February 25th, 2010

Why America Should Apologize

The following article was also published at Lew Rockwell and Information Clearinghouse.



photo credit: kevindooley

In an interview this week about his forthcoming book, No Apology: The Case for American Greatness, Mitt Romney was asked what he meant when saying that America need not apologize. He responded as follows:

While we’ve made some mistakes, we have a record of promoting freedom, peace, and prosperity throughout the world. There is a view in Washington that America will be eclipsed by other nations. I think that would have grave consequences for freedom and world peace.

True to form, he did not actually answer the question. He first made a highly superficial concession that we’ve made some mistakes. (Which? How often? How damaging?) He then goes on to blabber about a “view” that other nations might “eclipse” America, something he feels would have “grave consequences”. How this is in any way connected to the original question is anyone’s best guess.

Mitt Romney, unsurprisingly, is wrong. He’s not the only one spouting this hollow rhetoric, however. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said just last week during his CPAC speech that we should “never, ever, ever” apologize for America. Former Governor Sarah Palin said last fall that we “should never apologize for our country”. George H.W. Bush said, as President, that “I’ll never apologize for the United States. Ever. I don’t care what the facts are.”

These shallow and ignorant statements are an affront to any sense of justice, morality, and civic virtue. If, as Romney suggests, America has “made some mistakes”, it might just follow that, depending on their severity and damage, we should apologize and/or make reparations. To see where this might apply, and in stark contrast to the superficiality of Romney and his like-minded cohorts, let’s dig a bit deeper and consider a few examples, in no particular order:

Iran Air Flight 655

President Bush’s offensive statement above was no isolated incident. After a Navy missile destroyed an Iranian civilian airplane in 1988, killing all 290 passengers (including 66 children), Bush, who was Vice President and campaigning to become President, said in response to the event: “I will never apologize for the United States — I don’t care what the facts are… I’m not an apologize-for-America kind of guy.” You can only imagine how the family, friends, and Iranian population at large felt about these remarks by the soon-to-be leader of the so-called free world.

Vietnam war

America’s role in Vietnam was not isolated only to the intense and protracted military engagement. As Martin Luther King, Jr., pointed out in a 1967 speech, our entanglements were both historical and highly damaging. Though this article’s brevity require I exclude all but a portion, the reader is very much encouraged to read it in its entirety.

They must see Americans as strange liberators. The Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1945 after a combined French and Japanese occupation, and before the Communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. Even though they quoted the American Declaration of Independence in their own document of freedom, we refused to recognize them. Instead, we decided to support France in its reconquest of her former colony.

Our government felt then that the Vietnamese people were not “ready” for independence, and we again fell victim to the deadly Western arrogance that has poisoned the international atmosphere for so long. With that tragic decision we rejected a revolutionary government seeking self-determination, and a government that had been established not by China (for whom the Vietnamese have no great love) but by clearly indigenous forces that included some Communists. For the peasants this new government meant real land reform, one of the most important needs in their lives.

For nine years following 1945 we denied the people of Vietnam the right of independence. For nine years we vigorously supported the French in their abortive effort to recolonize Vietnam.

Before the end of the war we were meeting eighty percent of the French war costs. Even before the French were defeated at Dien Bien Phu, they began to despair of the reckless action, but we did not. We encouraged them with our huge financial and military supplies to continue the war even after they had lost the will. Soon we would be paying almost the full costs of this tragic attempt at recolonization.

What do the peasants think as we ally ourselves with the landlords and as we refuse to put any action into our many words concerning land reform? What do they think as we test our latest weapons on them, just as the Germans tested out new medicine and new tortures in the concentration camps of Europe? Where are the roots of the independent Vietnam we claim to be building? Is it among these voiceless ones?

We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation’s only non-Communist revolutionary political force — the unified Buddhist church. We have supported the enemies of the peasants of Saigon. We have corrupted their women and children and killed their men. What liberators?

Now there is little left to build on — save bitterness. Soon the only solid physical foundations remaining will be found at our military bases and in the concrete of the concentration camps we call fortified hamlets. The peasants may well wonder if we plan to build our new Vietnam on such grounds as these? Could we blame them for such thoughts? We must speak for them and raise the questions they cannot raise. These too are our brothers.

Fast forward to the event that began America’s commitment of soldiers to war in a distant land. The false-flag Gulf of Tonkin incident served as political fodder for Robert McNamara and others to further involve America in the “cold war” worldwide battle to “contain” communism. The alleged goal was to prevent a communist takeover of South Vietnam; after over a decade of American involvement, and the groundswell of public opposition, our government removed its military support from the unsuccessful campaign. One Vietnamese in every ten had become a casualty of war (1.5 million killed, 3 million wounded), and the Vietnamese had been embroiled in resistance to foreign intervention or occupation for 116 years. Almost 60,000 Americans were killed, over 300,000 wounded, and all for an unncessary military campaign desired by a few politicians.

1953 Iranian coup d’état

The CIA helped overthrow the democratically-elected Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq, install the authoritarian monarch Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (the “Shah”) in his place (so much for “spreading democracy”, right?), and train his secret police force.

Eisenhower consider this project (“Operation Ajax”) a “successful secret war” though the event is now widely recognized as being a massive failure since the resulting “blowback” heavily contributed to the 1979 Iranian Revolution, which overthrew the Shah and replaced his pro-Western monarchy with the Islamic Republic of Iran, certainly no friend of the West.

In 2000, globalist and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright stated “The Eisenhower administration believed its actions were justified for strategic reasons. … But the coup was clearly a setback for Iran’s political development. And it is easy to see now why many Iranians continue to resent this intervention by America in their internal affairs. (emphasis added)” While not an apology, this recognition is at least a petty needle in a voluminous haystack of long-standing imperial arrogance.

1973 Chilean coup d’état

On October 16, 1970, the CIA sent a message to its branch in Chile which read:

It is firm and continuing policy that Allende be overthrown by a coup. It would be much preferable to have this transpire prior to October 24 [1970] but efforts in this regard will continue vigorously beyond this date. We are to continue to generate maximum pressure toward this end, utilizing every appropriate resource. It is imperative that these actions be implemented clandestinely and securely so that the USG and American hand be well hidden…

Just shy of three years later, and in the alleged name of rooting out Communism, the CIA was successful in helping to overthrow the government of democratically-elected President Salvador Allende through a military coup. The military junta that consolidated control of the government was backed by the U.S. government, composed of the leaders of Chile’s various military branches, and headed by General Augusto Pinochet.

Around three months of riots and public resistance to the coup followed, leading to the arrest of tens of thousands of people who were held in the National Stadium. The Rettig Report determined that 2,279 individuals were killed by the military dictatorship for political reasons or as a result of political violence. The Valech Report stated that 31,947 individuals were tortured, and 1,312 were exiled. Two-thirds of these instances of brutal oppression occurred within one year of the U.S.-assisted coup.

Banana Wars

The military interventions into Central America and Caribbean countries in the early 1900s received this nickname because of their primary purpose, which was to preserve American commercial interests in the region (banana production chief among them). The list of countries whose governments the U.S. overthrew and occupied shows the magnitude of military force being used to clear the way for the American corporate prostitution of these countries’ natural resources.

Smedley Butler, who at the time of his death was the most decorated Marine in U.S. history, was highly involved in these wars and later stunned an audience recounting his participation in and assessment of these wars:

I spent 33 years…being a high-class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer for capitalism….

