In Reactions to Two Incidents, a U.S.-Afghan Disconnect

The muted response in Afghanistan to a massacre of 16 Afghans relative to outrage at the burning of Korans, and American surprise at the difference, is evidence of a cultural gap.

Comments: 129

  1. God bless America. Freedom of religion and separation of church and state. I fear Afghanistan is a lost cause, and this means a greater concern for the world at large as long as religion trumps other concerns, even the sanctity of life for many Muslims, where death equals martyrdom.

  2. You may burn as many of my religious books as you wish and I will not raise one hand against you.

  3. We are talking about a society where women and children are commodities and cruel violence is the norm. As horrible as it is the Taliban may fear we finally know how to win this war.
    The only person to ever defeat fundamentalist muslins was Ivan the Terrible and he lined the streets of Russia heading east with the heads of Tatar soldiers.
    If we are not willing to do that we must leave. There is no understanding of compassion, empathy or the greater good of the community.
    Whether we are talking about ultra-orthodox Jews forcing women to the back of the bus in Brooklyn, or the denouncing of science in the Bible belt the stain of absolutism has always been a plague creeping across the world.
    At the end of the day it is all driven by dollars, a pipeline through the Bible Belt, a pipeline across Afghanistan the dividing of people via the hatred of simplistic politics and religion has always had economic goals that serve the very few.

  4. Or it could just be the fact that the Afghans have lived in this war and understand what the continuous stress of it can do to cause a person to snap, unlike 99.9% of Americans whose closest connection to combat is watching a war movie......

  5. Is the Afghan reaction really so different? Would a massacre by a berserk gunman not cause less of a ripple than a flag-burning, in some parts of the US? The notion that they are somehow "different" is silly.

    Insult, disrespect and contempt are difficult to forgive. Death, whether in a traffic accident or murder, is merely a premature exit. People know this.

    The real question is: why is this not obvious? If this is so difficult to understand, it is our problem, not theirs.

  6. Although I doubt it, there could be a few individuals in "some parts of the US who would be more outraged by the burning of a US flag than by killing of human beings. However, for most Americans, flag (or bible or cross burnings) have long since ceased to arouse strong reactions of any kind. This is as it should be. The assassination-murder of innocents, however, shocks and horrifies most people. Just consider your own reactions when you heard about villagers being murdered as opposed to those when you heard about the murder-assassinations that followed the Koran burning incident.

  7. I wish the writer of the article had been so wise, and less glib -- thanks for your thoughtful assessment.

    When our sacred symbols are attacked we frequently respond with outrage. When innocent people - especially small children -- are attacked sometimes the sense of horror and loss supersedes outrage, especially initially.

  8. however, it could be said that senseless killing of one's citizens would be an insult.

  9. This response is not unique to Islam. Think of Catholic and Protestant martyrs who died for the faith. We celebrate their lives because they put their faith ahead of themselves. The sixteen who were killed are now with Allah. Yes, there is suffering. But nothing can compare to the threat of insults to the faith, or attempts, from the Afghan point of view, to annihilate the faith, and by definition, their way of life, their culture, and their values.

  10. As it stands in many Nations where the Individual is secondary to the State or Religion, the citizens are, to use one definition, Muslims, which means servants of god. Servants have no value, individually. Slaves to Myth......good luck!

  11. I find it sadly amusing that the New York Times treats the steadfast religious commitment of the Afghans with respect yet mock American Catholics for simply resisting their government's mandate to provide contraception.

  12. Would you like them to take Einstein's position, and refer to religion as a myth, the bible a children's tale? For the truly deluded?

  13. The NYT's in this article is pointing out a glaring difference in the view on religion that most Americans hold relative to Afghanis. I didn't detect any mockery versus respect one way or the other. Most Americans view the recent killings by an American soldier of civilians as a far more horrifying act than the apparent accidental Koran burning yet Afghanis are not only opposite this viewpoint but willing to express it violently. These recent events should be a light in the attic moment for us in regards to how culturally different we are and how unlikely our currently defined mission is to succeed.

  14. Last time I looked the government was not holding a gun on catholic women forcing them to take birth control pills.

  15. A book is more valuable than a human life! This is the Afghan's basic value. Now you realize how easy for the talibans to recruit children for their mission.. The number of children and women killed by the talibans is much more than what this crazy american soldier did. Books are more important than human lives, that is the
    religion and that seems to be in God's interest for some weird reason.

  16. "A book is more valuable than a human life!"

    Such self-righteous comment, simply because no violence has followed the unspeakable horrror perpetrated by a US soldier as opposed to the burning of the Korans. Two thoughts:

    It could be that the shock has still not subsided, the personal grief at this time is stronger than the desire for vengeance. Or, these people have had to live with violence and death for so long that they may have acquired some kind of acceptance and resignation to it, if not immunity.

    As for comparing the number of women and children killed by the Taliban to those killed by American soldiers (let's not forget, this isn't the first such incident), I would point out that the total number of innocent Afghan civilians killed by American forces in the last 10 years of this war far exceeds the number of civilians killed in the 9/11 attack.

    I could also say to you that, to a lot of Americans, GUNS are more valuable than human lives. They are to them what the holy books are to Muslims. How else can you explain the tens of thousands of Americans killed by guns each year, many of them children playing with their fathers' weapons, and no one dares to do anything about it? Where is the outrage at the availability in obtaining and carrying around a gun by anybody who wants to? There might not be a riot in the US if Bibles were burned, but I can pretty much guarantee there would be one if weapons were confiscated. The NRA would see to that.

  17. We continue to wander in the wilderness of ignorance and lack of knowledge of history and experience, when it concerns with matters of Islam. Islam is a religion quite unlike any other practiced in this world. A Moslem is indoctrinated from birth that his or her sole allegiance is to Islam, Mohammed and Koran and everything else is subordinate to these edifices. A Moslem is taught to give up his life, with promises of unmatched pleasures in paradise, to avenge all insults, real or perceived, against his faith, its founder and its holy book. All actions arising out of reason and instinct are bred out of them. It is the precisely the reason why Moslem mothers do not shed a single tear when their son blows himself up and lament why they do not have more sons to die for the cause of their faith.

    Unless we stop wondering at the reaction of Moslems at variance with the rest of the world and try to accept as fact, we are doomed to wander in the darkness of ignorance

  18. Let's not confuse Afghan hypocrisy with Islam.

  19. When Bush abandoned Afghanistan to the Taliban in 2003, our troops were left with no mission, no leadership and no strategy.

    The outcome of the war was determined back in 2003.

    We LOST.

