Of course the lunatic pastor in Florida who burned the Koran on March 20 bears moral responsibility for the resulting deaths in Afghanistan. But he won’t be held legally accountable because there’s no law in the U.S. against burning a book, and if there was it would be unenforceable as a violation of the guarantee of free speech in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. There ought to be a law, right?
But there’s someone else whom we can and should hold responsible for all the resulting deaths and violence. Although the Koran burning had been ignored by the media, President Karzai of Afghanistan for reasons known only to himself, on March 24 chose to publicly denounce the burning of the Koran four days earlier, and to demand that the U.S. government also condemn and prosecute the crazy book burner. That announcement by the Afghan president is what triggered the rioting and killing of United Nations personnel who were working to improve the condition of the Afghan people.
Karzai had to know what he was doing and had to expect and desire the violent response to his announcement of the Koran burning. Perhaps the unpopular president felt the need to assert his independence from the U.S. for political reasons. While we can’t prosecute Karzai anymore than we can the crazy pastor, we can stop expending our tax dollars and the lives of our brave soldiers trying to prop up this corrupt puppet gone rogue.
Our dilemma in Afghanistan reminds me of our situation in South Vietnam in 1963 when we found ourselves in another civil war propping up another corrupt puppet who refused to treat the U.S. as an ally. Too deeply committed to the war in Vietnam, our solution was to give the green light to the South Vietnamese military to assassinate South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem. The resulting instability of subsequent military juntas insured our ultimate defeat after another decade of brutal warfare and tragedy.
What’s our way out of Karzai’s Afghanistan?