I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1916. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City [Bank] boys to collect revenue in. I helped in the rape of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street….

In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested….I had…a swell racket. I was rewarded with honors, medals, promotions….I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate a racket in three cities. The Marines operated on three continents…

Iraq

From 1990 to 2003, and initiated at the U.S. government’s behest, the U.N. imposed sanctions on Iraq after Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait. After the Iraqis were forced out, the sanctions began with the U.N. mandating that the country comply with Security Council Resolution 687 which demanded that Iraq eliminate its weapons of mass destruction and that it recognize the nation-state of Kuwait.

Rolf Ekeus, the U.N. representative responsible for identifying and destroying Iraq’s weaponry, had already certified that 817 out of Iraq’s 819 long-range missiles had been destroyed. This report was a political liability for President Bill Clinton, who had his new Secretary of State Madeleine Albright declare that sanctions would continue until Saddam was removed from office.—a much different purpose than their original one. This led to Saddam refusing to work with the weapons inspectors any longer, leaving only the hopes of Clinton’s administration that heavy suffering imposed on the Iraqi citizens would somehow bring down the despot.

Half a million children are estimated to have died as a result of the sanctions—a number which Albright once declared in an interview as being “worth it”. In 2000, Christian Aid observed that:

The immediate consequence of eight years of sanctions has been a dramatic fall in living standards, the collapse of the infrastructure, and a serious decline in the availability of public services. The longer-term damage to the fabric of society has yet to be assessed but economic disruption has already led to heightened levels of crime, corruption and violence. Competition for increasingly scarce resources has allowed the Iraqi state to use clan and sectarian rivalries to maintain its control, further fragmenting Iraqi society.

During the dozens years of sanctions, bombs were being dropped on Iraq almost daily, while the sanctions continued a long campaign of human rights violations. The U.N.’s humanitarian aid chief, Dennis Halliday, resigned in protest, as did his successor, Hans von Sponeck. Together, they wrote that:

The death of some 5–6,000 children a month is mostly due to contaminated water, lack of medicines and malnutrition. The US and UK governments’ delayed clearance of equipment and materials is responsible for this tragedy, not Baghdad.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki

One cannot think of an action committed by this country’s government that necessitates an apology without having the bombing of these two Japanese cities come to mind. President Harry S. Truman ordered the bombing of these two cities, filled with hundreds of thousands of civilians, in supposed retaliation for the attack on Pearl Harbor, a military installation. The lives of some 200,000 civilian men, women, and children were immediately snuffed out, or slowly and miserably drained through the effects of radiation poisoning, in one of the greatest war crimes this nation has ever committed.

Consider two variants on the action. Would so many Americans cheer the retaliation if instead of sending the bombs, our military had rounded up each individual in the two cities and murdered them in gas chambers? Or, if Germany had dropped atomic bombs on cities instead of our government, would those responsible not have been charged as war criminals and sentenced to death at Nuremberg?

Guantanamo

Guantanamo Bay is the military detention facility where the U.S. government imprisons alleged terrorists, beginning in 1991 when George H.W. Bush used it to round up HIV-positive Haitian immigrants who were forcefully separated from other refugees after the 1991 Haitian coup. The first captives in George Bush’s “war on terror” arrived from Kandahar, some 8,000 miles away, on January 11, 2002, and locked up in wire cages. In order to sidestep the rights guaranteed to prisoners of war by the Geneva Conventions, they were labeled “unlawful (and later ‘enemy’) combatants”.

Out of 775 total detainees sent to Guantanamo, only 245 currently remain. 420 have been released without being charged for any crime—sent packing with nary an apology or compensation for the years of their lives lost. And thus far only three (three!) individuals have been charged with a crime:

  • David Hicks was found guilty under retrospective legislation introduced in 2006 of providing material support to terrorists in 2001.
  • Salim Hamdan took a job as chauffeur driving Osama bin Laden.
  • Ali al-Bahlul made a video celebrating the attack on the USS Cole (DDG-67).

Thus, the fruits of this imperial institution are the successful prosecution of a man who donated some money or supplies, a car driver, and a videographer. The lives of hundreds of individuals have been forcefully altered through the decision of the U.S. government to imprison them without being charged of a crime, all in the name of allegedly providing security for Iraq/Afghanistan and our “homeland”. According to some sources, the government now plans to hold 47 of these individuals in infinite detention, neither giving them an opportunity to contest the (likely erroneous) allegations made against them, nor releasing them for lack of evidence.

Conclusion

The list, unfortunately, could continue. The examples cited above are a mere handful in an otherwise lengthy chronicle of circumstances in which the U.S. government has been directly responsible for denying other individuals the right to their life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness.

Should America offer no apology for any of the aforementioned atrocities? Should our government be able to wash its hands so easily of these actions by merely declaring them necessary for “protecting America’s interests”, “spreading democracy”, or some similarly pathetic response? And should the ignorance and/or arrogance of current politicians be tolerated when they declare that “we should not apologize for America”?

History makes at least one thing absolutely clear: regardless of the stated purposes and proffered justifications, the United States of America has been the cause and source of untold death, destruction, and damage. To say that we should not apologize for these stains on our nation’s standard of liberty is not only a reflection of the individual’s inadequate level of morality, but an indication that he or she might one day participate in similar atrocities.

53 Responses to “Why America Should Apologize”

  1. Kelly W.
    February 26, 2010 at 12:03 am #

    Many Repubs like to quote Reagan. Reagan apologized for the internment of the Japanese during WWII.

    As I recall, the State of Missouri apologized for the extermination order of Boggs.

    In my trips to Germany in 2004 and 2007, I apologized for America many times.

    I think America should apologize for what they’ve done to the Constitution the past quarter century.

    I think Cheney should apologize for his existence on the earth.

  2. Jeffrey T
    February 26, 2010 at 1:01 am #

    Here here!

  3. Chris
    February 26, 2010 at 1:26 am #

    Fantastic article! I’ve never understood politicians’ insistence on never ever apologizing. If you make a mistake, you ought to apologize for it. Every 5-year old knows that. How arrogant is it to insist that we’ve always made the right decisions.

    I wanted to add, that it seems like a bit of a stretch to say that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were done in retaliation to the attack on Pearl Harbor. These events occurred almost four years apart. The bombings were executed when Japan ignored America’s call for surrender. Of course I’m not saying it was right… the point is well taken.

  4. Zen
    February 26, 2010 at 9:19 am #

    There is a attitude among many, to see only our faults, and only other nations strengths. This leads to a distorted world view. Romney’s counterpoint, if I understand him, is not that we need never apologize, but that while admitting our faults, we should remember our strengths as well. We are a boogeyman for a lot of people, but I don’t see a lot of better alternatives out there.

  5. a concerned mommy
    February 26, 2010 at 11:36 am #

    It’s a fine line we have to walk. America is awesome! Our Constitution is awesome! But we don’t need to be so arrogant as to say that mistakes haven’t been made. The fact is that we should apologize where necessary, but we need not apologize for being exceptional.

  6. Jeffrey T
    February 26, 2010 at 1:21 pm #

    Zen,

    Is that what Romney says? Really? Or are you simply projecting your own opinion onto his?

  7. Michelle
    February 26, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

    I like that you are very unbiased in pointing out errors of politicians. So many people are quick to support everything the person they voted for does just because they voted for them. I don’ t know who you have voted for or supported, but you have named several well-liked conservatives (or “conservatives”) in your criticism and I think that is very healthy. No matter how good the people we vote for are we should always keep on top of things and call them out when they steer the wrong direction. Keep it up!

