GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich on Thursday denounced President Obama's apology for the burning of Korans by U.S. soldiers. He accused Obama of "consistently apologizing to a people who do not deserve the apology of the president of the U.S."
Gingrich was reacting to Obama's formal apology to the Afghan authorities within hours of news reports that an Afghan soldier had killed U.S. troops and wounded others in retaliation for the Koran burning incident. Digital Journal reports that violent protests began in Afghanistan a few days ago after Afghan workers who witnessed burning of copies of the Koran and commentaries on the Koran at the U.S. Bagram Air Field spread the news. U.S. military authorities have said the burning was a mistake and offered apologies.
Gingrich, according to The Washington Post, lashed out angrily at Obama for the formal apology he made to the Afghan authorities, saying it was the Afghans who owe Americans an apology for the deaths of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
MSNBC reports that Gingrich, campaigning in Washington state, told 500 people at the Bing Crosby Theater on Thursday: “The president apologized for the burning, but I haven't seen the president demand that the government of Afghanistan apologize for the killing of two young Americans.”
The Wall Street Journal reports Gingrich said Obama had "surrendered" by apologizing to the Afghans. According to The Wall Street Journal, Gingrich said: “There is something profoundly wrong when the commander in chief refuses to defend the integrity and the lives of the people who serve under him and instead abjectly crawls to apologize to the country whose religious fanatics [attack U.S. troops].”
The Washington Post reports Gingrich said further: “There seems to be nothing that radical Islamists can do to get Barack Obama’s attention in a negative way and he is consistently apologizing to people who do not deserve the apology of the president of the United States period. And, candidly, if Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan, doesn’t feel like apologizing then we should say good bye and good luck, we don’t need to be here risking our lives and wasting our money on somebody who doesn’t care.”
The White House had apparently anticipated criticism of Obama's formal apology to the Afghan authorities. Before Gingrich made his comments, White House spokesman Jay Carney, seeking to counter expected criticism of the president's apology, told reporters who were travelling to Miami with the president on Air Force One: “It is wholly appropriate, given the sensitivities to this issue, the understandable sensitivities. His primary concern as commander in chief is the safety of the American men and women in Afghanistan, of our military and civilian personnel there. And it was absolutely the right thing to do.”
Carney, according to The Wall Street Journal, said Obama sent a "lengthy, three-page letter on a host of issues" to Karzai which included "several sentences about the incident in which American personnel burned the Islamic religious texts." Carney said Obama's apology was in attempt to quell the violence which has led to the deaths of two U.S. soldiers. He also said the U.S. military was investigating the death of the soldiers.
But Gingrich later on Thursday, at a rally in Coeur d'Alene in northern Idaho, pressed on with his criticism of Obama's foreign policy, saying: “This president has gone so far at appeasing radical Islamists that he is failing in his duty as commander in chief."
Digital Journal reports that Gingrich has intensified attacks on Obama recently. While discussing the threat of Iran before a crowd of about 4,000 people at the Oral Roberts University campus, he said defeating Obama was "...in fact, a duty of national security" because "he is the most dangerous president in modern American history."
MSNBC also reports that Gingrich at a campaign event in Spokane, said Obama was "the greatest national security disaster that we've had in my lifetime."