One thing is certain about the outcome of this November's presidential election -- whoever wins will have the monumental job of improving America's standing around the world. He or she (I'm one of the few who won't pronounce Hillary Clinton's campaign dead until it's official) should start by loudly proclaiming his (or her) anger and repugnance at the American soldier in Baghdad who used a copy of the Koran for target practice.
The U.S. military has already disciplined the solider and pulled him out of Iraq. A spokesman tried to prevent outrage from Muslim communities around the world by stressing that this was an isolated event.
"This incident is not representative of the professionalism of our soldiers or the respect they have for all faiths," Col. Bill Buckner, an American military spokesman, said to the Los Angeles Times on Monday. The U.S. command ordered an investigation into the shooting of the Muslim holy book, which was found May 11, he said.
The military should be commended for acting swiftly.
But what about those presidential hopefuls? Where are they now? Too busy ridding their campaigns of lobbyists and arguing with President Bush? A LexisNexis search found that none of the three candidates have mentioned the incident or expressed any bit of outrage at the soldier.
What are they waiting for? Do Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and John McCain only speak out after worldwide riots? Are they saving all their energy for the presidency? Unlikely. By the looks of the high-intensity campaigns, they aren't saving any room for dessert.
The candidates should speak out because what the soldier did was offensive not only to all Muslims, but to all religions and people of conscience. The U.S. government sent him to Iraq to serve this country's interests -- he was our responsibility and he acted shamefully.
Improving the image of the United States around the world will be especially important for the next president. The candidates should start the job now. Let's see how they would handle an American soldier who brings shame to this country-- it may be more telling of their abilities than how quickly they can attack one another. And, it's the right thing to do.