  8. Jeffrey T
    February 26, 2010 at 1:40 pm #

    Sorry, Zen, I don’t mean to be accusative. I just know so many people who have a favorite politician, and they’ll recast everything that politician says or does in a way that sounds good to them. That is, rather than actually listening to what the politician is saying, they’ll hear what they want to hear.

  9. Quincy
    February 26, 2010 at 1:41 pm #

    You’re right, of course, that the United States has made mistakes. You are also right to call for the nation’s political leaders to humbly and frankly apologize for the tragic consequences of these mistakes. I wonder, though, if you go a little too far in your indictment. Perhaps there is a more reasonable and charitable reading of these politicians’ statements.

    No sane person could believe the agents and representatives of the United States are infallible. And, in fact, political leaders do sometimes apologize for their subordinates’ mistakes. Just for fun, I googled “president apology” and immediately found the following two examples:

    Bush apologizing for Abou Grahib: “I told him I was sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners and the humiliation suffered by their families.”
    U.S. general Jeffrey Hammond apologizing for a soldier’s use of a Quran for target practice.

    I don’t doubt that a little effort would reveal many more apologies. Probably not frequent enough or sincere enough, but apologies nonetheless.

    It’s easy to fall into the attitude of condemning all politicians as corrupt, incompetent, power hungry, or just plain evil. I’ve felt that way before myself. Nevertheless, I think that in reality most U.S. politicians are sincerely interested in serving their country. This doesn’t mean that the policies they espouse are any less wrong, but it does urge temperance in criticism.

    I think a more reasonable and charitable interpretation of these politicians’ refusal to apologize is that they are refusing to apologize for American principles.

  10. Connor
    February 26, 2010 at 2:15 pm #

    Chris

    I wanted to add, that it seems like a bit of a stretch to say that the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were done in retaliation to the attack on Pearl Harbor. These events occurred almost four years apart. The bombings were executed when Japan ignored America’s call for surrender.

    This is factually incorrect, as the Japanese had conditionally surrendered. They simply didn’t want their emperor charged with war crimes, as their culture considers the emperor to be deity. FDR refused and pressed on, dropping the bombs unnecessarily. They were not used defensively, as the Japanese forces attacked and retreated. It cannot, then, be legitimately argued that the subsequent massacre of nearly 200,000 Japanese was done in defense; indeed, the act was primarily a retaliatory strike to cripple the country that had attacked us.

    Zen,

    Romney’s counterpoint, if I understand him, is not that we need never apologize, but that while admitting our faults, we should remember our strengths as well.

    I refer you to Jeff’s comment. Romney has said repeatedly that “we shouldn’t apologize”. He has added no qualifiers, and the faults he “admits” are neither listed nor apologized for. Romney simply uses the superficial reference as a concession to placate people who might otherwise object.

    acm,

    The fact is that we should apologize where necessary, but we need not apologize for being exceptional.

    Agreed.

    Quincy,

    It’s easy to fall into the attitude of condemning all politicians as corrupt, incompetent, power hungry, or just plain evil.

    I’m not condemning all politicians—only those who make sweeping statements disabusing themselves of any responsibility to apologize for bad decisions/actions.

  11. Doug Bayless
    February 26, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

    Good article. I’ve often been concerned about the message ‘never apologize’ sends. It is at odds with every moral that I — and supposedly many of my countrymen – believe.

    Arrogance, indifference, and pride seem the natural fruit of the ‘never apologize’ line. It troubles me that it’s so often the go-to-one-liner that garners such passionate praise amongst political masses.

    If you wanna say “never apologize for boldness in doing good, bravery in defending good, compassion, charity” whatever, than that might be one thing, sure. You ought not be ashamed of such things.

    But to basically equate *every action* of our modern, secular nation with ‘infallible good’ and then have the audacity to further promote ‘never apologizing’ in the face of obvious mistakes is quite another imho.

  12. Josh Williams
    February 27, 2010 at 12:59 am #

    I’d almost consider commenting on such a transparent jingoist as Romney to be a waste of breath. I wish I knew a good explanation as to why jingoism is so popular in America. History classes in public schools, maybe?

    Another one you could add to your list is the Philippine-American annexation war of 1899, which in some respects was even more brutal than the Japanese occupation of the country four decades later.

  13. Josh Williams
    February 27, 2010 at 1:26 am #

    It cannot, then, be legitimately argued that the subsequent massacre of nearly 200,000 Japanese was done in defense…..

    Very interesting to me, Connor. I’d heard something like this a long time ago but since forgot.

    Here’s what one author says about it.

    “A lack of credible information in the highest American circles and a reticence on the part of the Japanese to surrender on the Allies’ terms contributed to the long delay in surrender. A communication gap existed between the governments of the United States, Japan and the Soviet Union. The result was a long, convoluted process where the three governments did not save lives, but lost hundreds of thousands needlessly.”
    http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/33694/why_did_japan_delay_surrender_to_the.html?cat=37

    In other words, the author attributes the decision by Truman and FDR to be mostly due to the “fog of war.” Of course history is never simple, and I think there’s also truth in your claim that Hiroshima and Nagasaki where motivated out of a sense of revenge….as if the firebombing campaigns weren’t. Nukes are political weapons, not really practical ones.

  14. Chris
    February 27, 2010 at 2:51 am #

    FDR refused and pressed on, dropping the bombs unnecessarily.

    I think you meant Truman :)

    They were not used defensively, as the Japanese forces attacked and retreated. It cannot, then, be legitimately argued that the subsequent massacre of nearly 200,000 Japanese was done in defense;

    Nobody would argue that the bombings were done in defense.

    indeed, the act was primarily a retaliatory strike to cripple the country that had attacked us.

    The bombings were certainly done because the USA felt it needed to demonstrate the complete and absolute subjection of the Japanese. Everything that was done afterwards emphasized the superiority of America. It did, as you said, cripple and demoralize Japan. However, to say that it was retaliatory – that the bombings of Pearl Harbor were the primary motivation for wanting to cripple Japan – is an opinion. That’s one side of a heavily-debated discussion.

  15. Jim Davis
    February 27, 2010 at 3:20 am #

    Killing innocent lives should never NEVER be done for any reason. The whole “ends justify the means” philosophy is immoral and false.

    Christianity teaches, “Do good that good may come.” Unfortunately many people professing Christianity have accepted the philosophy of man (not God) that killing innocent people is OK in the name of collateral damage. Repent!!!!!!!!!

    Whether it’s a small group of religious extremists blowing up buildings with innocent people in them or governments blowing up entire villages- Both groups have committed acts of terror.

  16. Jim Davis
    February 27, 2010 at 3:33 am #

    Addressing Mitt Romney’s “No Apologies” campaign- Mitt Romney is a party hack. Every time he’s asked if he’s going to run for president he responds, “I’m just trying to help fellow republicans get elected.” He has repeatedly proved that he cares more about saving the parties image then he does about true Constitutional principles.

    The whole “no apologies” rant that these hacks are going off on was probably coined by some Fox News Neo-Con. It doesn’t make sense to me that so many of these guys are choosing this minuscule thing to pick on Obama about. Surely there are much bigger and more important things to criticize him about than this… But no, arrogantly protecting the previous administration is SOOOO much more important to the party spirited then defending liberty.

