But, one has to ask, did it?
President Obama said his formal apology to Afghan President Hamid Karzai for the burning of Korans by U.S. troops last week has "calmed things down" after the incident sparked an outbreak of violence across the country.
"We’re not out of the woods yet," Obama said in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Bob Woodruff at the White House. "But my criteria in any decision I make, getting recommendations from folks who are actually on the ground, is what is going to best protect our folks and make sure that they can accomplish their mission."
Of course, the murder of two officers by an Afghan soldier in Kabul came after the apology. And, the riot in which hand grenades were thrown at the gate Forward Outpost Fortitude wounding 7 US Special Forces soldiers did as well. Finally, today’s murder of two US soldiers by their erstwhile Afghan compatriots again comes after the apology. The apology took place on or about the 23rd of February. The 4 deaths and 7 woundings afterward.
Hardly “calmed down”. But of course, much like the “saved jobs” claim, Obama can always claim the unprovable, and as usual, he has.
This actually points to a larger and growing problem. A problem that has been exacerbated by the President announcing a withdrawal date for our combat troops. The problem? The “green on blue” fratricide such as that seen during these Koran riots.
The growing divide between Afghan soldiers and their mentors has already been stretched to the breaking point after six days of violent and deadly protests over the Koran burning that have left around 30 dead, including four U.S. troops previously killed by Afghan soldiers or men in Afghan-security-force uniforms. The burning of Korans by foreign troops on one side and the killing of foreign troops by Afghan soldiers on the other have pushed the level of alienation between the two sides to what could be an all-time high.
The Saturday murders were only the latest of at least 22 similar killings that have occurred since last April. Smith says there have been at least 35 in the past 12 months, though NATO spokesman Brigadier General Carsten Jacobson refused to confirm that number. The Wall Street Journal reports that at least 77 coalition troops have been killed in the past five years in "green on blue" incidents, with around 57 of those having taken place since early 2010. Smith is not sanguine about improving the situation, even as the allies pour more money and effort into training ever more locals. Says he: "You only ever rent an Afghan, you can’t buy one."
The Army published a study in May of 2011 that, if you read the conclusion, points to failure in regards to ever fielding a competent and able indigenous Afghan security force. The study, entitled “A Crisis of Trust and Cultural Incompatibility” had this to say:
The report concludes that "the rapidly growing fratricide-murder trend committed by Afghan national security force [ANSF] personnel against NATO members" confirms the "ineffectiveness [of] our efforts in stabilizing Afghanistan, developing a legitimate and effective government, battling the insurgency, gaining the loyalty, respect and friendship of the Afghans [and] building the ANSFs into legitimate and functional organizations." The report says that these complaints and murders challenge the usefulness of the "partnering" concept. "This is all the more a paradox given [NATO’s] assumption of and planned reliance [on] the [ANSF] to be able to take over the security burden before it can disengage from this grossly prolonged conflict."
Much of what is happening can be tied to the absurd notion that announcing your withdrawal well in advance will not have negative effects. Of course, the feeling of abandonment by the Afghan government and armed forces are just one of the many negative effects. And, for the less stable and easily influenced among them, it has translated itself into the murder of American soldiers who are there, ostensibly, to help the ANSF.
What the Obama administration has managed to do in its three years is completely reverse the gains of the previous years in Afghanistan, push the government of Afghanistan toward accommodation with the Taliban and condemned those American troops we leave behind to mentor the ANSF to a very dangerous role in which their lives are just as threatened by their allies as the enemy.
Obama ought to apologize for that.