WASHINGTON -- On Feb. 20, a NATO-Afghan security team at the Parwan Detention Center -- adjacent to the U.S.-run Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul -- began destroying files, books and documents from the detention facility library. The printed material was being burned because it contained handwritten coded messages being passed among Taliban and al-Qaida detainees. Afghan security personnel retrieved charred pages from several copies of the Quran and other Islamic holy texts. The following day, angry crowds rioted outside NATO installations in Kabul and elsewhere around Afghanistan.
On Feb. 23, White House spokesman Jay Carney announced that President Barack Obama, America's apologist-in-chief, had written a penitent letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai in which Obama pledged to "take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, to include holding accountable those responsible." Karzai responded by insisting that the American soldiers responsible for this act be put on public trial and punished. It's been downhill in Afghanistan ever since.
Within hours of the presidential apology, two U.S. soldiers were dead -- killed by their Afghan counterparts. In an effort to justify Obama's act of contrition, the White House claimed the apology was "wholly appropriate" given the "understandable sensitivities" regarding Islam's holy book -- but never bothered to point out that writing in a Quran is forbidden by Islamic teaching. (The burned pages also had been written in.)
That night, Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich condemned the Obama apology as "an outrage." In a written statement issued by his campaign, the former House speaker said: "It is Hamid Karzai who owes the American people an apology, not the other way around. This destructive double standard whereby the United States and its democratic allies refuse to hold accountable leaders who tolerate systematic violence and oppression in their borders must come to an end."
The Obama administration demurred and defended its abject appeasement. Carney said that Obama's "primary concern as commander in chief is the safety of American men and women in Afghanistan." He added that the apology "was absolutely the right thing to do." The statement did nothing to defuse the violence. Two more Americans died within 48 hours at the Interior Ministry -- shot execution-style in one of the most secure facilities in Kabul.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.