The riots and violence in Afghanistan over some accidentally burned Qur'ans are following a script that by now is all too drearily familiar. As we have seen over the years with the riots over the Mohammed cartoons, Pope Benedict's comments about violence in Islam, or false rumors of Qur'ans flushed down toilets, violent Muslim overreactions to slights are immediately followed by anxious apologies from American leaders. Rather than defusing the anger, however, such groveling merely encourages more contempt and violence.
So too with the current riots, which have killed 30 people, including 4 U.S. soldiers, two of them in the high-security Interior Ministry. Another seven Sunday were wounded in a grenade attack by demonstrators. This violence, moreover, has been encouraged by mullahs in mosques, teachers in madrassas, and members of parliament. Predictably, the Taliban––with whom our government is eager to talk peace––has encouraged people to "turn their guns on the foreign infidel invaders." President Obama has responded to this incitement and violence by offering his personal "sincere apologies," professing his "deep regret," and vowing to hold those responsible accountable. Defense Secretary Panetta and NATO commander John Allen also apologized.