    But Obama has stupidly decided to keep fighting Bush's lost war.

  20. This article is biased on so many levels. The majority of the article is based on the opinion of a mullah. If I interviewed a priest or a rabbi would you expect anything different? Please stop making wide sweeping statements about "Afghan values" when most American's haven't met one in their lives. Many Afghans as well as Americans were deeply distraught over the civilian killings. As for why people didn't protest, who knows? There are several factors, majority of which are difficult to account for.

    On the other hand, there is one concrete value that Afghans hold; the disdain for foreign occupation.

  21. Lemar is totally ignorant of US culture. No priest or rabbi would be advocating serious criminal penalties, much less death, for someone who threw old bibles into the trash.

    It takes the willful ignorance of the multiculturalist to find anything remarkable in the fact that Afghans care more about the Koran than murdered civilians. Anyone with the least knowledge of Islam and Afghanistan, and not beholden to their own PC beliefs, would expect this.

  22. they don't protest for the same reason most americans don't protest. they don't have time! They are too busy trying to eke out a living and feed their families. They work! That's why they don't protest!

  23. Ron Strong is right. We are way beyond love of the Word. Instead, we love the flag.

  24. Do not Korans get burned or destroyed when Taliban insurgents destroy mosques or blow up vehicles or pedestrians groups in cities? Why not any outrage from the population then? The burning of the Korans by the US military was not done with any malice, they were just in a batch of material scheduled for burning.

    I honor religious respect for the articles, artifacts, and buildings used by those religions; however, while common sense, facts, and the objectives of acts should be considered before acting, it is easy to incite a mob which may have an inherent dislike of any group (think pogroms in Easten Europe; think the Crusades; and, think of Reconstruction in our own country). Case rests.

  25. Some live their life for religion while others live their life guided by religion.

  26. Anything to distract from the two American bad acts. Which suggest the countless other American bad acts in Afghanistan.

  27. Just to say that while the Mullah laments the less than enthusiastic reaction of wholesale killing in retaliation, I would like to ask the Muslim clerics and Taliban leaders, where is your equal chagrin and horror at the numerous Korans burned and destroyed in massacres and bombings of Muslim [people in marches to Holy Places or Funerals by fellow Muslims? Also, what of the "Innocent" men, women, and children clutching their Korans, killed in Holy places and funerals, etc. It seems it is O.K. for Muslims to desecrate the Holy Koran and kill children, women, and men by the thousands, but if a deranged and insane American runs amok it warrants a World Muslim Jihad against Americans, while the perpetrator is jailed and faces a Civilized Court process that could result in the death penalty. I just don't get their blind eye to their own uncivilized and satanic violence against their own people by the tens of thousands. We have all watched the shooting of the pregnant woman at the sports stadium or the public cutting off of hands at soccer games, and on the television each night see the remnants of shoes and clothing and the stain of blood of shootings and bombings of parades and weddings of fellow Muslims.

  28. Excellent comments.

    Here's the problem. All religions are populated with delusional adherents.

    Delusion: "A persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence, especially as a symptom of a psychiatric disorder."

    Unfortunately, as any psychiatrist knows, there is no cure for delusion. Medication is available for psychotics but nothing yet for those suffering from delusion. Most of the population on our planet is affected with religious delusion; some more dangerous than others.

  29. I agree that there is a disconnect, but it is not just US-Afghan, it is a disconnect between religion and secular society. We should remember that earlier in Western civilization the Catholic Church and Christianity played a major role in people's daily lives, much as it does for the average Muslim today it seems. Daily life was filled with death and tribulations, and much of the time the only thing people had to look upon for happiness and meaning was their God.

    The transition to a humanist view in Western history changed all that. We value people more than almost anything, and that is an idea antithetical to Muslim beliefs. If that were the only problem there would be no problem, except that humanism apparently has destroyed our ability to understand others' views that are different from our own.

    It's a difficult thing, to place oneself in another person's position. If we've lost the ability to empathize and understand others then what good is humanism?

  30. The answer to the question 'what good is humanism' is that humanism has supplied humanity with a much better and nobler set of values than religion. We need to recover our cultural confidence and say: the Koran is just a book, just as is the bible and a single copy of either has no value compared to a human life.

  31. I think the question of whether humanism is "better and nobler" than religion depends on how you define humanism and how you define religion. When a church runs a country (or a group of countries) is it a religion in the sense that we in the West use that word today? Or is it actually a government -- subject to the same petty politics and abuses of power that any government exhibits? Is humanism only the stuff of 18th century romantic writers? Is it not also the stuff of Stalin and Mao?

    Abuse of power, extremism, corruption, hatred, violence -- these are human qualities. We call a system of laws and morals "good" when it minimizes the bad and maximizes the good of human nature. Religion and secularism have both succeeded and both failed at this task.

    If you wish to occupy a country, you need to understand it. If you wish to change a country, you need to understand it even more. Afghanistan does not have a functional government. The Koran is their constitution and their flag. We cannot expect tolerance when we destroy something that represents their core values.

    There is nothing wrong with Western values -- I love democracy, human rights, feminism, and the separation of church and state. I believe in respect and tolerance. I want to spread those values. That is simply not possible when my army murders civilians and desecrates another people's faith.

  32. They love Islam more than themselves, which is what makes them so dangerously formidable.

  33. Goes for us and money. There doesn't seem to be a disconnect at all. Humans are expendable. That's something we can all agree on.

  34. Way too simplistic an analysis. Right now that country is in shock. But the pain and hatred caused by the killing of these 16 people, including children, obviously is gaining massive momentum and will result in long-term revenge against the Americans there. This is far from over. The US has planted the roots of this all by causing this disaster. The NY Times now, by writing this naïf article, is only adding fuel to the fire.

  35. Everything in this article, confirming a Middle Ages viewpoint in Afghanistan, makes it clear that we have no business "guiding" or interfering in this society --which is altogether alien to the modern outlook.

    Cultures such as this should be allowed to succeed--or fail--in their own terms. Much blood and treasure (which for the Western viewpoint is more important than religious books) would be saved.

  36. Books more important than children. What a sick, sick society! This is why the mission in Afghanistan will ultimately fail. When we occupied Germany and Japan after WWII it was with the express intent of changing the fundamental principles under which the society operates. This is precisely why we refused the Japanese request to grant immunity tot he Emperor, even though we had no intention of holding him accountable. But by making them face the reality that we COULD prosecute him, they were compelled to abandon one of the tenants of their culture. Although this sounds cruel, it allowed Japan to develop into the thriving nation that it has been for the last 60 years. The occupation of Germany led them to abandon their more Teutonic ideals, and they too have developed into a rather liberal society with institutional safeguards to prevent a repetition of unfortunate choices and reprehensible practices.

