The killing of the U.S. officers on Saturday occurred two days after a man wearing an Afghan army uniform fatally shot two American troops in eastern Afghanistan, the latest in a string of incidents in recent months in which local security forces have turned against NATO personnel.But Obama apologized. The article doesn't mention Obama. Only "Senior Obama administration officials," who, we're told, "have sought to reassure a war-weary American public that the NATO combat mission in Afghanistan would draw to a close by the middle of next year." The middle of next year, that is, after the election. We weren't supposed to be thinking about Afghanistan during the election season.
Some of the killings have been perpetrated by Afghan troops whose loyalties lay with the Taliban. But, in most cases, the attacks have been the result of tensions between U.S. forces and Afghans who felt as though they had suffered an insult to themselves or their faith.
Here's the NYT article:
American officials sought to reassure both Afghanistan’s government and a domestic audience on Sunday that the United States remained committed to the war after the weekend killing of two American military officers inside the Afghan Interior Ministry and days of deadly anti-American protests.This article does refer to Obama, his apology for the Koran burnings, and the impending presidential election — in the context of things Romney and Santorum said. Romney's comment is so bland, it's not worth quoting. Santorum, in what the NYT calls "harsh criticism," faults Obama for apologizing when the burning of the Korans was not an intentional display of disrespect.
But behind the public pronouncements, American officials described a growing concern, even at the highest levels of the Obama administration and Pentagon, about the challenges of pulling off a troop withdrawal in Afghanistan that hinges on the close mentoring and training of army and police forces.
Here's the full transcript of what Santorum said (on ABC's "This Week," i.e., the George Stephanopoulos show). Santorum, referring to the Koran burnings, says "a mistake was made, clearly a mistake, which we should not have apologized for."
[S]ay it's unfortunate, say that this is something that should have been done.... But to apologize for something that was not an intentional act is something that the President of the United States... suggests that there is somehow blame, this is somehow that we did something wrong in the sense of doing a deliberate act wrong. I think it shows that we are -- that I think it shows weakness. I think what we say is, look, what happened here was wrong. But it was -- it was not something that was deliberate, and we are -- we -- you know, we take responsibility for it. It's unfortunate. But to apologize, I think, lends credibility that somehow or another that it was more than that.Do we have any actual experts on Afghan culture who can tell us what apologies mean to Afghans? Obviously, we have trouble understanding what counts as a manifestation of disrespect and why it inflames the Afghan people to such a degree, or whether it's bogus inflammation used as an excuse for violence, so I have no confidence that Obama or Santorum is any good at predicting the effect of apologizing or not apologizing on the events in Afghanistan.
Both of them seem to take a position on apologizing that has to do with their American cultural values. As Americans, we can talk about the meaning of apologies and form opinions about whether Obama or Santorum has the better philosophy. But choosing a President, I want someone effective at doing what is in American interests around the world.
Obama came into office claiming some special insight into how we are perceived in other countries, and he made us feel that he would improve these perceptions. This has not happened.
Santorum offers a different approach. Perhaps reciting and adhering to clearly stated American values would work better than Obama's apologies for America. But I don't see any special understanding or expertise in either of these men. They are just 2 American men behaving according to their instincts and ideology.