U.S. President Barack Obama has apologized to Afghans 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. The explanation and multiple apologies from U.S. officials have yet to calm outrage over the incident, which has also heightened tension between international troops and their Afghan partners.
On Thursday, thousands of protesters, some shouting “Long live Islam!” and “Death to America!” staged demonstrations across Afghanistan for a third day. Protesters climbed the walls of a U.S. base in the east, threw stones inside and adorned an outside wall with the Taliban’s trademark white flag.
Let’s get a grip. The President of the United States apologized to a bunch of 7th century tribesmen who are shooting our soldiers because someone accidentally burned their holy book?
Does that make you feel like we are a great power or what?
With all of the cultural sensitivity training that our officers and troops are undergoing, how did they leave out the fact that their objective is to humiliate their enemies, and that the more we grovel, the more they succeed? And the more they are encouraged?
How much study of the Pashtun (and a great deal of other Muslim) culture does it take for us to understand that weakness invites attack, and apologies, offers of compromise, payoffs, etc. are signs of weakness?
They may be primitive, but they aren’t stupid and they are good tacticians. They understand that our idiotic need to be sensitive to their culture is a weak spot, and they are concentrating their forces there, as good tacticians do.
What we need to do is explain to them in words and deeds that our culture is superior to theirs, because we can kill them much more effectively if we want to than they can kill us. And because we have a superior (that is, more deadly and terrifying) nature than they do, we can bloody well burn any books that we want.
I am not saying that this is my definition of a superior culture. Our culture is superior in many other, more subtle, ways, but they don’t care about these.
They don’t appreciate Christian magnanimity or Jewish compromises. These breed contempt, not admiration. The bottom line for most of the Middle East is power, and the ruthless application thereof.
President Obama seems to want the US to be liked, particularly by Muslims. This is not achievable, and the result of his attempts to bring it about make him a fool that is easily manipulated. Compare Obama’s reputation to that of, say, Vladimir Putin.
This same mistake is being made on different levels in our relations with Iran, Turkey, Egypt and probably other places.
In the Middle East, it’s not just more effective to be feared than to be liked — it’s essential.