    When the US leaves Afghanistan, we will have left it unchanged and that is very sad.
    As to this American solider, a firing squad is too good for him. Traitors and spies are fit only for the noose.

  37. Exactly. It is a shame that we won't be able to make the Afghanis respect the flag above both books and life and live in a modern nation where only the truly righteous (as evidenced by their righteous might) are immune from prosecution.

  38. White man's burden, eh? You express a xenophobic and sanctimonious attitude that is part of why the U.S. is not the most popular kid in the school yard. Rather, the U.S. is considered the bully in the school yard.

    If you don't like the way the Afghans, Germans or Japanese conduct their culture, don't live there.

  39. It is not a book,it is their Holly Book. Have you ever seen a Muslim burning a Bible or jewish Telmud? Muslims have respect to those books because they believe they represent the same G-d of Christians,jews and Muslims.

  40. Afghans are disappointed with the Americans, NATO and Afghan government itself. Everyone in Afghanistan knows that the Taliban are coming from Pakistan and they are the Frontier Constabulary of Pakistan but Americans are blind on that but Americans fight that war in Afghans villages. This disappointment was behind the anger and outrage.
    Its really very surprising that western media is criticizing Karzai for corruption but no single channel point out the root cause of Taliban and their sanctuaries.

  41. What is your evidence that the Taliban are coming from Frontier Constabulary? Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghans over the last thirty years. Go and look at the streets of Karachi and all our major cities. Its filled with Afghan refugees. Instead of being thankful, you are playing into propaganda and conspiracy theories. Shame on you.

  42. We are two world's apart from these people. We have no real goal any longer in that country. The Taliban will return the second we leave, so what is the point?

  43. Hilary is advocating Women's Equal Rights for Afghani Women -- and an education too. She is ready along with Obama to shove American Democracy down the throats of Afghanis and make them love democracy at the point of a gun ... no matter how many they kill or what their religious dictates are, the US has decided to ignore all religious and cultural differences.

    The US Administration has decided that modernity is the only way fight against Islam.

    Yeah, lots of luck on that.

  44. It should be remembered that we, and the Soviets before us, have been killing people in Afghanistan for quite some time. It is not news to them that even more people, or even more children have been added to the pile of dead.

    It is only news here, where the media has conditioned us to think of war(s) as self defense or heroic demonstrations of our concern for the well being of citizens of other countries.

    All lies, of course. Military spending is more than half the budget. And not about to be cut.

    "The war is not meant to be won, it is meant to be continuous. Hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance. This new version is the past and no different past can ever have existed. In principle the war effort is always planned to keep society on the brink of starvation. The war is waged by the ruling group against its own subjects and its object is not the victory over either Eurasia or East Asia, but to keep the very structure of society intact.
    George Orwell

  45. "It is only news here, where the media has conditioned us to think of war(s) as self defense or heroic demonstrations of our concern for the well being of citizens of other countries. All lies, of course. Military spending is more than half the budget. And not about to be cut."

    This is the strength of the US Military Industrial Complex. They want wars, not Americans. Americans are peace loving people who want only peace -- so where does this drumbeat to war come from?

    Let us put it to a vote in this next national election: A vote for War in Afghanistan; A vote for a War in Iran; or a vote for no Wars. It seems that both Republicans and Democrats advocate War -- tools of the US Military Industrial Complex.

    Let American voters decide when the US kills citizens of other countries -- not politicians who are bought and paid for to do the bidding of the US Military Industrial Complex.

  46. "the Americans have had a lot of practice at apologizing for carnage,"

    Does anything more need to be said? Even now, so many Americans are thirsting for the blood of Iranians.

    How stupid can one be?

  47. The precise value underlying the apparent "disconnect" of cultures is well illustrated by this incident. The shared value by Muslim, any Christian denomination, as well as the rule of law consists in the acknowledgement that human nature must have standards of behavior to secure peaceful coexistence and advance civilization. For the Muslims the Qoran identifies this value. For us -US citizens- the rule of law plays that role. The problem is or is perceived to be the abuse of the rule of law to "legalize" behavior that does nothing to contribute to civilization.

  48. If the article is hinting that the Afghan reaction was less outrageous at the present case compared with the burning of the Korans, so why did the U.S. remove the murderer from that country instead of letting him be judged by an Afghan court?

    Might the U.S. establishment fear that Afghans could condemn the killer to a penalty more severe than just a house arrest as was the verdict imposed by the nation which deem itself an uttermost pattern of fairness to the My Lai's responsible not to mention that had acquitted the rest of the gang?

  49. The Afghans have experienced this much more than reported, I'm sure. They are numb. The Koran is their conscience. In wars, no one is innocent, but women and children are clearly victims, no matter the country or the faith. Religion is a dangerous weapon in any culture. It is the cover for righteous violence. No religion or country is innocent of this. We've justified ourselves in the Middle East this way, and the Muslims have in attacking us. However, it is truly a lie that the Muslims first came after us. Their attacks were the results of the West's hegonomy in the Middle East for decades.

  50. Killings of innocent women, children and men were done by a serviceman who became insane. I don't think American Military or any decent country allows it's men under uniform to kill non-combatants. Therefore, it should be looked at as an act of insanity by one individual who happened to be on a war duty in a foreign land.

    Burning of a wholly book of certain people by servicemen following the chain of commands orders and SOPs in a muslim country? What the heck is Pentagon doing? Spent a trillion dollars, lost thousands of lives and could not come up with SOPs for its men under uniform in a foreign country?

    It's a wake up call, indeed for American people to rein in their national security institutions and their managers. I don't think burning of Quran or a wholly book is American or any religion's value.

    it's sad to see loosing a war and sanity after paying so much in blood and treasure.

    God bless American people

    God bless American leadership with wisdom.

  51. May God punish us for our arrogance and stupidity.

  52. The attempt to explain this "disconnect" in acceptable anthropological and sociological tems is laudable. In this article I did not detect any value judgement, hidden or otherwise. Just the facts, as has been said.

    Or, perhaps it is just that lack of value judgement that is the real message here? I would like to refer readers to the Website of the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan for an altenative view of recent events, and indeed, of the quagmire that Afghanistan has become.


  53. Me: "Why are we still there?"
    President Ike: "Beats me."

  54. Because different people live for different things.

    Afghans live to revere a book because they don't understand that an idea is not paper - let alone that ideas are only as good as their ability to withstand criticism.

