Petraeus Warns of Consequences from US Islamophobia

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.

Eli Clifton

Eli Clifton reports on money in politics and US foreign policy. He is a co-founder of the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. Eli previously reported for the American Independent News Network, ThinkProgress, and Inter Press Service.



  1. Agree completely. On the other hand, I’d like to see more Muslims expressing outrage over the killings and mutilations meted out to adulterers and the like in parts of the Islamic world. A few crazy Christians burning copies of the Quran is less offensive to human decency than the stoning to death of a young woman accused of adultery, or the murder of a young couple who were so bold as to elope. Western commenters as well as Muslims should be far more vocal about these outrages, which are far worse than the ignorance displayed by the Florida pastor or the prejudices of the “ground-zero mosque” opponents. The latter deserve to be rebutted and satirized. The Muslim fanatics who take life for “crimes” like adultery ought to be condemned in the harshest terms or, even better, separated from the rest of humanity (alas, such separation appears to be a less than practical proposition).

  2. Jon, these stonings are more often reported than executed. The attack on the woman on the Time magazine cover was not carried out by any gov’t but by a reactionary family. Furthermore, we don’t hear about these same honor killings in India and Sri Lanka when they are committed by non-Muslims.

    By the way, Muslims DO condemn these actions but they aren’t offered much media exposure. Take tomorrow for example. Tomorrow Muslims the world over will celebrate Eid. In America this is a uniquely beautiful, uniquely American celebration.

    In the Muslim world the whole community doesn’t go to the Mosque, the women will stay home preparing to entertain guests and family for the next couple of days. But in America, driven perhaps by dislocation and homesickness men, women and children will gather (in Dallas at least) at the convention center. Shia, Sunni and Sufis will all pray together. The Ummah gathered from all over the world will be dressed in their own most colorful, traditional garb.

    This is very much like Easter, only Easter doesn’t unite every denomination in one space. The dress of the women is the most beautiful part to me, you can see Southeast Asian, Sub-Saharan, North African, Middle Eastern, Iranian, and Latin dress. For a lay anthropologist like myself it’s a real treat.

    I got my local alternative news weekly to come photograph this. What does rankle me is that CAIR and the other local Islam/Muslim advocacy groups don’t sell this better to the media. They don’t engage with the media well at all. They should have advocates calling in to radio shows when Islam/Muslim issues come up, but whole programs will go on without a single Muslim voice. Often, I am that voice, a self appointed asshole.

    I will try to forward a link to the photos when they come up, here. What is really redeeming for me is that this IS uniquely American. It doesn’t happen in their home countries with the diversity we have here. I don’t know that England or even France enjoy the broad diversity and social comfort to worship that we do. That said, this may be endangered, from natural forces within the community and fears of the American anti-Muslim feeling.

    The fact that you’re not likely to see any evidence of this on TV is proof that the problem of “lack of condemnation” is unfair. There are essentially no Muslim voices in the media; and the blame for this lies at least as much with the media as with the Muslim community itself.

  3. “. . . more often reported than executed.” That may be, but people are stoned, hands are chopped off, and the couple that eloped really were murdered by relatives. The fact is that Christians (wacky though they may be) no longer rack people or burn them at the stake, while barbarous punishments for ridiculous “crimes” are still meted out in the Muslim world. I’d just like to see Muslims look within occasionally as opposed to acting up over a cartoon or a foolish incendiary priest. And please don’t bother to tell me that depictions of the Prophet are considered sacrilegious by Muslims. I know that; but I really couldn’t care less.

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