I try to be as serious about these topics as possible. Giving real helpful insights. The one I wrote two days ago positively encouraged some of you, but others wanted more. The “real stuff.” I think that meant things like “No seriously, Carl. What do we do about these things and how are we to think and react?” Fair enough. So let me try this.
Any time someone asks me a question like – “What are the Muslims in Afghanistan thinking when they kill our soldiers because we accidentally burned their Qur’an and what should we do about that?” – I then need to ask this back? Would you like that question answered from my political perspective? Or my social/cultural perspective? Or my theological perspective? All our valid. I can answer from any of them. But they are not the same.
So that’s what we need to ask first in this case. Are we trying to figure out what America should do and what should we support America doing, politically? It’s a good time to ask that question since we’re coming up on elections.
In the Republican field we seem to have three guys anxious to bomb first and ask questions later and one guy who wants to withdraw from everywhere and everything. Gingrich clearly laid out his plans for dealing with enemies – “Kill them,” were his exact words. At least he’s clear.
We should be clear about one thing, our foreign policy in the Middle East and the regions connected to it (so I’d include Afghanistan as “connected”), have been confusing and unclear to most Americans and particularly to those in the countries in question. To say we want to “defeat the Taliban and set up a free and modern Afghanistan” is not a clear policy. Or “defeat Saddam Hussein and his forces and encourage a free and democratic Iraq.” Or “keep Iran from getting Nuclear weapons.” That one’s a little more clear, just not very enforceable.
So what should American troops in Afghanistan do in such circumstances as they find themselves in now? Franky, it’s not simple! We have two broad over-arching choices – stay or leave. Leaving is the easy one. Staying is complex, because we have to clearly define and articulate our objective. (Which neither Bush nor Obama have done). When we use words like “Stabilize” or “democracy” or “freedom” we have to clearly define them with measurable objectives. Doing that would go a long ways in gauging whether or not our mission has been or can ever be successful there.
Once that is defined and articulated, then, and only then, can we address how to deal with a specific case like us burning Qur’ans leading to American deaths and how to deal with that.It’s my gut feeling that we needed to apologize, and then move on. But unless we know where we’re moving to, this will continue to happen over and over.
I will write more on the other two perspectives in my next blog…