September 08, 2010

Whatever happened to supporting the troops?

OK. I am not the biggest fan of the current US war in Afghanistan. Politics and the morality of war aside, my understanding of history as far back as Alexander the Great suggests that the country is the Mother Of All Bad Places to Wage a Counter-Insurgency.

Still and all, it boggles my mind that right wingers in American these days are pushing all the wrong buttons and making a bad situation even worse for people serving and living over there. The Manhattan mosque controversy sends a bad enough message to Muslims and puts the whole hearts and minds thing in jeopardy.

But even that is pretty mild compared with the international reaction to the plans of a "church" in Florida to mark the anniversary of 9/11 by burning copies of the Quran.

Here's how it played in Afghanistan, according to a weekend AP report:

Hundreds of Afghans railed against the United States and called for President Barack Obama's death at a rally in the capital Monday to denounce an American church's plans to burn the Islamic holy book on Sept. 11.

The crowd in Kabul, numbering as many as 500, chanted "Long live Islam" and "Death to America" as they listened to fiery speeches from members of parliament, provincial council deputies, and Islamic clerics who criticized the U.S. and demanded the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country. Some threw rocks when a U.S. military convoy passed, but speakers shouted at them to stop and told police to arrest anyone who disobeyed.

These kinds of deliberate and gratuitous provocations are likely to get a lot of Americans and Afghan civilians killed. It's little surprise that General Petraeus was not amused:

"It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort," Gen. Petraeus said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. "It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems. Not just here, but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community."

As the saying goes, with friends like these, who needs enemies?

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Elizabeth Gaucher said...

This whole thing is so upsetting and crazy. Yet, what can one do when you are a US citizen? Everything that is a terrible idea is not illegal. In all seriousness, do you think our government should make this kind of activity in war time a crime?

El Cabrero said...

I don't think I'd go that far, especially since most restrictive legislation during wartime is usually applied against those who oppose the war. But one would hope that disapproval and social pressure (if not human intelligence) might help persuade people not to do dumb @*#$.

I think these people zoned out on the whole "how would you like it if somebody did that to you?" thing.

Hollowdweller said...

I think the whacko minister is majorly effed up.

While I'd defend the right of any nut to burn anything as free speech, in a lot of ways this to me is exactly the sort of thing Chaplinsky vs New Hampshire was about on a global scale.

The sad part (to me) is that since Obama and the dems have not passed any gun control that the right can use to steer votes their way, they have played up the whole muslim hate thing in a very dangerous way for the country.

It seems to me now there's more muslim hate being propogated now than right after 9/11.

If the GOP wins a majority I think they are going to have a hard time putting the genie back into the box.

El Cabrero said...

Roger that.