UPDATE: The ISW has filed a report stating that the very people to whom Mr. Obama apologized are our enemies:
Most of the protests are not spontaneous or self-organizing outbursts of anti-Americanism, but rather organized violence orchestrated by insurgent groups, Iran, and Afghan political factions aiming to harm their local rivals. Neighboring Iran has utilized its media outlets, especially radio, to influence Afghan demonstrators to be destructive during their protests. The Taliban have issued multiple statements encouraging violent actions. President Karzai and his administration, in contrast, have actively tried to quell violence.The Afghan Response to the 2012 Koran Burning Incident
A cell block at a new detention centre is seen at the U.S. Bagram Air Base, north of Kabul November 15, 2009. The prison was built at a cost of $60 million.Cryptome
In response to an incident in which several copies of the Koran were allegedly burned at Parwan Detention Facility, Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, President Obama reflexively delivered a letter, through Ambassador Crocker, to Afghanistan President Hamid Karzia. The letter is quoted as stating that "Mr. Obama gave his "sincere apologies" and expressed "deep regret for the reported incident." "The error was inadvertent; I assure you that we will take the appropriate steps to avoid any recurrence, to include holding accountable those responsible." CBS News
The facts of the incident have not been widely published, but initial reports suggest that the Americans running the facility provided copies of the Koran to the prisoners(who are detained for supporting the insurgency - aka the Taliban or Taliban Sympathizers) so that they could continue to practice their religion while detained. According to reports, several of the Korans where confiscated due to the fact that rather than using them to pray, the prisoners were using the Korans to pass messages amongst themselves. To do this required that they write messages on the pages of the Korans, thereby descrating the Holy Books in the eyes of those practicing Islam and making them contraband in the eyes of their American Jailers. The books once confiscated eventually found their way to a burn pile where they were to be desposed of by burning.
As the Korans were being placed in the burn pile, several Afghani workers, who were helping the Americans burn contraband items, recognized that the books were the Koran and retrieved the Korans from the burn pile. These Afghani workers then where allowed to take the resucued Korans to a local Mosque, where they reported the incident to local Immans. From there the incident was quickly siezed upon by Anti-American jihadist and used as an excuse for demonstrations and out right murder of American personnel.
To date over thirty people have been killed as a result of this incident. Their deaths are not the result of the fires that burned the Korans, but by the fires of hatred stoked by the intolerance of evil men.
In my humble opinion, rather than immediately apologizing for the incident and bowing to the instigators of the demonstrations and murder, President Obama should have issued a speech to the people of Afghanistan. He should have first reminded the people of Afghanistan why American troops are currently occupying their country and that had the people of Afghanistan refused to harbor Al Queda and refused to allow the Taliban to sieze control of their country then most Americans would only remember Afghanistan as the land in Rambo III where the great American warrior helped the Mujahdeen rid their country of the scourge of Russia. He could remind the Afghani people that had it not been for American Stinger Missiles and the funding of American dollars that they would still be under the iron fist of Mother Russia.
He could then remind the Afghani people that rather than obliterating their entire country as a result of an Act of War against the United States, that we entered their country to find friends and to help those friends find freedom from a totalitarian government thinly disguised as a religous caliphate. He could remind them that we gave them the opportunity to renew their country and to enter into the modern world.
After politely, but firmly refreshing the historical memories of the Afghani people, Mr. Obama could follow with an explanation to the Afghani people of the consequences of their actions. He could explain to them that their country is at a tipping point. If they want nothing more for their chilren than a legacy of death and war then they should continue to act in their current manner, they should stay their current course. However, if they want a country of peace and stability where their children can have the freedom and autonomy that so many Afghanis claim to cherish then they can accept the hand of friendship from the United States, roll up their sleeves and get to work on building their country. That they should focus their energy on learning how to behave as a civilized people who respect the rights of others and who value the sanctity of life. He should explain that their failure to do so will result in continued conflict with the West and that in the end they will only experience more death and more misery. Whether America and her allies leave today or in twenty years or in a hundred, their inability to achieve a modicum of civility, to find a bit of tolerance for other cultures, and to express their anger without murder will result in their country continuing to be a third world nation in which only those who have the most guns and who have the will to use them will be free. All others will be subject to their will and continue to suffer.
He should end the speech with assurances to the Afghani people that the United States has no desire to stay in their country one minute more than is necessary and that while there, we will provide their culture with the respect that it deserves. They will also have to provide us with tolerance and with the presumption that incidents, such as the Koran burning, did not originate out of disrespect for their Holy Book, but rather from the actions of the radicals who brought us to their country in the first place. In essence they will need to grow up and behave as men who respect God and who respect their families. He needs to assure them that the path they follow to the future can be one of peace or one in which they continue to suffer and to die for men who want nothing more than to control their every action. The choice is theirs.