In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, General David Petraeus condemned the plan of as small Florida church to burn Qurans on September 11th, once again emphasizing his acute awareness of the public diplomacy challenges the U.S. faces in the Middle East.
Last March, his testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee clearly laid out a military perspective on the linkage between the unresolved Israeli/ Palestinian conflict and the dangers facing US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, thereby establishing his position on the negative sentiments facing the US in the Middle East as a result of perceived US “favoritism” towards Israel.
His comments yesterday broadened the scope of issues which Petraeus directly links to America’s unpopularity in the Middle East and the difficulties of winning “hearts and minds” in Afghanistan.
The Wall Street Journal reported Petraeus as saying:
[The Quran burning] could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort.
It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems. Not just here [in Afghanistan], but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community.
In an email to the Associated Press Petraeus stated:
Images of the burning of a Quran would undoubtedly be used by extremists in Afghanistan – and around the world – to inflame public opinion and incite violence.
Dove World Ministry and its Pastor Terry Jones, who are organizing the Quran burning, are not listening to Petraus’ warning. On Tuesday, their blog posted “5 more reasons to burn the Koran.” They conclude that even if violence does happen in retaliation, they are not responsible.