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Oliver North
Oliver North
2 May 2013
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Another Apology -- Another Disaster


WASHINGTON — On Feb. 20, a NATO-Afghan security team at the Parwan Detention Center — adjacent to the U.S.-run Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul — began destroying files, books and documents from the detention facility library. The printed material was being burned because it contained handwritten coded messages being passed among Taliban and al-Qaida detainees. Afghan security personnel retrieved charred pages from several copies of the Quran and other Islamic holy texts. The following day, angry crowds rioted outside NATO installations in Kabul and elsewhere around Afghanistan.

On Feb. 23, White House spokesman Jay Carney announced that President Barack Obama, America's apologist-in-chief, had written a penitent letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai in which Obama pledged to "take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, to include holding accountable those responsible." Karzai responded by insisting that the American soldiers responsible for this act be put on public trial and punished. It's been downhill in Afghanistan ever since.

Within hours of the presidential apology, two U.S. soldiers were dead — killed by their Afghan counterparts. In an effort to justify Obama's act of contrition, the White House claimed the apology was "wholly appropriate" given the "understandable sensitivities" regarding Islam's holy book — but never bothered to point out that writing in a Quran is forbidden by Islamic teaching. (The burned pages also had been written in.)

That night, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich condemned the Obama apology as "an outrage." In a written statement issued by his campaign, the former House speaker said: "It is Hamid Karzai who owes the American people an apology, not the other way around. 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."

The Obama administration demurred and defended its abject appeasement. Carney said that Obama's "primary concern as commander in chief is the safety of American men and women in Afghanistan." He added that the apology "was absolutely the right thing to do." The statement did nothing to defuse the violence. Two more Americans died within 48 hours at the Interior Ministry — shot execution-style in one of the most secure facilities in Kabul.

On Feb.

27, after a suicide bomber attacked the International Security Assistance Force base at Jalalabad — killing nine and wounding more than a dozen Afghan security guards and civilians — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton went even further, castigating Republicans for their criticism during an interview carried on CNN International. In an apparent effort to deflect blame for the escalating violence, Clinton said, "I find it somewhat troubling that our politics would enflame such a dangerous situation in Afghanistan." And just to make sure everyone rioting in Kabul got the message, she asserted that our president is "on record saying (that) this was not intentional (and that) we deeply regret it, and now we are hoping that voices inside Afghanistan will join that of President Karzai and others in speaking out and trying to calm the situation. It is deeply regrettable, but now it is out of hand, and it needs to stop." It didn't. Instead, it got worse.

Despite the escalating violence, Obama insists his apology has "calmed things down" — a claim he made in an interview aired on ABC News on Feb. 29. The following day, two more American soldiers were killed by their Afghan national security force counterparts in Kandahar.

The O-Team's appallingly apologetic approach to American diplomacy has undoubtedly exacerbated an already bad situation. And now the United Nations has joined the chorus of criticism against the U.S.-led military coalition. On March 1, after the murders in Kandahar, Jan Kubis, the U.N.'s special representative in Afghanistan, told reporters: "We were very hurt that the international military allowed the desecration of the Quran. We rejected and condemned this act. It doesn't matter that it was a mistake."

And just to make sure we all know the Obama mea culpa isn't all that's needed, Kubis said, "After the first step of a profound apology, there must be a second step, of disciplinary action. Only after this, after disciplinary action, can the international forces say, 'Yes, we're sincere in our apology.'"

This egregious affront from the U.N. has been invited by Obama's incessant apologies for who we are and the hope we offer others. America's head of state ought to be a leader who is unashamed of what we have done for the rest of the world. Let's be thankful that we have a chance to hire a new one in November.

Oliver North is the host of "War Stories" on Fox News Channel, the founder and honorary chairman of Freedom Alliance, and the author of "American Heroes in Special Operations." To find out more about Oliver North and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



2 Comments | Post Comment
Mr. North,
The obvious lesson in this mess is that we are trying to establish a 21st century democracy in an 11th century nation. Ten years of blood and treasure and the nation turns on us in an instant over a stupid error on the part of a few at a military base? Can you imagine even the most right wing religious Christians in our nation going around killing folks over a perceived religious slight by another party distantly related to the offender? Or even killing the offender? The artist who created the piece with a crucifix in urine did not have to assume another identity to survive. No, these are the actions of people enjoying an 11th century view of the world and there is little we can do to change it.
We had a chance to make a difference in Afghanistan in the first couple of years after we took down the evil Taliban government. If we had put major effort into establishing a government of the people with major sanctions for corruption at any level, we could have had a chance of success. This would have required a huge commitment of troops on the ground. Instead, the foolish little man from Texas decided to commit our nation's blood and treasure into an illegal war of aggression in Iraq, possibly to avenge the attempt on President H. W. Bush's life. (11 century thinking in the White House?) Of course, the foolish little man did not get there by himself. He had lots of cheerleaders, (including, as I recall, you, Mr. North) who supported him in his fantasy that we could create any reality that we wanted on the ground in Iraq. While we fiddled, the efforts in Afghanistan fell apart.
Exactly how should we proceed from here? The big plan is to wind down our military involvement and continue on in an adviser role. That is a bit difficult if the natives are murdering the advisers in even the most secure facilities. Mr. North, would you volunteer to hang out as an adviser under such circumstances? Perhaps it is time for you to re-evaluate your own blind support for this fiasco. Among the interesting questions to ask is, exactly, why we are there. Some would point out that Afghanistan is the route that a pipe to carry oil from Kazakhstan to world markets while bypassing Russia would need to take, but that would be clinical... We would not send our troops to die for oil...
And, speaking of 11 century thinking, Mr. North, this is now your 24st column since "don't ask, don't tell" ended and there still appears to be no crisis of retention or recruitment in the military, as predicted in your last "sky is falling" squawk on this subject. Mr. North, will you ever have the courage and personal integrity to admit that your column predicting disaster in this matter was just political theater? Aren't you happy to report that the men and women serving in our military are more dedicated and professional than you, apparently, could imagine? Or is it simply that your corporate masters at Fox "News" demand that you avoid this truth as the price of playing in their sand box?
Comment: #1
Posted by: Mark
Fri Mar 2, 2012 9:56 AM
The Cintons will never win me over, but Obama seems sincere in his domestic policies, so I favor him for that. I would like to see more demands by the President and by the UN that Muslim leaders condemn any terrorist who blows up people of different religions. Not only are terrorist acts religiously wrong, and the Muslims that do them go to Hell, but such acts are stupid. We need the Muslim leaders of all countries to speak up strongly against such ignorant acts. They need to understand that by their own faith such acts are wrong and the perpetrators will be serving Satan not Allah.
Comment: #2
Posted by: Mike Hayne
Sun Mar 4, 2012 3:29 PM
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