  17. Jeffrey T
    February 27, 2010 at 4:23 am #

    In all honesty, I expected a little bit more of a vitriolic reaction to this post. Well done, Connor! You’ve either convinced your readers well, or have driven away the dissenters! :)

  18. Carl Youngblood
    February 27, 2010 at 5:39 am #

    I mostly endorse your comments Connor. I think this is a very honest portrayal for the most part and I agree with it, although I think that the situation with the a-bomb during WWII was different, based on my reading of McCullough’s Truman, an excellent book, by the way.

  19. JoeSwiss
    February 28, 2010 at 12:35 pm #

    Nuts. No thanks. It would never end, because perspectives never end. So I’ll pass on this one, but I like most everything else around this blog.

  20. Clumpy
    February 28, 2010 at 4:27 pm #

    I think that the root of this issue can be found in a comparison. Parents who want to improve their children, to steer them in the right direction must acknowledge their mistakes and disappointment, while celebrating their victories and good character when appropriate. An overriding love governs this parenting.

    Parents who do not love their children, or have a shallow understanding of what it means to be a good parent, will blanketly accept or excuse the actions of their children, however wrong. This children invariably grow up with a sense of their own infallibility – weak. Parent or patriot, the principles are the same. Those who are not patriots, or not driven by any semblance of principle but their own ego will continue to trumpet an uncompromising America while rejecting every principle it ought to hold dear.

  21. Steven Diamond
    March 1, 2010 at 10:06 pm #

    If what you say is true that we were wrong to drop the bomb on Japan. I would like to know what you would have done in the circumstances you faced as commander in chief. Truman was faced with a society were every man, woman, and child was made part of the military force to repel our invasion. They were ruled by a king or emperor. They had no choice but to fight. The estimated civilian deaths by the hands of the Japanese Imperil Army and Navy were 7 million to 16 million in China, 1million in the Philippines, 3-4 million in the Dutch East Indies, 250,000 in Burma and many more.
    Our men were civilians over 200,000 were killed fighting the Japanese. We did not start the war but we did finish it. We ask for unconditional surrender over forty times all of them were rejected. No matter how many died the Japanese war department was willing to sacrifice every man women and child before they would surrender, so the question is who was a civilian if the government had drafted them all. They stated and acted as such sending the kamikaze pilots to their deaths. It was fanaticism at it worst. At any time they could have given up and the war would have been over.
    The bomb has saved more lives in the last century then anything else in modern history. It has made men think twice of pulling the war card. Since the bomb was dropped less than 1 million people have died in any war since. Though this is terrible the Japanese by their own counts they slaughtered as many as 30 million Filipinos, Malays, Vietnamese, Cambodians, Indonesians and Burmese, at least 23 million of them ethnic Chinese.”
    So I come to the last part. Truman was faced with the possible loss of 1,000,000 or more American casualties in the invasion force of Japan. Which of the parents of those million Americans would you say that their son’s death was worth it so that 200,000 Japanese civilians would have lived? You can not have both for you did not have the choice. Remember that Japan did not attack us just once at Pearl Harbor. Right after the Pearl Harbor strike the Japanese bomb the Oregon Forests hoping to start forest fires to destroy our resources. They attacked Alaska were a major battle was fought 100s died in taking back Alaskan territory.
    If I had been President I would have done the same thing. The call was “Give the Hell Harry” Connor have you ever had to fight for your freedom? I mean that if you did not fight you would lost your freedom? These wars you speak of have you only believed what you want to believe? Have you looked at all of the evidence?
    The Americans stopped Germany from finishing their atomic bomb by bombing the heavy water site in Germany. They were 6 months from completing their own bomb. Do you think that they would have done to America what we did to them after the war? We rebuilt their countries and now we are allies with democratic republics. Would that have happened if the Axis got the bomb first? Look at the Axis plans on the internet. You will find how they planned total world domination. Japan would take in Asia, Hitler in Europe, Central and South America, Mussolini in the old Roman Empire boundaries.
    They would surround America after every place else had been conquered and then they would come for us. Here are the links to South America, and the plans for the Axis in Europe.
    http://www.usd230.k12.ks.us/pictt/publications/maps/1941/1.html
    http://www.usd230.k12.ks.us/pictt/publications/maps/1942/2.html

  22. Steven Diamond
    March 1, 2010 at 10:59 pm #

    Ho Chi Minh, what you stated comes right out of the Communist propaganda of the day. I do not subscribe to Frances colonialism. Ho Chi Min was supported by the Communist Chinese as a way for China to inflict direct influence. The Vietnamese tried to protect themselves from Ho Chi and his armies. When Saigon fell hundreds of thousands were slaughtered. I have many friends who are Vietnamese refugees in California. Ask them about how freedom loving Ho Chi was. My father volunteered to go a help fight with the South Vietnamese, but he said he would never send one of his sons to this war because our country had no intention of winning it. This war was for the right for people to live under a government of their choosing. You say it was a puppet government of our making. Where are you sources? I can show you hundreds of people who live here today who will tell you that they were a free people who lost their home land to communism. So we are damned if we help, and we are damned if we don’t. So this is why we say we might as well do what we think is right. It is so easy to judge our actions when you do not have to deal with the criminals of the world and try to keep them at bay while working for a better world. Our country is the only country of it’s kind that when we conquered an area we came in and rebuilt our foes land, making them our allies instead of our slaves. Russia did not do it in Afghanistan. After 10 years of total destruction they left 300,000 land mines as a parting gift. The Chinese did not do so in Tibet. They have systematically killed of 1000s of innocent Tibetans. When we went into Iraq we liberated 25 million people from tyranny. Today Iraq has an exploding economy and is a peaceful nation, they still have terrorists, but they are progressing to a freer nation.

  23. Doug Bayless
    March 2, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

    Steven,

    Your well-written thoughts and jarring historical numerical estimates are a good summary of the kind of thinking I used to accept as justification for a “Pax Americana” kind of Imperial power. If the U.S. can really bravely, selflessly, and benevolently bestow that kind of order, peace, and liberty in the world then it basically behooves us to step up.

    I have learned, however, that the full story is much more messy, complex, and compromised than that.

    One of my favorite college professors – Hugh Nibley – helped host a mostly ignored ‘sit-in for peace’ on BYU campus during the early days of Gulf War I. He recounted how, as a young intelligence officer in WWII he witnessed first hand numerous occasions where our military forces would make mistakes (well intentioned) that would result in bombings of allied civilians, for instance, and the intelligence units were called in to cover it up, run damage control, spin out untruthful propaganda, etc. The result was that he became wary of the propensity — and even tendency — of many within our own government to lie continually assuming that the ends always justified the means. With Gulf War I, he cautioned that the battle may well have been justified but that the tendency of those on campus to simply believe every word of propaganda that issued forth from “government offices” was certainly not justified or wise. He further cautioned that in all his reading of the scriptures that he could count on one hand the number of military engagements actually commanded or backed by the Lord.

    Much more common, Nibley noted, was that war as the result of sin, deception, and false pride. War is hell, he summarized, and *both* sides lie, cheat, and steal once it is “declared”.

    My own readings on America’s use of atomic bombs on Japanese civilians is bit more nuanced than your summary. I certainly lack the resources to know the true scenarios, motivations, and potential results of each of those incidents.

