:
MEGYN KELLY (host): General, I want to talk about the response to this because there is no question that burning the Quran in Afghanistan is a severe and very controversial thing. That's clear. But why did we apologize, and were we right to do so?
GENERAL JACK KEANE (Fox News military analyst): Oh yeah, absolutely. I mean, we made a boneheaded, insensitive mistake dealing with this significant holy book representing one of the great religions of the world. I mean, all the holy books represented in religions are very sensitive, but in -- the Quran is even more so for the Muslim people, so there's always going to be charged situation as a result of it.
And make no mistake. I mean, the political agendas in Afghanistan are complex. All those people you see on the street there demonstrating, they're not all just reacting viscerally to something that they feel insulted about. There's stakeholders here that are trying to undermine Karzai's government, there's stakeholders on the street trying to undermine the United States of America. The president is trying to give Karzai a tool to help him defuse the situation. That's what the apology's all about.
Yesterday, Karzai goes before the Parliament and asks all the parliamentarians to help him with the situation and quotes from the letter the president's statement. And obviously he's using the president of the United States as leverage to accomplish what he's doing. Karzai's not the strongest leader we've ever dealt with, quite the contrary; he's a very mercurial figure, and at times it drives us nuts, you know, trying to keep him in the box. But frankly he does need some help here and the president, that's what he's trying to do, help him. [Fox News, America Live, 2/24/12, via Media Matters]
- Keane Reiterated His Support For The Apology Two Days Later. Keane reiterated his support for Obama's decision to apologize on the February 26 edition of Fox News' America's News HQ. Keane said: “As it pertains to the president, I think his actions are appropriate. He knows Karzai has got a weak hand. He's just trying to strengthen it.” [Fox News, America's News HQ, 2/26/12, via Media Matters]
Conservative Foreign Policy Pundit Victor Davis Hanson: “It Is Unfair To Criticize Obama For Apologizing.” From a February 27 National Review Online post by conservative foreign policy pundit, Victor Davis Hanson, a senior fellow at Stanford University's Hoover Institution:
A final note. It is unfair to criticize Obama for apologizing; Bush did it on an occasion or two, given the worry over attacks on American lives in a world of instant communications. But it is very fair to remind him that the wages of bowing to the Saudis, apologizing abroad for various supposed long-ago American sins, and, in this case, having officials compete for the honor of “we're sorry” finally do come due. The war in Afghanistan is not just predicated on winning hearts and minds there, but winning them here too; obsequiousness abroad might in theory win a brief respite, but it will most certainly ensure that most Americans at home are so exasperated as to sigh, “I've got enough problems without trying to help people who prefer living in the 7th century.” [National Review Online, 2/27/12]
AEI Expert On Afghanistan Ahmad Majidyar: The U.S. Is Taking The Right Approach By Stressing The Sincerity Of Its Remorse. A FoxNews.com article reported that Ahmad Majidyar, a senior research associate with the American Enterprise Institute focusing on South Asia and the Middle East, stated that “the U.S. is taking the right approach by stressing the sincerity of its remorse.” From the article:
Ahmad Majidyar, senior research associate with the American Enterprise Institute, said the U.S. is taking the right approach by stressing the sincerity of its remorse. And he suggested the protests are not as widespread as they're made out to be.
“Many other people, they accepted the apology by the Americans ... and they're just moving on with their lives,” he said.
The test, Majidyar said, will be Friday sermons. Fiery sermons, he warned, could lead to more violence -- he urged the United States to go beyond apologies and make sure it's reaching out to all corners of Afghan society to calm down the backlash and avoid that outcome. [FoxNews.com, 2/23/12]
Heritage Foundation Expert On Afghanistan Lisa Curtis: Obama Dealt With Quran Burning “Appropriately.” The FoxNews.com article also reported that Lisa Curtis, a senior research fellow in the Asian Studies Center of the Heritage Foundation, said the Obama administration dealt with the Quran burning incident “appropriately,” and that Obama's apology was a “sincere demonstration of respect for the Afghan people and their religious sentiments.” From the article:
Lisa Curtis, a senior research fellow with the Heritage Foundation, also said in an email that the Obama administration dealt with the mistake “appropriately,” and described the president's letter as a “sincere demonstration of respect for the Afghan people and their religious sentiments.”
