“Speak when you are angry – and you will make the best speech you ever regret”
– Lawrence J Peter
If these links don’t make you angry, nothing will:
I am very angry, but I hope this isn’t a post I will regret. Paul Sperry, posting for the New York Post writes that Pentagon officials are blaming our troops. While Mr. Sperry only goes on to quote Joint Chiefs Chairman Martin Dempsey as saying “There’s a percentage [of attacks] which are cultural affronts”, he does not provide any real substantiation of his claim that the Pentagon is blaming our troops. He does state that the Pentagon has “stepped up Islamic sensitivity training” for our troops. And that is what really gets my goat. I am not certain that this or even Chairman Dempsey’s quote means the Pentagon is really blaming our troops. What I do know is that the so-called sensitivity training is indicative of this current administration’s approach to foreign policy and the Middle East and is wrong beyond comprehension.
I need someone to help me understand why we are tiptoeing around on eggshells. The last I checked we are in Afghanistan because they hosted, aided and abetted a terrorist group that pulled off the most horrific attack to occur on our soil. I think that gives us a free pass to not have to submit to their customs, especially if these beliefs are a direct affront to our own beliefs and freedoms. Again, I will point out that the United States has a presence in Afghanistan because their country hosted the attack I noted above. I don’t have an issue with being respectful of others. I am fortunate to work in a multi-national organization. I have friends and co-workers from Germany, Italy, India, Indonesia, Belgium, Spain, Brazil, the Dominican Republic and other locales spread across the globe. We all get along with each other. We all respect each other and many of us are friends outside of the workplace. We don’t demand that others give complete deference to whatever our own personal beliefs may be. Complete deference to others beliefs is obedience, not respect. We certainly don’t kill each other or advocate murder as an appropriate response to perceived affronts.
Instead of forcing our troops to submit to the religious customs of the country that hosted our attack, perhaps we should be spending time teaching the Afghans tolerance. Instead of making our troops put aside their own beliefs and forcing them to treat with deference customs that include oppression and humiliation of women, violence, classification of our troops and citizens as infidels to be slain, we should be demanding that they respect the customs of our men and women. Instead of promoting a society and beliefs that entail looking for a multitude of reasons to find and react to any affront, perhaps we should help them to understand how respect the views of others. Is that too much to ask?
Paul Sperry quoted General Sher Mohammad Karimi, the Afghan National Army chief of staff earlier this month as stating “both sides need to do more to teach foreign troops Islamic traditions and values to reduce the chance of violent reactions to cultural slights. It is our duty to teach this to them. Our indifference causes the incident.” Maybe someone should teach the Afghans that “violent reactions to cultural slights” are unacceptable behavior that will not be tolerated.
It is an absolute travesty that we are forcing our own men and women who put their lives on the line to submit to the teachings of Islam, and forcing them to give up their own freedoms. What happened to what we stand for – freedom of speech, freedom of religion, equality for all? While our troops can’t be seen with a bible or wearing a cross, they have to handle the Koran with surgical gloves? Does the soldier doing repairs on a piece of equipment have to worry that while kneeling down to do repairs someone might see the bottoms of their shoes and thereby have grounds to kill them? The Muslims choose to fast, so I must fast as well or I am offending them? Our troops ought to be able to eat a full course meal whenever they want. Is it so farfetched to think that we are over there for no other reason than we were attacked without provocation and you know what, it offends us when you engage in practices representative of the bloodthirsty killers that came to the United States and slaughtered thousands of civilians? We can be considerate, but we should not put their beliefs in any way ahead of the freedoms and beliefs that we and our troops hold dear. Anything less is cowardice at best.
This type of wrongheaded, apologist thinking is rife in our current administration and puts people’s lives and loyalties in jeopardy, and is the kind of approach to diplomacy that has spread ever more intolerance in the Middle East and brought the entire area to the brink of a monumental war. We can not afford four more years of this blundering, inept attempt at diplomacy through capitulation. The only apology that should be required here is one from the President of United States to our troops and our people.