    I do find it interesting that J. Reuben Clark, at the time a member of the First Presidency of the LDS Church, said in October Conference 1946:

    “Then as the crowning savagery of war, we as Americans wiped out hundreds of thousands of civilian population with the atom bomb in Japan, few if any of the ordinary civilians being any more responsible for the war than were we and perhaps no more aiding Japan in the war than we were aiding America. Military men are now saying that the atom bomb was a mistake. It was more than that: it was a world tragedy.…And the worst of the atomic bomb tragedy is not that not only did the people of the United States not rise up in protest against this savagery, not only did it not shock us to read of this wholesale destruction of men, women and children, and cripples, but that it actually drew from the nation at large approval of this fiendish butchery.”

    Clark’s is not an opinion I dismiss lightly. Before his time of Church service, he spent years in the U.S. State Department as a thoughtful and influential voice. He relates in his memoirs how his opinions on America’s powers and responsibilities changed considerably once he became better educated in how Washington really works and how our military is often [mis-]used.

    Due to our willful ignorance, false “patriotic” compliance, and increasing overtrust in flawed secular leaders, America has often made mistakes in wielding her awesome power. We certainly don’t own the market in bad decisions, bad examples, and tragic mistakes but that should in no way excuse us from striving for better decisions, better examples, and correction.

    Indeed, a truly STRONG America comes from holistic and genuine moral fiber. The kind that results from honesty, introspection, constant vigilance and repentance. Those are the principles that our Nation was founded upon. To simply plod forward and declare our wishful infallibility would be to foster a kind of “whited sepulchre” image “which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men’s bones and of all uncleanness” (Matt. 23:27)

  24. Doug Bayless
    March 2, 2010 at 12:57 pm #

    I can’t mention Clark here without another of his comments:

    “For America has a destiny – a destiny to conquer the world – not by force of arms, not by purchase and favor, for these conquests wash away, but by high purpose, by unselfish effort, by uplifting achievement, by a course of Christian living; a conquest that shall leave every nation free to move out to its own destiny; a conquest that shall bring, through the workings of our own example, the blessings of freedom and liberty to every people, without restraint or imposition or compulsion from us; a conquest that shall weld the whole earth together in one great brotherhood in a reign of mutual patience, forbearance, and charity, in a reign of peace to which we shall lead all others by the persuasion of our own righteous example.”

  25. Jim Davis
    March 2, 2010 at 6:42 pm #

    While we’re quoting J. Reuben Clark I think this quote also applies:

    “In our course under the new gospel of interference with everything we do not like, we have gone forward and are going forward, as if we possessed all the good of human government, of human economic concept, of human comfort, and of human welfare, all of which we are to impose on the balance of the world,— a concept born of the grossest national egotism… Yet, to repeat, we have entered into new fields to impose our will and concepts on others. This means we must use force, and force means war, not peace. What has our apostasy from peace cost us?” (J. Reuben Clark, Let Us Have Peace, Church News, November 22, 1947.)

  26. Connor
    March 2, 2010 at 10:42 pm #

    At 7 minutes into this video, you’ll hear the quote from Jason Chaffetz:

    We should not be apologizing for the United States of America, never, ever.

  27. James U
    March 3, 2010 at 8:27 am #

    I’m pretty disappointed in Mike Lee and Jason Chaffetz. Two who I really admire spouting this egotistical, hypocritical garbage about never apologizing. Can we conceive of a more prideful statement? I love what you guys are doing, and I’ll probably vote for you, but I wish you’d be honest about our blunders. Honesty is the only real strength.

  28. Steven Diamond
    March 3, 2010 at 9:30 am #

    I know that the premise of this article is to point out that America has made mistakes along the way. We have not always made the correct decisions. Apologies are necessary for healing on both sides. Innocent people die and are hurt by foolish policies. We can not avoid all mistakes. That said I do not believe that even those who evaluate the past can say that when faced with the challenges of the day that you would have acted any different and would have made the same mistakes given the same circumstances. For example I do not feel I am responsible for the actions of Slave owners in the South more than 100 years ago. My Great grand father fought to end slavery and gave his blood on the battle field fighting his own brothers. Does the Nation need to apologize for slavery. To those who were slaves yes, to their descendants? No! For the Japanese American interned in War Camp we apologized. Property taken should be given back. These concepts I agree with.
    When I differ is when we seek to help a people and then we are deemed the bad guys and must apologize. My dad was on his mission in Guatemala when the country suffered a huge famine. The US government sent 5 large ship loads of grain to the stricken area. The ship builders union paid for the loading, shipping and distribution of the grain. All of it paid for by the US. Before the famine the people of Guatemala paid 5 pesos a kilo for their flour. When the US grain arrived it was 25 pesos a kilo. The people of Guatemala were outraged. Say in our direst circumstances you charge us 5 times the current prices. Their own government was charging these prices but the US got the bad rap. This is what I understand as “No apologies.” We will not apologize for things that are placed on us erroneously or by intent.

  29. Doug Bayless
    March 3, 2010 at 9:54 am #

    Steven,

    Hey, I’d vote for you. :) If only the majority of the pundits out there pushing this phrase meant it in the way that you, Quincy, and many other good people choose to charitably interpret it!

    The problem, as I’m sure you recognize, is that there is a *huge* difference between not apologizing for something you didn’t do (ie price-gouge famine victims) and not apologizing for something you either didn’t want to admit was wrong or perhaps really didn’t know was wrong.

    In my book, if you’ve done something wrong you ought to own up to it, stop doing it, and try to make things better. If you didn’t do anything wrong then of course you don’t need to own up to it or stop doing it, and nothing is in your way with regards to trying to make the world a better place anyways.

    But what this whole “no apologies” campaign does is hijack the relevant discussion of what is going wrong — in current practice this is almost exclusive to the question of what is going wrong with foreign policies and the use of our armed forces — and replace it with a highly emotional, but completely dishonest, straw man argument about things the U.S. could be blamed for but, in fact, didn’t do.

    No good person believes the U.S. should be out there apologizing for things we didn’t do! But the truth is that many “leading lights” in America today don’t want to admit or correct mistakes we are currently making and so they use these highly charged emotional red herrings to dishonestly push the whole question in a different direction.

  30. Clumpy
    March 3, 2010 at 10:16 pm #

    James U, I really feel like Jason Chaffetz is little more than a modern trendy conservative, voting against spending increases and then trying to fight to have stimulus money brought to his district, then reversing his position when the hypocrisy is discovered. I really doubt that he’d take anything other than the ignorant party line on something like nationalism.

  31. Connor
    March 3, 2010 at 10:27 pm #

    I’m pretty disappointed in Mike Lee and Jason Chaffetz.

    I can’t speak for Jason, but I’ve talked with Mike personally about this topic, and he’s in general agreement with what I’ve mentioned here. His main contention is against blanket apologies that Obama has been making for generic things. He recognizes and agrees that there are actions for which America would need to apologize and change going forward.

  32. Brandon
    March 8, 2010 at 7:50 pm #

    Hey Connor, just wanted to congratulate you on getting this article posted on LRC. Great job!

  33. Quincy
    March 8, 2010 at 9:03 pm #

    Connor,

    I understand that you are condemning the attitude of politicians who refuse to apologize, but your comments raise an important follow-on question. Who do you think has the appropriate authority to offer a legitimate apology? Would Mitt Romney, a former state official? Would Jason Chaffetz, a first-term congressman? Would Mike Lee, a hopeful candidate? How about Barack Obama, a first term president who has largely continued the policies of his predecessor with respect to foreign military meddling?