Going forward, she called on Karzai to try and calm the protests and “expose” the Taliban's role in “exploiting the situation.” [FoxNews.com, 2/23/12]
Furthermore, Obama's Reaction Is Perfectly Consistent With Precedent
Huffington Post: President Bush “Apologized To Iraq's Prime Minister For An American Sniper's Shooting Of A Quran.” A May 21, 2008, Huffington Post article reported:
President Bush has apologized to Iraq's prime minister for an American sniper's shooting of a Quran, and the Iraqi government called on U.S. military commanders to educate their soldiers to respect local religious beliefs.
Bush's spokeswoman said Tuesday that the president apologized during a videoconference Monday with Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who told the president that the shooting of Islam's holy book had disappointed and angered both the Iraqi people and their leaders.
“He apologized for that in the sense that he said that we take it very seriously,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said. “We are concerned about the reaction. We wanted them to know that the president knew that this was wrong.” [Huffington Post, 5/21/08]
But Fox Still Blasted Obama As “Weak” After Issuing Apology For Quran Burning
Karl Rove: Obama Has “Unnecessarily Apologized” And It “Show[ed] Weakness” On Behalf Of The U.S. From the February 27 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
SEAN HANNITY (host): The contraceptive controversy, gas prices now going through the roof, no end in sight, and then we've got this apology to Karzai by the president of the United States. Meanwhile, we -- I think we ought to be demanding an apology for dead Americans and injured Americans as a result of all this, and I wanted to get your reaction to how the president, how the White House is handling all of this stuff.
KARL ROVE (Fox News contributor): The president has, I think, unnecessarily apologized, you know, abjectly apologized to the Afghan government for this. And look, it was a mistake, but we made it worse by showing weakness and we've already shown plenty of weakness in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the globe because of this guy. [Fox News, Hannity, 2/27/12, via Media Matters]
Fox's Kimberly Guilfoyle: Obama's Apology Was “Irresponsible And Unnecessary.” From the February 27 edition of Fox News' The Five:
KIMBERLY GUILFOYLE (co-host): I feel very strongly about this, I think what the president did was irresponsible and unnecessary. I have no idea why we are apologizing to terrorists. Already these Qurans were desecrated. This was also inadvertent, everybody knows that, they didn't specifically go to be disrespectful to someone's religion, they were trying to properly dispose things that were given to them.
So the fact -- now who's apologizing to us for the Americans that have been killed. I find this to be really dangerous what we're doing here. The apology, constantly bending over backwards for things that we haven't even done that are wrong. That's the problem here, and why is our president doing this on our behalf, why is he putting out troops in danger and at risk by undercutting the military in terms of the support that we need there, for the people that are over there fighting to protect us against these terrorists? It's really irresponsible. [Fox News, The Five, 2/27/12, via Media Matters]
Fox's Michael Goodwin: “Not Necessary” For Obama To Apologize For “Something Some Soldiers Did.” During a Fox & Friends appearance, Fox News contributor and New York Post columnist Michael Goodwin said:
GOODWIN: I think the apology was a mistake for two reasons. Basically, the president doesn't have to get involved on this level. There's not -- not necessary for the president of the United States to apologize because something some soldiers did in Afghanistan. This is not murder.
They didn't mow down a village. This is no My Lai massacre or anything like that. This is a simple mistake. And I think for the president to apologize elevates it. He also talks about holding those accountable. I mean, this is silly. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 2/27/12, via Media Matters]
Fox's Mike Gallagher: It's “Outrageous” For Obama “To Go Crawling To Karzai” And Say “We're Sorry.” During an appearance on America Live, Fox News contributor Mike Gallagher chastised Obama as “this apologist president” and said:
GALLAGHER: No one is justifying, by the way the burning of the Quran. Nobody's defending that. I'm certainly not going to, but ultimately for President Obama to go crawling to Karzai and say, “we're sorry that this Quran was burned,” where is the apology from the Afghan president? Where is any apology for the death of these Americans? It's outrageous. [Fox News, America Live, 2/24/12, via Media Matters]