    Americans live to go across the oceans and save unwilling peoples from themselves at gunpoint.

    It's what we do.

  55. By the way folks...this isn't even a war. It's a war for very few unfortunate men and women being shot at by thugs but the larger sense...what is this thing?

  56. The last line of this article is very disturbing.. a horrible action of a soldier can not be or should not be compared with Taliban atrocities. I pray we (US) will recognize the grave massacre and bring this soldier to justice for his actions.

  57. U.S. troops are NEVER held to the same standard as the citizens of other countries.

    Our troops are NEVER seriously prosecuted no matter how heinous their crimes.

    We used to be "America Right or Wrong."

    Now we are "America Wrong."

  58. maybe they should get this soldier and cut off his head on TV or stone him they way those idiots do. If you read the article, they could care less about the deaths of martyrs (as they call them) but do care mainly about the Koran.
    This is their war for how many years now.
    As already said: "What are we doing there?" "Beats Me"
    lets just apologize and get out. surely, he is great at that!!!!!!

  59. Why shouldn't it not be compared with Taliban atrocities? Isolating one deadly incident among thousands of deadly incidents in a war is tantamount to believing that one side is more 'holier' than the other...

  60. If we spend as much money on nutrition and education as we have on this destruction we have brough on this area. then we could say we are going in the right direction

  61. "If we spend as much money on nutrition and education as we have on this destruction we have brough on this area. then we could say we are going in the right direction"

    The Taliban would just burn the fruits of these efforts down to the ground, suicide bomb them, and threaten with death all of those who collaberated with the bringers of your nutrition, education, and hope.

    Afghans that desire to live autonomous lives within and under a Western democratic model, would agree with your logical and altruistic sentiments... to a point.

    Only to a point, because they rightfully fear the Taliban, and whether we in the US like it or not, Coalition forces are the only force stemming the tide of a blood-letting Taliban pogrom... that is sure to come after Coalition forces exit.

    I pity these Afghans because I don't think that they have a future in Afghanistan... and what future that they'll have will be living under the boot-heel of fascist theocracy that dictates all aspects of how they live their lives.

    The Taliban are twin siblings with the same set of parental chromosomes as the Boko Haram in Nigeria. They will fight forever against that *education* that you philanthropically and in decency suggest.

    You are probably already aware that the meaning of "Boko Haram" is the quite telling... "Western education is sacrilege".

    One can lose their head for committing a sacrilege... and as is confirmed in internationl media reports, they often do.

  62. Furthermore most Americans in Afghanistan are barely out of their teens and dont have much experience of world cultures or even their own. Young people dont observe world news that much. It depends on whether want soldiers to be just fighters, ambassadors, or both.

  63. Just maybe the countless, exaggerated news reports, of unvarified predictions that the Afghan people were all going to go off the deep end, brain washed enough people to believe this country was going to conduct a riot with no end. If the media would simply report the news and keep their predictions out of the "news", the news would be far greater value. It's a hell hole overthere for everyone, and the news is NOT helping anyone with hype driven stories for their own benifits.

  64. And so we know that a soldier who may or may not have gone berserk will probably have to be killed. "You have the death penalty, so we are hopeful." War, though perhaps sometimes necessary, is always a bloody mess. And what, ultimately, was this one for?

  65. One ironic fact is that many people in the red states SHOULD be able to appreciate Muslim anger at the Koran being insulted. They themselves would like to ban the burning of the Bible or of the US flag. Unfortunately, the Supreme Court stands in front of them with a flaming sword saying, "Thou shalt permit insults to the Bible and the flag." So they have got resigned to their situation.

    The reason why the burning of the Koran or the Bible or the flag is wrong is that when you do this, you are not only insulting a book or a flag, you are also insulting those who love them.

    The US has allowed itself to be run by dogmatic lawyers. Are they really better than dogmatic priests? Can't we use common sense?

    Truly political speech, like a speech pointing out Romney's or Obama's faults, should be protected.

    But there is no need to protect corporations funnelling large amounts into campaigns, or to permit the schatology coming from Henry Miller (who was obviously a misogynist) to be given wide circulation.

    This is a misuse of the first amendment.

    I am not saying that Henry Miller SHOULD be banned. But the decision should be pragmatic and not based on the notion of constitutional rights.

  66. We missed some important points in this article. First is the priority for these people: a book, bucks, and bodies. The bodies are here to get killed for bucks t protect the book.

    Religion is the point we completely miss. You cannot help a people that do not want help because their faith leads them to any and every extreme even death in support of the book. We will never help these people unless we realize that our faiths, lives, and values are completely at odds and diametrically opposed.

    We didn't try to understand them when we invaded their country, we don't try to understand them now and we will never understand that hollow apologies although perfectly acceptable in America, don't work in the Muslim world.

    We need to leave the people alone and bring our children home. This situation will continue to degrade if we stay. How can we fix a problem that is not a problem for them?

    They don't want democracy, they live in a theocracy. They don't want to change!

  67. Interesting. I'm a religious guy and I'd say "The whole goal of my religion is life," or, to quote Jesus, "I have come that you might have life more abundantly."

  68. If we were the decent and compassionate society that this "journalist" from the venerable NY Times implies, with all of our values in just the right places, it would be WE who would be marching in the streets protesting the atrocities and evils of the wars that we have been waging. This article implies that Americans are tormented by the killing of children--just where in the past ten years is there any evidence that there is anything other than indifference to the extraordinary suffering by these wars and that we value human life above and beyond all else. The American public is happy to have the government kill on its behalf in order to better our economy, and to hold down gas prices, and if the cost is hundreds of thousands of civilian casualties, including children, we care not at all. And then on the occasion when a civilian death at our hands simply cannot be ignored, we have articles like this that remind us to be self-congratulatory that we are so much better than the people we are murdering.

  69. Suppose, for a moment, that we were to deliver a gift shipment of appropriately bound Korans to Afghanistan. Would this be seen as a friendly gesture? Would it in any way compensate for the damage done by the inadvertent book-burnings? Would our Islamic citizens approve or comment on this? Thanks...

  70. Sorry to say, but you are deviously trying to provoke and it shows your contempt and cynicism of another people and another faith.

    To suggest that you can buy peoples emotions and beliefs with what amounts to a bribe is shallow and immoral.

    On the other hand, morality and ethics are not in the lexicon of the invaders and occupiers and that does effect the equation.