    Pragmatically speaking, as with most of the actions of political figures, it is likely that any apology would be offered primarily for the purpose of casting aspersions on the politician’s predecessors and bolstering his/her own potential for (re)election.

    As a matter of function, is it ever appropriate for a legislator to offer an apology on behalf of the nation, or is that something only the executive should do?

  34. Doug Bayless
    March 9, 2010 at 1:38 am #

    Quincy,

    I certainly can’t speak for Connor so I’m interested in his answer, but my take is that the question itself seems loaded.

    I haven’t really paid attention to the whole “bowing and apologizing and unsightly deference” or whatever it was Obama was accused of early in his Presidency when he traveled. I thought the name-calling and dramatized horror betrayed more about those casting the aspersions than the President himself.

    Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t vote for Obama and have certainly decided not to do so next election. But I have more concern with his fiscal policy, his [as you astutely noted] unchanged foreign policy, his quick reversal of promises, etc. than whether or not he plays the haughty games of ‘appropriately pretended superiority’ with the same invented rules that some of the temporarily out-of-power Republican blue-bloods claim he should.

    When I see an unimportant American tourist “apologizing” to a Syrian that the rough-shod foreign policy of the U.S. [placing that entire nation on a small ‘Axis of Evil’] and the racist large media commentaries [painting that entire nation — with its sizable religious diversity — with a broad-brush as entirely Muslim, often including seething masses who are ‘radicalized’ and anxious for American deaths] do not really represent the feelings of all Americans [mercifully leaving out the probable truth that it might represent the understanding of a sizable and uniformed majority] I don’t get upset at the idea that ‘they have no right to make such a statement’. They have the right, I believe, as citizens.

    Likewise, if Obama, really believes that current or recent — or even distant past — American policy was flawed then I believe he has both the right [and sometimes obligation] to declare it. You don’t have to believe him; neither do I; and neither does anyone else in the world. When he states that America has recently been ‘too proud, brash, thoughtless’ or whatever he is accused of stating, I’ve got to admit that I *do* believe it, I do agree, and I do believe that it lifts our standing in the world when they see we are willing to elect a leader that is willing to freely state the divergence of opinions that exist in our nation. And in this case, I believe he is right and that it makes us more safe for as many people as possible in the world to hear him say it.

    I believe — with the other [thoughtful? historically informed?] crazies I suppose — that many in the world *do* hate us, but generally not for our freedoms as the recent war propagandists state but much more often for our unrelenting pride, blindness, and dangerous foreign interventions that leave many people — often innocent — dead in their wake.

    At heart, Romney’s argument is a cheap appeal to shallow and thoughtless emotion with regard to whether or not we’ve done anything at all inappropriate in the use of our military in the Mid-eastern engagements current and recent. “Leaders” like Romney seem deathly allergic to analysis and reason that do not originate within their own spheres of influence. They push for an elitist hierarchical structure where all the non-elites are expected to simply fall in line and ‘do their unquestioning duty’. Indeed, Romney closes the forward to his book — the one that started all this discussion with this telling comment:

    “In our past, Americans have risen to the occasion by confronting the challenge honestly and by laying their sacrifice on the altar of freedom – we must do so again.”

    This is a partial quote, if I’m not mistaken, from Abraham Lincoln trying to comfort a widow who had lost all four sons to the Civil War – “laying their sacrifice on the altar of freedom”. Personally, I don’t worship freedom — I try to worship God who grants me freedom. I’m somewhat unimpressed by those who casually invite others to throw themselves on the sword of freedom as if it is the only choice.

    That is the problem with Romney’s whole book’s premise. To use a quick Covey heuristic, it is ‘Win-Lose’ at core. He argues that if the U.S. does not appear to be #1, some other dangerous group will. He argues that if we don’t conquer the conquerable regions, some other dangerous group will. He might possibly be correct, but I don’t see it as unavoidable or even as a very morally consistent worldview. I believe there is greater hope for all worldwide. I believe we can set a better example without sacrificing principle for supposed expediencies. I prefer to look for Coveyesque Win-Win’s instead of always trying to keep the opposition down.

    Going back to foreign policy for instance, I believe the ‘No Apologies’ forward seems to hint that if we don’t keep feeding the military machine more recruits for our ‘long war’ that others will feed their radicals to their ‘long war’ faster than us and eventually overtake us. My personal opinion is that this kind of fearmongering and use of perpetual war directly contradicts the ideals I admire in ‘what it means to be American’. It is also a false dichotomy. There are other choices!

    [Let me apologize ahead of time (lol) for having posted this wall-of-text . . . it is kinda late for me. If you feel that ‘we are all dumber for having skimmed and endured it’ then let me doubly apologize – it certainly was not my intention!]

    Finally, let me simply observe that the kind of leaders that Romney has sometimes stated that he wants to emulate (and I believe him!) are often the kind that sagely counsel that “he that is greatest” should be humble, possibly low, and serving. The Saviour certainly had no problem with this kind of role or appearance and I’m not certain why we — as a Nation — should either.

  35. Connor
    March 9, 2010 at 9:21 pm #

    Quincy,

    Who do you think has the appropriate authority to offer a legitimate apology?

    Those who bear responsibility for future action.

    I think it’s important to distinguish between at least two types of apologies.

    First, there are the type that in effect are merely expressions of sympathy. An example of this may be somebody telling an unemployed individual “I’m so sorry to hear about your job loss.” These can be made by anybody, anywhere, at any time, but are not really apologies as they pertain to this article.

    Second, there are there apologies made by somebody with some connection to the action committed. The easy example is somebody apologizing for something they did, such as cheating on a test, and then no longer committing that action. Another example is the apology of somebody who has some influence on future action, though who was not culpable of the initial action. This may be a mother apologizing to a store owner for her son who stole a candy bar. The mother did not do it, but bears some responsibility, especially since she can influence the son’s future action and ensure it no longer happens.

    So to answer your question, anybody in a position to help shape future actions—especially those most closely related to the action for which an apology has been extended—can, in my mind, offer a relevant apology.

  36. Jon
    March 12, 2010 at 9:46 am #

    Connor,

    Perhaps you’d be happier living in another country. While I don’t pretend that I myself, or my country is perfect, I strive to improve myself daily, and I can unequivocally state that there is no other country in the history of the world that has done as much for world peace and prosperity than the United States in it’s relatively short history.

    The criticism at the beginning of your article could be applied to yourself (which is typical for the criticism of the ‘crazy lefty’)

    True to form, Connor did not actually say anything to contribute constructively to the conversation. He first took a personal jab (at someone who he’s jealous of because of his wild success and intensely professional demeanor). He then goes on to blabber about a handful of “mistakes” that America may have made without offering any sort of alternative course of action. All the while ignoring any facts or view points that disagree and writing a libel against great leaders who were forced to make very difficult decisions in very difficult times. How this is in any way helpful to our society is anyone’s best guess.

    Again, be productive, offer solutions, don’t just complain. Or find a country you prefer to the United States and move there.

  37. Doug Bayless
    March 12, 2010 at 11:50 am #

    Jon,

    Maybe I don’t understand your criticism of Connor’s article. Connor directly tackles Romney’s half-truth assertion and constructively demonstrates his concern about it (advocating the idea that one should *never* apologize is not simply hypocritical and unwise but ultimately self-destructive). He actively suggests a better solution: don’t be afraid to honestly analyze and correct inadvertent wrongs. You know, the whole ‘those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it’ thing.

