It is noteworthy that General David Petraeus appeared yet again on the evening news last night, repeating his very real concerns and continued dismay over the planned burning of a Koran by Preacher Terry Jones. General Petraeus was emphatic in his denouncing the act, firmly believing that it will lead directly to increased American casualties: “General David Petraeus told NBC television that images of the Koran burning would be used by Islamic extremists to fuel anti-Americanism and harm the US mission in Afghanistan and other areas in the world. “We’re concerned that the images from the burning of a Koran would be used in the same way that extremists used images from Abu Ghraib that they would in a sense be indelible”, Petraeus told NBC. “They would be used by those who wish us ill, to incite violence and to inflame public opinion against us and against our mission here in Afghanistan, as well as our missions undoubtedly around the world, he added.” Likewise similar concerns have now been voiced by General Ray Odierno, who recently stepped down as the ranking officer in charge of our military mission in Iraq. As of last night the F.B.I. has announced that a reaction to the burning of a Koran is imminent and the State Department has put American embassies and consulates on a full alert worldwide in expectation of their being targets of attack.
It is also noteworthy that in light of their current concerns, neither Petraeus or Odierno so much as uttered a passing reference to the controversy surrounding the planned construction of an Islamic Cultural Center in lower Manhattan. In light of this it’s interesting to note the following. General Petraeus has a Ph.D. in International Relations from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University and General Odierno received a Masters in nuclear effects engineering and national security and strategy from the Naval War College. Thus a reasonable and well informed observer of political affairs would conclude, that in the midst of all the concern about the expected fallout from burning a Koran, both of these well educated and politically astute Generals would at least mention the planned construction project in lower Manhattan if it was even remotely related to issues of national security and safety. Yet, they didn’t. Why because both of them know what many of the rest of us know as well, that it’s not relevant or germane to what we can expect to be the follow on to the reckless folly that is scheduled to transpire this coming Saturday in Florida.
There are those among us who will continue to conflate the issues of burning a Koran and constructing an Islamic Cultural Center in their ill conceived and conceptually flawed argument as to how these issues relate one to the other or how both relate to the debate over national security and public safety. In trying to tie the two together they continue to reveal just how little they understand of the importance of the issue at hand, which is the burning a Koran on American soil by an American preacher for all the world to see. What we have here is a crass attempt to politicize one issue so as to distract the public from the other. In their silence on the issue of the Islamic Cultural Center, Generals Petraeus and Odierno, have effectively rendered this issue as something of little or no practical value in the current debate. It’s time for those who are trying to use the “Mosque Controversy” as a foil or counterargument to the public concern with Preacher Jones’ recklessness to realize the folly of their position and get on the right side of the issue once and for all.
Steven J. Gulitti