  71. Don't really know. I'm neither Moslem nor Afghan. But, as a human being, I would guess that many would be insulted by such a gesture. The message here would be that the damage done was to the material (paper, ink) that the Koran was made of and could be compensated for by replacement of that material. This is missing the point entirely ..... which, it seems to me is that honor and respect went out of the window by the burning of these Korans. I find it difficult to see how one can re-establish a lost sense of honor and respect by buying books ......

  72. I think we're jumping the gun here. The wishful optimism that this massacre of Afghan villagers, including children, has not brought instant retribution is premature.
    It is abhorrent to equate the payment of blood money with absolution. When an army sergeant, a father himself, can slaughter innocent children and hope that he has made some sort of statement about how he views the Afghans and rely on the US to protect him, it speaks to the failure of indoctrinating soldiers with an understanding the humanity to which the enemy is entitled.
    Retribution will come. Al Qaeda are known to take their time in preparing acts of vengeance. If anything, there will be a surge of "wannabe" suicide bombers waiting to be told where and when.
    What would we say if the Afghans were to say," just give us the guy and we'll forget the whole incident"?

  73. NYT, thank you for addressing this issue, as it is the same question we've been asking each other here. For a people to be so devoted to a religion, that even the slaughter of their most innocent pales in comparison to their reaction to the burning of a book, is incomprehensible. And for Afghanistan to be so obsessed does not bode well for our 'investment' there. The Afghans are among the poorest and least educated people on the planet. What does this say about a culture who places religion above all else? A study plotting the religious obsession of a people with their standard of living, might very well indicate that the more religion controls their lives, the lower that standard of living. For groups like the Taliban, rising to power and controlling a people already predisposed to accepting their message seems utterly unstoppable. Ten years from now, will it be any different? I think not. Perhaps the meek shall inherit the earth. But more likely, they will inherit only their family's handful of goats and a mud hut - and continue to live a life of self-imposed misery.

  74. Why "incomprehensible"? It's certainly a bit different than how most Americans think ... but perhaps not as different as first might appear. For example, a GOP presidential candidate suggested recently that higher education was bad because it resulted in a weakening of religious faith .... so we have our own Taliban-like public figures who peddle religion to further their own personal and bigoted agenda and who may wield considerable power and influence.

    On what basis do you assume that living in a mud hut and owning not much more than a handful of goats = misery. Have you asked people living in this situation? My experience of many such people in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world is that while they may wish for greater material wealth, they are often as happy -- or happier -- than often-restless, dissatisfied middle-class Americans.

  75. "Mullah Qayoom said the quick reaction and prompt apology helped tamp down fury"
    Don't believe this. The taliban have had one whole week to prepare the regional mullahs and imams for the instructions to be presented during Friday "prayers" at mosques all over the place. Afghans, like most Muslims, don't make a move until instructed.
    Let's see what happens tomorrow.
    As for the disconnect, connections are bilateral functions, right?

  76. The last sentence ruined an otherwise well thought out article. When did the Taliban become the yardstick for ethics and morality? They are even hated in their own countries. In all the elections held in Pakistan, the religious parties who are the for fathers of these Taliban, have never received more than 1% of the popular vote. They are widely known as illiterate, murderers, thieves and backward. Are you really going to look to them for a response?

  77. Most Americans will read what you wrote regarding how the Taliban and associated religious parties are "widely known as illiterate, murderers, thieves and backward." At the same time, however, we wonder how such groups can exert enough influence to rule the country, as was the case in Afghanistan before being ousted by the American military. There seems to be a broad disconnect between the perception you described, and the reality on the ground...

    Why the HUGE difference?

  78. Dear "all,"

    Wow, did you ever buy into American propaganda.

    Down with all cultures different from our our. Down with everything in the Mideast ... save oil.

    You may not have known it but the Taliban was once the elected government of Afghanistan -- once an Islamic state and a theocracy. Harboring Bin Laden was their undoing and continues with the continued bombardment by US propaganda to vilify the Taliban as an enemy of the US -- it is suppose to do what? Make these peoples become a democratic society?

    But now that Bin Laden is no more ... why not let them be, do their Islamic thing?

  79. This country's inability (or, even worse, its refusal) to understand other cultures never ceases to amaze me. The thousands of American lives it has caused never ceases to sadden me.

  80. Sorry. In my previous post I meant to say "cost," not "caused."

  81. It's rather simple. They hold the Koran sacred above everything else. We hold money sacred above everything else.

  82. And yet, would you accept "blood money" from the US government if someone in the police force murdered your entire family? Or would you seek justice?

  83. Let's get out, and get out quickly. Afghanistan will never evolve into our view of what a 'democratic nation' is. ...first, they don't want to, and second, the "country" consists of a loose bunch of tribes that have existed and been fighting with each other for a thousand years. it's not a "country" as most of the world knows a country, and as such, can't be dealt with in the same fashion. add to that their disdain for Americans (rightly or wrongly), and their complete intolerance of religious, ethnic, and cultural differences, and it's a no-win environment, regardless what we want.
    ... as the Vietnamese said..."we will become like you after you live here and eat rice for 1000 years"...

  84. “How can you compare the dishonoring of the Holy Koran with the martyrdom of innocent civilians?” said an incredulous Mullah Khaliq Dad, a member of the council of religious leaders who investigated the Koran burnings. “The whole goal of our life is religion.”

    Which, in a nutshell, is why we don't belong there and will never belong there.

  85. What America can't understand is that the people of Afghanistan want a theocracy and not a democracy. They want an Islamic state.

    The US has set up a puppet government and continues to push it upon people who one way or another will be ruled by the Taliban. As much as the US vilifies the Taliban with its propaganda directed at US citizens as much as it is aimed at the peoples of Afghanistan the simple reality is that the Taliban will eventually rule the country because these people want an Islamic state.

    The US puppet government will fall in time no matter how long the US occupies Afghanistan or how much money it funnels in. Once a real democracy is in place the people of Afghanistan will vote in the Taliban. The people of Afghanistan believe that it was the Taliban who rid the country of Russians. Now they are fighting to rid their country of Americans.

    That's the disconnect.

    America is a country of mixed races and religions. Democracy works here for the majority, but in Afghanistan it is not mixed races and religions. The Islamic state is inevitable no matter how much propaganda we use and how many dollars we throw at them because the majority will prevail.

    Once America leaves the Taliban will eventually take over the American created Police Force and Army created to protect the Puppet Government and the people will again have their Islamic state.

    Americans can't understand that we are not wanted, we are occupying their country just as the Russians did.

  86. "What America can't understand is that the people of Afghanistan want a theocracy and not a democracy. They want an Islamic state."