    I submit that it is extremely constructive to remember our potential mistakes as a nation so that we can learn from them and avoid repeating them. Thus, Connor’s article here is much more constructive than the ‘head in the sand’ “all is well if America did it, don’t ask questions, don’t try to learn” knee-jerk responses of some of these media pundits.

    It is worth remembering that Romney came home from his mission to France very upset with his own father for ‘apologizing’ for what he had come to recognize as blind cheerleading for the war in Vietnam. After serious research (including a trip to Vietnam), Romney’s father had come to understand that much of what he had been told was baseless and misleading and he was deeply troubled by that. An early front-runner for the 1968 Republican Presidential nomination, George Romney’s frank admission in a local radio interview that he [and many other war supporters] had been basically ‘brainwashed’ by these lies put a swift and dramatic end to his Presidential bid.

    Romney speaks heavily of his father during national TV interview

    By GLEN JOHNSON , Associated Press writer

    BOSTON — As he contemplates his own run for the presidency, Gov. Mitt Romney agrees his father’s 1968 campaign may have been doomed when he said he had been subjected to a “brainwashing” by Vietnam War supporters.

    Time later proved George Romney right.

    “His point was that (Defense Secretary Robert) McNamara and (President Lyndon) Johnson had been lying to the American people, and … in the past he had swallowed hook, line and sinker,
    what he had been told by military generals,” the Massachusetts governor said in an interview with C-SPAN that will air Sunday night.

    “I remember that when McNamara came out with his book about ‘The Fog of War,’ and admitted that he had lied to the American people, my dad took a certain degree of satisfaction in the fact that the people now knew that what he said was true,” Romney added. “And he used to say that in politics being right too early is not a good thing. But he was right, and it was too early.”

    It is seems to me that the political animal in Romney has forced him to regress back to his initial reaction to George’s honorable public admission. Romney knows the political calculus and believes that honesty and apologies carry too great a price.

    I think that’s an unwise calculation long-term regardless of it’s short-term value. I wish Romney and leaders like him would stand for what is right. A good leader knows how to communicate principles and truth to the people regardless of political winds.

    I’m not sure who you are or what your background with LDS scripture might be, but on the chance that you are familiar with the Book of Mormon I just wanted to mention that the views you suggest remind me somewhat of the criticisms that the Zarahemlans leveled at Samuel — they were too proud and too successful to believe there was any value in self-analysis or “criticism”of anything else they might be doing. Somebody pointed out to me once that one of the first things the Savior did when visiting that people was ask why Samuel’s warnings weren’t recorded in their sacred history and then to command them to right their proud and racist wrong in not recording them. Anyways, an awful lot of scripture — and especially the Book of Mormon — focuses on advocating thoughtfulness, humility, and avoiding the [dismissive and dangerous] attitude that “all is well”.

  38. Carl Youngblood
    March 12, 2010 at 11:51 am #

    Jon, your comparison would imply that nobody should ever apologize for anything. Connor was not saying America is not a great country. He’s just saying that it should be honest and courageous enough to apologize when the situation warrants it.

  39. Jon
    March 12, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

    Carl,
    I don’t appreciate you putting words in my mouth. I never advocated ‘that nobody should ever apologize for anything.’ I only suggested that we spend our time doing something constructive instead of finding fault and pointing fingers which isn’t ever particularly helpful.

    Doug,
    I do appreciate your comments. They are insightful. However, I think saying that Conner has offered a solution is giving him the benefit of the doubt (something he was not willing to extend to Romney) and reading between the lines at best. It is you that made the “those who do not understand history are doomed to repeat it” connection, and I agree with you. Let’s avoid making those same mistakes again. In fact, lets admit that we were wrong in the examples cited in the article.

    I think the problem is that America takes a lot of criticism for a lot of things (some justified- much not), but we rarely receive the praise that we deserve for the good that we do (and we do a lot of good things). But let us not apologize for the values that America stands for, which I think is the point that Governor Romney is trying to make.

    With regard to the final religious point about the Zarahemlans and Samuel the Lamanite, I do not wish to say that “all is well.” Anyone who would look at our nation today and make that statement is a ‘lunatic on the level of the man who says he’s a poached egg’ to borrow a phrase from C.S. Lewis. My criticism of Connor was to stop finding fault and start finding a solution, and without reading between the lines, he offers none. As this conversation has waxed religious, I’ll offer another insight from someone I’m sure you are familiar with, Elder Talmage. Finding fault is so easy that religious contemporaries of Jesus Christ were able to find it abounding in the only perfect being to ever exist. If the Pharisees and Sadducees could find fault in Christ, who wouldn’t be able to find fault in any other man, Romney not excepted. (And to quiet any future ridiculous comments before they are written, I am in no way comparing Romney to Christ).

    The point I wish to drive home is that we engage ourselves in fruitful activities. This article obviously took time to think out and research. Yet what is to come of it? No foreign policy can ever be reduced to a single motive. These are incredibly complicated issues. It is the lazy and unproductive person who chooses to focus on being critical for one reason while not taking into account the many others that come into play. In a world as diverse and complicated in which we live, it’s too easy to blame the United States for every atrocity out there. When we get involved it becomes our fault. If we do not get involved, criticism is lobbed at us for not taking action. In this type of environment, it’s not hard to understand why politicians can tire of apologizing, and perhaps even take a ‘no apologies’ stance. I’m not taking that issue, I’m pointing out one reason why they might.

    We are ridiculously fortunate to live where we do in the time we live. We are still participating in a great experimental republic and democracy. We all have an obligation to do our part to improve it. Let our effort then, be focused on improvement, not simply degrading others who are actively engaged in trying to improve the nation.

  40. Kelly W.
    March 12, 2010 at 9:13 pm #

    Congratulations Connor, I found your article today posted on InformationClearingHouse.info ! I guess it was on Lew Rockwell also.

  41. tasmanian angel
    March 12, 2010 at 10:14 pm #

    You won’t hear them apologize because that would mean they are changing their ways and will stop the exploitation of other nations and people.

    You won’t hear them apologize, because the minute they do this opens the doors for the hundreds of law suits for REPARATIONS, which the American people will one day have to pay. You cannot flatten a nation, such as Iraq, take their resources, destroy their infrastructure, trash their culture, torture their people, murder their children AND then think you will get away with it. Already suits have been filed. It will be when America has further weakened economy that this will begin. COUNT ON IT!!

    Don’t think “it could never happen here”. It happened to Germany.

  42. Jeff Lindsay
    March 14, 2010 at 7:15 am #

    We expect police to apologize when something goes wrong and innocent people are killed or even guilty people are treated with brutality. Such mistakes happen and need swift action to be corrected, including apologies and more (e.g., prosecuting the guilty cops). So why shouldn’t the same standard apply to the World’s Policeman? Actually, we should not be the world’s policeman – one more thing to apologize for.

  43. oldmama
    March 25, 2010 at 4:50 pm #

    Thank you for pointing out that Japan’s leaders had already agreed to surrender before the bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    If I attempt to say anything about Mitt Romney it will be too harsh and won’t help anyone to understand a valid point I might be trying to make.

    Thank you for pointing out all these things.

    However, there is an implication when political discussions are ongoing that Americans are a united group, that a private, unempowered citizen, simply by going to town council meetings and getting involved in local politics and maybe even working to improve state politics–

    can ‘change’ anything ‘at the top’.

