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.
A couple of things have popped up on the radar screen concerning discontent on the left with Obama. It has gone from being a simmering thing discussed among the leftists to something that is becoming more commonly and openly expressed by Democrats. Two examples serve to make the point.
One came out of New Mexico where a Obama campaign Obama for America (OFA) New Mexico State Director Ray Sandoval let loose on critics of Obama, to include Paul Krugman and progressive bloggers he calls “Firebaggers” (most likely from the name FireDogLake, an extreme left “progressive” blog). A sample:
Paul Krugman is a political rookie. At least he is when compared to President Obama. That’s why he unleashed a screed as soon as word came about the debt ceiling compromise between President Obama and Congressional leaders – to, you know, avert an economic 9/11. Joining the ideologue spheres’ pure, fanatic, indomitable hysteria, Krugman declares the deal a disaster – both political and economic – of course providing no evidence for the latter, which I find curious for this Nobel winning economist. He rides the coattails of the simplistic argument that spending cuts – any spending cuts – are bad for a fragile economy, ignoring wholeheartedly his own revious [sic] cheerleading for cutting, say, defense spending. But that was back in the day – all the way back in April of this year. […]
No, the loudest screeching noise you hear coming from Krugman and the ideologue Left is, of course, Medicare. Oh, no, the President is agreeing to a Medicare trigger!!! Oh noes!!! Everybody freak out right now! But let’s look at the deal again, shall we? […]
Now let’s get to the fun part: the triggers. The more than half-a-trillion in defense and security spending cut "trigger" for the Republicans will hardly earn a mention on the Firebagger Lefty blogosphere. Hell, it’s a trigger supposedly for the Republicans, and of course, there’s always It’sNotEnough-ism to cover it.
This is an example, I think, of the level of frustration this early on that the campaign is experiencing. Paul Krugman, other than thinking the administration should have spent much more on stimulus, has been a pretty reliable water carrier for those folks. He can’t catch a break. Vilified and fisked regularly by the right, he’s now being denounced by the left. And you have to love the irony of the first sentence. If ever there was a political rookie in way over his head, it’s Sandovol’s boss. It’s obvious and it is the driver of much of the frustration.
However, on the other side of that, what Democratic Representative Peter Defazio (D – OR) said should be even more disconcerting to the Obamians. He’s pretty frank in his appraisal of the man in the White House. And his appraisal is one shared by many, at least those without political blinders on:
In his Eugene office Wednesday, Defazio accused the President of lacking the will to fight for the promises he made to get elected
“Fight? I don’t think it’s a word in his vocabulary,” said DeFazio. “ I mean come on he pledged as a candidate to make the Bush tax cuts for people making over $250,000. He repeatedly said that as president. Then the Republicans telegraphed to him they were going to use a fake crisis over the debt limit in order to muscle some major spending reductions or other things on to him. And that was in December. And what happens? Suddenly he flip flops and concedes everything to the Republicans.” DeFazio said.
Asked whether he thought the President had a shot at re-election, Defazio was skeptical.
“At this point it pretty much depends on how far out there the Republican nominee is. You know with a respectable, someone who is a little bit toward the middle of the road Republican nominee, he’s going to have a very tough time getting re-elected,” said DeFazio.
Now again, DeFazio would fall in what Sandovol calls the “It’sNotEnough” [sic] crowd. However, the real point is the fact that regardless of where anyone is coming from in their denunciation of Obama, they almost universally agree he isn’t much of a fighter, or leader. If you’re running for re-election, that is not something you want hung around your neck.
DeFazio also hits on a truism for the GOP – the “further out” the GOP candidate is, the more likely that Obama, warts and all, has a shot at re-election.
But back to DeFazio’s musings:
He’s also not convinced the President will do well in Oregon.
“I believe Oregon is very much in play. I mean we are one of the harder hit states in the union, particularly my part of the state. I’ve just done six town hall meetings, have seven to go but people are shaking their head and saying ‘I don’t know if I’d vote for him again.’” Defazio said.
Asked if he was surprised, the congressman shrugged.
“Not at all. One guy asked me … give me 25 words what he’s about and what he’s done for me. I’m like … ‘it could have been worse?’” DeFazio said.
If Oregon is really in play, Obama has major problems.
I have to admit, had I been the reporter doing the interview, the next question that would have come to my mind, given his 25 words is, “Really? How”?