    What America does not yet understand is that Rick Santorum and other fundamentalists want a theocracy and not a democracy. They want a Christian state.

    (You remember Rick: He's the guy that wants to vomit when he hears about JFK saying that he won't let his Catholic faith supersede his duty to all the American people.)

  87. What you fail to understand is that the people of Afganistan want peace and to live their lives, raise their family, and practice their religion without persecution. This is not the same as an islamic state.

    It is the Taliban and Imam's that want an islamic state. The Taliban is a fraction of the population, but is organized, funded, and well armed. The majority are farmers and mountain folk. While they are brave, they will never be able to overcome the Taliban.

    Saying that, we will not either. The Taliban is insideous and we've made no inroads. We need to leave.

  88. This is all just shades of Viet Nam when the US set-up another puppet government -- or with the Shah of Iran, anyone who will do the bidding of the US Corporate state. The US will never learn, we just keep right on continuing our mistakes. The US democracy is bought and paid for by US corporations who want to dominate the world and its resources.

    I guess we are just the "Great Satin."

  89. I was thrilled to see that the comments on the WSJ comments page are uniformly for getting out of Afghanistan. This should be a bi-partisan push to cut our losses and conduct counter-terror efforts covertly. We had notice of the intent to attack before 9-11, but did not follow up on the opportunity. So no more nation building, oil protection in the guise of caring about humanity, huh?

  90. While it is true that Americans have a lot of trouble getting their arms around Afghani cultures, we have the same problem with most cultures. It's just a bit more perplexing in Afghanistan.

    Regardless of their culture, our culture, religion or anyone's opinion of it, here, there or elsewhere, one thing is true.

    We are not leaving Afghanistan.
    Google the "New Silk Road".
    It is easily found at the US State Dept's website.

    Read it; there is zero doubt that the US government, the current one, the previous one and the next one are making big plans for Afghanistan and hope to affect economic growth in the region.

    Support our involvement there or hate it.
    This is not about partisan politics and it is not about changing any culture.
    If the current administration wanted to leave, we would have left by now.

    Stop kidding yourselves. Remember this in November of this year.
    Vote for whomever you choose but do not be deluded by either party's false promises to leave the region.

    It ain't happening

  91. The Koran is not the physical object. The Koran is the life of the true Muslim, lived in submission to God. The purpose of life is not to "protect religion", it is do God's will as revealed by His prophets. God's will is that we live in peace.

    A religion is merely one of many ways in which humans create community. If it is used to spread hatred, or to justify cruelly and unjust treatment, it is a bad religion, no matter how much its proponents self-righteously claim that they acting in the name of God. Bad versions of all religions have cruelty, hatred, and self-righteousness in common. None of them do God's will.

    Religion is the enemy of faith.

  92. Here's Exhibit A of how out of touch the Grey Lady sometimes is. Rick Santorum is winning the Bible Belt primaries and the Fundamentalist vote — imagine the hell that would break loose if a smug Northeasterner or Californian set a Bible aflame anywhere from Southern Missouri on down — and the NYT says "the Koran burnings shows how far apart the two cultures remain." Not so.

  93. It is not illegal to write in a bible or burn one. Not religious myself, but do know US laws.

  94. Please answer these questions:

    What will we accomplish is we stay one more day, one more year or even one more decade?

    Will we obliterate the final terrorist? No!

    Will we win one more heart? No!

    Will we, or the Afghanis, be even one iota safer? No!

    There is absolutely nothing to gain except perhaps the honor of leaving on our terms. But it should not be about us.

    We went to Afghanistan to find bin Laden. We chased him to Pakistan where we killed him. It's over.

    There are no gains going forward so logically we should leave now.

    It's the smart and honorable course.

  95. And can we please re-visit the 'aid' budget set in place and left unquestioned year after year?

  96. Afghans live in a culture of honor that's directed by Islam. Even though, there hasn't been any apparent mass protests against this massacre, this atrocity will remain in their memory. United States, as part of their damage, should focus on impeding the rural Afghans joining the Taliban, and giving out "blood money" isn't as effective. United States should prosecute the Army sergeant and sentence him to a death penalty. By doing this, Afghans will be convinced that Americans, who claim to believe in the "rule of law", in reality, respect and practice it. Broadly, this chain of incidents show the very disconnect and lack of understanding among Americans (troops and Obama administration) regarding Afghans' values.

  97. Afghans' values? The outside world has invested heavily for ten years in these values, to no avail. To which values do you refer?

  98. A death penalty for the soldier in difference to the afghan values? But didn't the article say that the afghans were more upset by the Koran burning? How do you propose punishing the soldiers for that? And don't they all get to be innocent until proven guilty?

  99. Another reason for the different response to events: Having been a country suffering a long period of war, Afghans have seen people break down and lose control under the pressure. Afghans have a practical understanding of the psychological effects of war. There have been clues to this understanding in some reports on the aftermath of the massacre that quote Afghans as saying the soldier might have been “drunk” or “insane.” The Afghan human rights activist, Mr. Nadery, alluded to as much in the article – “heat of the moment” not “part of a regular military operation.” This doesn’t mean that Afghans expect the culprit to avoid punishment, but it does mean that they recognize the horrific mental anguish this war has caused everyone.

  100. Why I am outraged and saddened by the massacre, this is what war does to people. I believe the Afghans can understand the effects of war more than anyone else in the world. While this US soldier was deployed three times the Afghanis have been imposed in war for over thirty years. They know it makes you act irrationaly and overly violent. Not that war is an excuse, it is an impetus to disregard to life.

  101. RL,

    Your sarcasm falls a little short. I challenge you to find one single instance of a revenge killing in the United States for flag burning. We are not a perfect nation, but a former governor is reporting for jail today, and the super rich architect of the worst Ponzzi scheme in history rots in his cell. Yes, sometimes our laws are manipulated by the powerful, but so what? That changes nothing about the fact that Afghan culture is sick.

  102. Neil, you are slightly confused.

    While Afghan culture is sick, it does not excuse the killing of innocents by an American soldier. You cannot compare the burning of books to the violent murders and burning of innocent people.

    As far as the burning the Koran, blame our military leaders who are responsible for the orders they give, not the soldiers that carried them out. It seems that our advisors or so called "top dogs" are not doing their jobs. Culture in different countries must be studied and taught to our people or these type of errors will continue. Brilliance in the military is sorely missing and that is dangerous to our people fighting for us.

    Again, the burning of our flag is democratic, the burning of the Koran is a religious slap in the face to Muslims.. If an Afghan burned a Koran, he would be put to death. Two different cultures.

