White House Press Secretary Jay Carney today offered “severe apologies” to Afghans for the burning of Korans by U.S. soldiers, suggesting kowtowing by the U.S. government to Afghanistan over the incident was necessary to avoid attacks on U.S. troops.
“One of the reasons that it’s appropriate to express our severe apologies for this incident is the kind of reaction that it could cause that risks putting our men and women in harms way, in further risk than they already are,” Carney said.
Carney made the statement as he confirmed to reporters flying with the President Obama aboard Air Force One to Miami that Obama had himself apologized in a letter to Afghan President Hamid Karzai for the incident.
Carney sought to minimize the move, saying the apology was only a brief portion of a three-page letter to Karzai focusing on a multitude of topics.
Carney also suggested that George W. Bush had done much the same thing after an American soldier shot a Koran up with bullets in Baghdad.
But then-White House Press Secretary Dana Perino said at the time Bush had only apologized to Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki “in the sense that he said that we take it very seriously.”
Carney said Afghans had “understandable sensitivities” about the issue and that the apology was therefore “wholly appropriate.” The Afghans expressed their understandable sensitivities today by killing two U.S. troops, rioting for the third day in a row, and burning Obama in effigy.