    The idea that *I* as an American citizen (whatever that means at this point) can, by talking about it, cause American political ‘leaders’ to “apologize” to any country, any ethnic group for wars, past or present–

    is preposterous.

    I appreciate the author of this blog for pointing out what has happened, what has REALLY happened, so that I can be more aware of the truth.

    I have researched as much of this on my own as possible, but at times it is good to find others who are doing the same thing.

    For truth.

    I am not so naive as to think that *I* can change anything.

    To use the word *we* and think that it matters–

    *We* “should” apologize.

    Who is going to do the apologizing, and why should *they* when *they* have managed to get what *they* want, allow millions of people to be killed in the process, and not be held accountable to it.

    When *you* think you are God (I could start at the top from the last several decades and even before) and can kill people without missing supper–

    *you* act like God, and *you* care very little for discussions like this, taking place on an internet blog.

    Are *they* afraid (someone mentioned Cheney; yes, he is definitely one of *them*) of *us*?

    Of course not. *They* would laugh at the thought.

    So, for *us* to say *we* should apologize–

    Sorry, I am ranting now.

    Thank you, Connor, for being intelligent and thoughtful and for being willing to criticize something that has gone so terribly awry.

    If there were not good Christians (including Mormons, I hope), Bhuddists, Hindus, Jews, and Muslims (and a few others thrown in for good measure) going on about their lives and trying to do good–in this country–

    *we* would already be a decimated wasteland–

    because *we* have surely earned that.

    And, yes, *I* am very ready to live in another country–

    with Jesus at the head.

  44. Liz
    March 26, 2010 at 12:04 am #

    Yep Connor, The President of the United States, I believe, does not have the right to apologize for the United States of America. He works for “we the people.” That would be like a groundskeeper apologizing to gentile visitors for the work that goes on in the temple. Now, the groundskeeper can apologize for mowing funky lines in the grass around the temple, but that’s about all he/she has responsibility for.

    I am stunned at what a prolific writer you are. Stunning.

  45. Liz
    March 26, 2010 at 12:22 am #

    Now, alternatively, I can apologize for my country. I can apologize for my president, which I frequently do. Because I am sovereign, at least under the Constitution. But the president is a servant who is obligated to represent my country in the best possible light. The best possible, truthful light, because that is what I the people would expect of him/her. Obama runs out shooting his mouth off about American bad this, America bad that, and it peeves me. I don’t want the hired help biting the hand that feeds it. Capiche?

  46. Carl Youngblood
    March 26, 2010 at 1:52 am #

    On the other hand, Liz, if Obama were saying something you agreed with then I’m sure your opinion would be different. The practical outcome of your assertion is that our presidents would not be able to say anything because they are completely subservient to their constituents. Any opportunity to assert a certain position could not be taken for fear of misrepresenting some constituents. In truth, we expect our leaders to represent the US and to take bold initiatives in so doing. We rarely if ever agree on what it is we want them to do, but we definitely want them to take positions on things and even to express their opinions on past mistakes or wrongdoing done by people besides themselves. The whole essence of any presidency is to speak on behalf of others.

  47. oldmama
    March 26, 2010 at 8:20 am #

    but these “leaders” are not listening to “us” anyway–

    *I* can only apologize for myself, not for anyone else.

    *I* have not dropped bombs. *I* have not used a weapon against anyone for any reason, including political.

    (Oh, wait a minute, I threw a pillow at my husband once)–

    Anyway, back to being reasonable and serious, though it may be therapeutic to talk about this, the bottom line is that *we* have very little control over what presidents do. They, *I* believe, are quite well-manipulated by shadowy figures themselves.

    This goes beyond partisanship.

    It’s much harder to express effectively than it is to emote.

    And I admit that weakness for myself.

    But who am I–

    an older person who just stumbled over this blog.

    I am ‘proud’ (as a mother of young adults, single and married) that a young person is working so hard to find the truth as this young man, Connor Boyack.

  48. Liz
    March 26, 2010 at 5:51 pm #

    I’m with you, Carl. If Obama said and then DID something I agreed with, I might begin to form a different opinion of him. Still waiting.

  49. vontrapp
    March 26, 2010 at 10:14 pm #

    No liz, you miss the point. You would sing a different tune if ANY president was saying things you agreed with. Then it’s all fine that the president speaks for us. But when you disagree, the president can’t speak for us. It can’t be both ways. Either the president has the prerogative or he doesn’t.

  50. Jeffrey T
    March 26, 2010 at 11:19 pm #

    Liz,

    If Obama spoke on the country’s behalf, but in a way that you agree with, you would be fine with it. So, you DO believe the president can speak on our behalf.

  51. Webbe
    May 3, 2010 at 2:59 pm #

    This has been a very good article, for when I find an American who can be objective about what is right, just and fair, I am always impressed. To me, this issue of apologizing is one of forgiveness. I think the basis on which America spreads its wings (so to speak) across the world is by proclaiming liberty, freedom and democracy for all. And that is good, but then to not apologize is counter to such a position. For example, if my name is Jack, and I did something wrong to Anne, can I then say to Anne, “well, I am very good to Jill and Joe, so I don’t think I need apologize to you for this one mistake.” How will relationship with Anne ever be peaceful, democratic and free again if Jack does not apologize?

    But then again, nations don’t have friends, only interests, and so doing anything that is counter to those national interests is seen as counterproductive. The president, I feel, is the best person to apologize for what America has done. And trust me it’s not America only, countless other nations have wronged other nations. I think Liz said he should not, but I disagree sharply. The president, whoever it might be, is the number one representative of America to the rest of the world. From since when did representing the people of America mean that you gloss over your country’s faults for the sake of keeping face with the national public? The way I see it, any president, including the current one, will forever be in a tough position, since taking a stance that is better for the entire world is in diametric opposition to the interests of his/her American people. But then again, wouldn’t most American’s say “but of course, serving us his number one agenda.” I think it is not until we all learn that it is looking out for the interests of others that we truly secure our own interests, that things can move towards true liberty and peace. This is a secret hidden in plain sight. If only the nations could see it.

  52. Connor
    October 1, 2010 at 1:59 pm #

    Hey, look! The government actually apologized for something

    U.S. government medical researchers intentionally infected hundreds of people in Guatemala, including institutionalized mental patients, with gonorrhea and syphilis without their knowledge or permission more than 60 years ago.

    Many of those infected were encouraged to pass the infection onto others as part of the study.

    About one third of those who were infected never got adequate treatment.

    On Friday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius offered extensive apologies for actions taken by the U.S. Public Health Service.

    “The sexually transmitted disease inoculation study conducted from 1946-1948 in Guatemala was clearly unethical,” according to the joint statement from Clinton and Sebelius. “Although these events occurred more than 64 years ago, we are outraged that such reprehensible research could have occurred under the guise of public health. We deeply regret that it happened, and we apologize to all the individuals who were affected by such abhorrent research practices.”

  53. CHRISTY
    November 29, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    I have found one politician who acknowledges prior faults of the US and continuously brings these things up in his foreign policy campaigns. If this is the kind of leadership US citizens want, the RON PAUL is your man. Please watch his video on youtube called the “what if” speech. There are a few different video versions, one of my favs is one put together by an Australian student. Another good one is called evanescence meets Ron Paul. (its an evanescence song with pics) Both very good and emotionally moving. RON PAUL TO SAVE OUR GREAT NATION AND CONSTITUTION!

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