  103. The U.S. convictions and sentences that you cite are wonderful testaments to the strengths of U.S. culture over most others .... something that Americans can, and should, be proud of. However other cultures have strengths that we don't have, ones that you won't find celebrated in our narcissistic media. Narcissism sells. Demonstrating the humanity of all human beings across the world doesn't.

    I challenge you to find one single instance in the U.S. where a total stranger insists on sleeping on the floor with his wife and 4 kids while a total stranger half his age is given his bed to sleep in for as long as this visitor might wish (this was one wonderful experience, among many, that I had as a youthful visitor to Afghanistan). This does not make U.S. culture sick. It simply illustrates that different cultures have different kinds of strengths. If more Americans could get off our collective narcissistic throne and cease war-mongering, we might have a better world.

  104. As one American military official said, “When have the Taliban ever apologized for killing?”
    Yes, yes, because there is no difference between the two parties, right?

    If this very mentality is prevalent amongst the US military personnel in Afghanistan, then they have over stayed their never announced 'welcome' and should pack their bags.

  105. The religious among us might contend that God created man in His own image and that books (which are printed and published by humans) are created to serve man. But, then again, the values and priorities that most of us abide by are obviously different than those which are prevalent- and codified by law- in Afghanistan. Let's just accept the fact that our civilization is irreconcilable with theirs and clear the heck out while we still can. We've got enough trouble dealing with the Judeo-Christian extremists right here who have more in common with the Taliban and their ilk than either group seems to recognize.

  106. Individual human dignity is an artifact of wealthy Western cultures. In most of the world life is cheap. To Afghans life is ephemeral while the scriptures are eternal. It's a different point of view, but not indefensible. One can argue that the emergence of pervasive mental health issues in the US is in part due to an unhealthy fixation on individuality at the expense of the communal.

  107. Religion is dangerous. If religion just taught love and acceptance and equality of all then ok. But it doesn't. It teaches fear and hate and subjucation of women. And when you are born a woman, as I was, this is what really chafes me. Religion is wrong when it comes to modern values. We will not change Afghanistan's culture, ever. It is time to leave now.

  108. Civilized world is quick to point out one single act of renegade soldier, but forgets the supreme sacrifices of the other dead soldiers, who gave up life because civilized world could tweet around to glory sitting snugly at their homes and enjoy sipping their early morning coffee. No country wants to sacrifice their soldiers or wants to send them far away unless situation demands so. America has been safe for last 10 years because there are no safe havens for terrorists to plan and attack states and we know what had happened 10 years ago from afghan soil.

  109. We can no longer distinguish between friends or foes in Afghanistan. It is time to leave,

  110. I understand that writing in a Quran is just as much a desecration as burning. According to the reports then, these books were already defiled. Shouldn't the prisoners who did this be turned over to the Islamic authorities for well reported trials?

  111. I am still disturbed at how the massacre is being reported - even in the NYT. The line, "...that what APPEARS TO BE the massacre of 16 people at the hands of na American soldier ..." Appears to be? Didn't he turn himself in? Wasn't he flown out of Afghanistan? Why do we insisit on still doubting the matter?

  112. right comment, wrong inflection. I've noticed it in all publications, from HuffPo to the Weekly Standard - this rampaging Soldier did commit these heinous crimes, there's no arguing it. However, it's the number which denotes the "APPEARS TO BE". The confirmed tally is 3x KIA Afghan civilians. 5x civilians were evacuated to US hospitals for treatment. One AP photographer has become the constant source, and most of the quotes say "thinks he saw up to 16 bodies under blankets" The number certainly COULD be as high as 16x, but I'm disgusted by the general lack of journalistic integrity and apparent disinterest to verify stories prior to publication, NYT et al

  113. There is clearly a cultural disconnect between Afghan Muslims and Americans. That the accidental burning of Korans (there is zero evidence this was a deliberate act) is
    considered a graver sin that murdering people shows that life does not have the same value in Afghan culture. I don't have much sympathy for that. I don't much difference with the now defunct hindu custom of burning the wife after the death of the husband.
    Neither cultural values are worthy of surviving in the 21st century.

  114. I appreciate the article as it shows me an aspect of Afghan commitment to their religion that I had not realized before. It is not for me to judge that religion but to understand how important it is to them.
    And I am sure that parents everywhere love their children and want them to live.
    There are a lot of "values" that might be discarded in the 21st century and, my responsibility is to work on them in my own culture and let the Afghans do the same if they see fit. As you say, the Hindu custom of suttee is passing away, due to the Hindus decision.
    What value do we place on life when our adventures in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost the lives of tens of thousands of innocent people, in revenge for the deaths of less than four thousand on 9/11.

  115. Anybody remember Viet Nam? You have 18 year olds sent into combat chaos and guess what- massacres do happen- people lose it, they commit suicide or just take drugs. It is absolutely amazing to me that this doesn't happen more often. Think about it: you have young adults who can't even imagine the fear and conditions they will be/are exposed to and by a huge margin they are brave and upstanding.
    We have been in Afghanistan for 10 years and didn't realize Koran burning would be a bigger issue than the massacre? It is indefensible to have such a shallow understanding.
    Media? How is a media source "slanting things" relavant when there is a flood of information and a variety of sources available? It isn't like we are in cold war USSR.
    A country such as Afghanistan is not conquerable or changeable; what a terribel waste.

  116. What's the point that the writer is trying to make? That the reaction the massacre of 16 innocent people by a rogue soldier was too muted and should have been more violent? Or, that the reaction to Koran burning was too violent and should have been more muted?
    Why is it so surprising to find that Afghans (and some practitioners of Islam and other religions) suspect Americans think being a moslem for whom Koran is holy is somehow inferior when Republicans try to (successfully in many places) win election by branding Obama as a moslem and not a christian?

  117. It is amazingly ironic that organized religions, supposedly devoted to a divine being, is the root of so much hate, prejudice, war, abuse of children, disdain of women, torture, etc. And if you think Christianity is an exception, you better pull out your history books.............

  118. Is it really that surprising??? Entire village families have been massacred on a weekly basis for 33 YEARS now. For rural village Afghans, that has been a REALITY of daily life, ever since the Soviet Invasion in 1979. This is a deeply traumatized culture by now. Afghanistan WAS a religious country in the way the USA is now. I honestly think that it is the 33 years of WARFARE that has driven people into a much deeper reliance on religion. When all is destroyed, what do you have left except "God"???

