Santorum: Obama showed weakness for apologizing over Quran burnings

 

Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum

Republican presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum appeared on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos earlier today and said that President Obama’s apology for the burning of Qurans was a mistake and demonstrates the president’s “weakness.”

 Santorum said President Obama shouldn’t have said he is sorry but only acknowledged that burning the Qurans were wrong. The Quran burning incident at the U.S. Bagram Air Force Base in Afghanistan has ignited riots throughout the devoutly Muslim country, resulting in 30 deaths, including 4 Americans killed from the military.
 
“There was nothing deliberately done wrong here. This was something that happened as a mistake” he said. “Killing Americans in uniform is not a mistake” Santorm emphasized. “Say its unfortunate…but to apologize for something was not an intentional act is something that the president of the United States in my opinion should not have done” Santorum said.
 
Santorum later reported, “I think it shows weakness.”
 
Afghan Defense Minister Abdul Rahim Wardak spoke on the phone with Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Saturday and apologized for the killing of Americans, the Pentagon reported.
 
To Obama’s credit, Santorum admitted that he does commend the president for his commitment of troops in the counterinsurgency mission in Afghanistan.
 
Mitt Romney spoke on Fox News Sunday and weighed in on Obama’s apology to Afghan President Hamid Karzai. “I think for a lot of people, it sticks in their throat” Romney said.

“The idea that we are there, having lost thousands of individuals through casualty and death…… we have made an enormous contribution to help the people there achieve freedom, and for us to be apologizing at a time like this is something which is very difficult for the American people to countenance” Romney explained.

Republican presidential candidate and former speaker Newt Gingrich used Twitter to condemn Obama’s letter to Karzai, saying: “It is an outrage that on the day an Afghan soldier murders two American troops, President Obama is the one apologizing.”

Three of the four Republican candidates have all recently condemned President Obama in various different ways for apologizing to President Karzai over the burning of copies of the Quran at the U.S. Bagram Air Force Base.

Yet the decision by President Obama to apologize to President Karzai for the burnings…..even if it was not intentional is a real sign of humility and strength, in sharp contrast to the Republican candidates’ opinions.

Regardless of one’s political or religious standpoint, Obama’s apology to President Karzai was the right decision to make as a statesman and leader of the United States. His courageous decision to apologize possibly saved even more U.S. lives in Afghanistan and lowered the level of anger directed at the United States.

Burning Qurans on Afghan soil by a foreign military that is often portrayed however rightly or wrongly as opposed to Islam is highly offensive. The Quran is a revered spiritual book that has provided the religious and political foundation for Afghanistan for hundreds of years. 

On a comparison basis, the Quran is like the Bible and American constitution being joined together. If an Afghan military attempted to burn the Bible and Constitution together on American soil, the incident would likely cause an outrage across America.

It is surprising that leaders in the U.S. military completely failed to recognize that burning Qurans might be portrayed by Afghans as highly offensive and provocative, especially knowing that the U.S. has been involved in past military conflicts in Middle Eastern countries where Islam is the majority and vast amounts of time and energy have been devoted to diplomacy and cultural understanding.

In today’s digitial age where one slight misstep or miscalculation could result in the rest of the world viewing and replaying the incident over again with a different spin, it is astonishing that the U.S. military was unable to recognize the potential violent backlash that could result from burning Qurans in Afghanistan.

That statement in no way diminishes the important role that the U.S. military and NATO has in Afghanistan to stabilize the country and eradicate oppressive and criminal elements in Afghanistan that are keeping the country at bay from advancing and establishing a better society for their people. 

This includes eliminating Afghanistan’s production of opium, cultivating new sustainable crops, building roads, bridges, schools, and driving away extremist ideologies (Taliban) that have literlly strangled the country and threatened the stability of the region, especially in nuclear armed neighbor Pakistan where the Taliban are also influential.

The United States and its coalition NATO partners have sacrificed and devoted a tremendous amount of money, time, and lives to help the people of Afghanistan. Their role in the country is an important one. But showing more sensitivity to the religious heritage of the Afghan people and their holy book is an important step to build closer ties of cooperation and trust that sow the seeds for lasting change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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