The Pentagon reported Friday that five U.S. military personnel have been found responsible for the inadvertent burning of Korans at a prison in Afghanistan last month that prompted a week of rioting and violence in that country.
Five is one less than the number of U.S. troops who have been killed by supposed friendly Afghan Army troops and civilians since news of the Koran burnings broke Feb. 21.
Those killings are the latest horrific evidence that our military mission in Afghanistan — and the country itself — are rapidly unraveling, and that we should not wait until 2014 to depart. Why should any more U.S. military men and women have their lives endangered — not just by the Taliban outside their military bases, but by Afghan Army troops and civilians who may work in the same office with them?
According to the Los Angeles Times, two U.S. troops killed Thursday were shot by Afghan assailants on their base, including a man hired to teach Afghan soldiers to read. Two U.S. officers were shot at point-blank range Feb. 24, while working at their desks in what was supposed to be a secure command center.
In fact, one in five NATO troops killed this year, including Americans, have been the victims of “insider” shootings, the Times said.
Said one soldier, the message is: “Don’t turn your back, ever.”
Afghans clearly don’t want us in the country any longer. It’s hard to give much credit to statements by top U.S. brass that only a handful of insurgents are causing such problems, when U.S. troops are no longer safe, even on supposedly secure bases.
Meanwhile, religious leaders in Afghanistan are already demanding that the five people deemed responsible for the Koran burnings be turned over to the Afghan justice system. President Barack Obama’s apology for the burnings won’t suffice to soothe the insult to Islam, they say.
Of course, if the Americans were turned over to Afghan courts dominated by religious zealots, their guilt would be predetermined and their sentences severe.
All this began because the Korans were removed from prison inmates after it was determined they were being used to pass messages to terrorists, according to The Washington Post.
The Korans were originally placed in a storehouse at the prison, but they were mistakenly included with trash to be burned, the Post reported.
That points to an unfortunate accident, not any intentional effort to denigrate Islam or its holy text. But in Afghanistan today, such an accident merits the assassination of U.S. troops on their bases by formerly friendly Afghans. And it prompts demands for the surrender of Americans to Afghan authorities for anti-American show trials.
It’s time to ramp up our intelligence efforts and drone attacks from outside the country. But we should abandon Afghanistan to its murderous infighting and pull U.S. troops out of harm’s way, including harm from our alleged allies.