  119. Wolf Kirchmeir of Ontario was nearly right but should have said:

    The Koran is not the physical object. The Koran is the life of the true Muslim, lived in submission to God. The purpose of life is not to "protect religion", it is do God's will as revealed by His prophets. God's will is that we live in peace.

    A religion is merely one of many ways in which humans create community. If it is used to spread hatred, or to justify cruelly and unjust treatment, it is a religion misued, no matter how much its proponents self-righteously claim that they acting in the name of God. Bad versions of all religions have cruelty, hatred, and self-righteousness in common. None of them do God's will.

    Religion misused is the enemy of faith.

  120. daryl orris: "What America can't understand is that the people of Afghanistan want a theocracy and not a democracy. They want an Islamic state."

    Really. And you know this how? Afghan society is not monolithic; it's multiethnic (majority Pashtun) and multilingual. While overwhelmingly Muslim, there are Sunnis (majority), Sha'i and a smattering of others. You think everyone was all jolly under the oppressive (even for Islam) Taliban rule? You think if they could decide tomorrow, Afghans would vote to have the Taliban back?

    Afghan society is still best described as tribal (and largely nomadic) and loyalty to the tribe is quite fierce (both a bane and a boon to our military/political goals). Tribal leaders exert great power and influence at the local level which is how they like it. The tribes have been at each other since there have been tribes and this particular "tradition" shows no signs of abating even in the 21st century after decades of war and occupation and the (temporary) unity such engender. Accordingly, it seems to me, a majority of Afghans would prefer to decide the role Islam plays in their daily lives at the local (tribal) level.

    Americans may well not understand a desire for religious rule, but harder still is understanding the tribal mentality and the nuances of Afghan society. We perhaps can understand a desire for governance at the most local level possible and an opposition to oppressive, one-size-fits-all, top-down, central-planning government rule.

  121. I guess the closest thing we have to the afghan tribalism would be libertarians: they despise central rule and their ultimate fantasy would be absolute local autonomy.

  122. The article is a sad and troubling example of spin that tries to convert a tragedy into renewed self-flattery: "Their women and children have been killed, but you see we do care more about human lives than they do; our 'values" are more humane and more civilized!" The false and all too easy assurance that the others (fill the blank) don't care about life as much as WE do is not used in this form for the first time and it is not used for the first time in this particular context either. It was already used in Vietnam where it served to justify inhumanity towards the Vietnam people. The function of this trope is to enact the reversal of what it says--it covers and enables one's inhumanity by projecting on the other his or her own supposed devaluation of their own life--when, in fact, it is us who does not value their life much ($230 per life as a compensation; I have seen comments suggesting the price to be lowered for them to $1.95). The fact that so far, fortunately, there has not been "angry violence" in response to the massacre is not and cannot be a measure of how much they love one's children or human life. According to this twisted logic, only killers are capable of "love"! The article also seems to suggest that the Afghans should perhaps be more violent if they want to have their lives more seriously. So what does the article tell me? Strip the thin layer of the "contemplative," self-flattering layer of the article, you will find beneath the old beast of racism.

  123. I have backed our Military and our DC incompetence for years. I feel sad for our deaths and injuries in Afghanistan. But, we must pull out now! The Afghans and the world yell at us for killing 16 people, however no one else talks about our military and US officials who have been killed by Afghan policeman and soldiers.

    Wake up Washington and smell the roses!

  124. "You give your money away for your life, but you give your life away for your religion." says it all. What can one say about a nation so completely infected by the religion virus that there is simply no alternative viewpoint possible?

    All evidence is against the existence of any God or a heaven. Our nature is to nurture our own lives, love and raise our children in a realistic way, and to protect the planet and its myriad lifeforms. The major religions just get in the way of all that with their myths of a better life beyond the grave.

    Islam desperately needs a reformer, like Martin Luther for the Roman Catholic church, but I don't see one arising in my lifetime. Maybe not for another century.
    Perhaps the children, getting a larger scientific worldview through their cell phones will find one and demand reform. Let the Mullahs utter their nonsense to their dwindling congregations, but let us not take them any more seriously than the ravings of a minor poet.

    Our troops in Afghanistan are doing nothing in the direction of the reform of Islam. Instead, we seem to be impeding all that, with our great "respect" for other religions. We also appear to be not much better than the occupiers of France and Belgium during the second world war -- only a little more civil.

  125. We go around saying the uninsured should be left to die, that the prenatal deserve more protection than the preschool, that women are sluts if they take birth control, and that forced penetration is seriously considered as a medical procedure. We leave the poor to fend from themselves, safe in the fact that our Savior told us to only help those we thought deserved it. Profit is to be maximized without regard for the consequences of our actions.


    Address those and then we'll talk about a "cultural disconnect" about the value of life.

  126. "Partly, many observers say, the Americans have had a lot of practice at apologizing for carnage, accidental and otherwise, and have gotten better at doing it quickly and convincingly. "

    Unmitigated rubbish! The vast majority of civilian killings never make it to our 'apology' department. They never see the light of day!

  127. "The vast majority of civilian killings never make it to our 'apology' department." Beautifully said! --- but instead of 'apology' department, maybe it should be The Department of Apology --- a new cabinet position.

  128. An impossible mission went wrong: eradicate terrorist within Afghanistan.
    The aftermath of commiting atrocities and intentionally mass murdering inocent children is going to add more enemies to the US in the Arab World.
    Refusing to leave Afghanistan in the name of US security may be taken as plain invation to sovereignty and the worst mistake since Vietnam.

  129. This is my second tour to Afghanistan. Have I met good people here? –absolutely; there are people here who yearn for individual liberty, who believe in (relatively) secular governance, who seek to better their lives and the lives of their children with help from the US, UN, GIRoA, etc. Conversely, are there bad people here? –absolutely; people who bastardize both Islam and Pashtunwali to justify their crimes, who indiscriminately kill civilians in order to intimidate the populace, who rape women and children to establish dominance.

    The article did strike one point accurately; there are fundamental and insurmountable differences on the meaning of life between Westerners (military or otherwise) and Afghans. Having said that, shame on you for inferring "apologies have improved things." After the Quran burnings, the only blowback here in this city came after the apologies from POTUS and senior CDRs forced the conversation into the bazaars and madrassas. Protests here were instigated by non-local (Pakistani) madrassa students; the majority of the native residents merely watched. When the protestors destroyed a number of local delivery trucks bringing supplies to the US base, they destroyed the drivers’ personal Qurans in their truck cabs. The residents were furious; Americans are ignorant, but Muslims should have known better – Quran protests were banned and all returned to normal. To most Afghans, 16 civilians dying at the hands of one evil man was just another Sunday.