Tuesday, May 12, 2009

World Apology Tour Summary

During the 2008 presidential race, then-President George W. Bush took heat for seeming to criticize Barack Obama as an appeaser during an address to Israel's parliament. 

It was considered poor form to take shots, direct or indirect, at a U.S. dignitary while overseas. 

But since taking office, Obama has made a habit of using overseas podiums to delicately jab at his predecessor by apologizing and expressing regret for American behavior in recent years. 

The following is a list, in reverse chronological order, of the Obama administration's overseas apologies and clarifications to date:

April 18: "We have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms. But I pledge to you that we seek an equal partnership. There is no senior partner and junior partner in our relations."
-- President Obama, at the Summit of the Americas in Port of Spain, Trinidad

April 16: "Too often, the United States has not pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors. We have been too easily distracted by other priorities and have failed to see that our own progress is tied directly to progress throughout the Americas. My administration is committed to renewing and sustaining a broader partnership between the United States and the hemisphere on behalf of our common prosperity and our common security."
-- President Obama, in an op-ed that appeared in U.S. and Latin American newspapers prior to the Summit of the Americas

April 6: "I know there have been difficulties these last few years. I know that the trust that binds us has been strained, and I know that strain is shared in many places where the Muslim faith is practiced. Let me say this as clearly as I can: the United States is not at war with Islam."
-- President Obama, in Ankara, Turkey

April 3: "In America, there's a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive. But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what's bad. On both sides of the Atlantic, these attitudes have become all too common. They are not wise. ... They threaten to widen the divide across the Atlantic and leave us both more isolated."
-- President Obama, in Strasbourg, France

April 2: "It is true, as my Italian friend has said, that the (economic) crisis began in the U.S. I take responsibility, even if I wasn't even president at the time."
-- President Obama, at the G20 in London, as reported by Germany's Der Spiegel

April 2: "I would like to think that with my election and the early decisions that we've made, that you're starting to see some restoration of America's standing in the world."
-- President Obama, at G20 summit in London

April 1: "If you look at the sources of this crisis, the United States certainly has some accounting to do with respect to a regulatory system that was inadequate."
-- President Obama, at a press conference ahead of the G20 in London

March 25: "I feel very strongly we have a co-responsibility (for drug-fueled violence in Mexico). ... Our insatiable demand for illegal drugs fuels the drug trade. Our inability to prevent weapons from being illegally smuggled across the border to arm these criminals causes the deaths of police officers, soldiers and civilians."
-- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, en route to Mexico City

Jan. 26: "All too often the United States starts by dictating ... and we don't always know all the factors that are involved. So let's listen. And I think if we do that, then there's a possibility at least of achieving some breakthroughs. ... My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy. We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect."
-- President Obama, in an interview with Al Arabiya

The Obama administration has also expressed plenty of regret stateside as it rolls back some of Bush's counter-terrorism policies. The president, for instance, acknowledged potential "mistakes" as he addressed CIA employees April 20 and discussed his ban of enhanced interrogation techniques. 

"Don't be discouraged that we have to acknowledge potentially we've made some mistakes. That's how we learn," Obama said. 


Southern Drawl May 12, 2009 at 3:53 PM  

Yes, let's forget that the free world might not exist as we know it due to our sacrifices over the years. Let's forget who often is first to rush to any disaster with aid and support...Let's forget and apologize...No thank you!

James' Muse May 12, 2009 at 4:26 PM  

I don't see any sort of apology that is inappropriate in those statements above. Just acknowlegement of things that we did have responsibility for. In fact, as far as apologies go, most of these are weak.

April 18: I graduated with my degree in Spanish, and I can tell you that the US has directly screwed over Latin American time and time again, just in the last century alone. Example? The Panama Canal. This isn't even an apology: its saying that Latin America needs us, and we need them.

April 16: Same thing as above.

April 6: This isn't an apology. We aren't at war with Islam: We are at war with terrorism. Terrorism and Islam are mutually exclusive.

April 3: This isn't an apology either. In fact, after he acknowledges that some in America don't appreciate Europe, Europe doesn't appreciate the US like they should, either.

April 2: Another true fact. He's taking responsibility for something that did not happen on his watch.

April 2nd: Another true statement, and not at all an apology. Many world travelers have seen anti-americanism lessen since Obama was elected.

April 1st: Economists would agree here. The repeal of the glass-steagall act under Clinton (and his Republican Congress) was a big part of the deregulation.

March 25th: Where are the drugs going? Oh yeah, into the US.

Jan 26th: After 9/11, we DID make mistakes and thought all Muslims were like the minority that attacked us, just like we did in WWII when we thought all Japanese were our enemies after Pearl Harbor.

As for your ending statement, even the FBI disagreed with the enhanced interrogation techniques, as does a majority of Americans (not to mention the world).

Acknowledging past mistakes and trying to mend fences with the world should not be viewed as weakness. Like I said, there are reports of decreased anti-americanism globally since Obama took the oath...it seems only the militant right sees it as weakness.

Miss T.C. Shore May 12, 2009 at 5:27 PM  

Spin it like you want. You can bet that if we are attacked by terrorists as a direct result of Obama getting lax on security, there won't be any apology to the Bush administration or to the American people about mistakes made by his administration.

James' Muse May 12, 2009 at 6:50 PM  

All I'm seeing is the Republican Spin Double Standard: 9/11 wasn't Bush's fault; it was Clinton's. But if it happens under Obama, its not Bush's fault for pissing off the middle east with his neo-conservative pre-emptive BS; its Obama's for returning us to civilized policies.


Miss T.C. Shore May 12, 2009 at 6:57 PM  

9/11 was the fault of the terrorists and al qaeda. Clearly Bush should have seen it coming, but only because of what happened under Clinton's watch, which he did nothing about. After 9/11 Bush kept us safe for 7 years.

Bush didn't piss off the Middle East. The first World Trade Center Bombinb, the USS Cole, Somalia, etc, all happened BEFORE Bush was in office.

If you think what Obama is doing is going to appease the islamic extremists terrorists, you are as deluded as they come. They will come after us again, with or without the World Apology Tour.

The difference is that this time, we are tying our own hands behind our backs in dealing with them.

James' Muse May 13, 2009 at 1:43 AM  

Again, these weren't real apologies, they were diplomatic relations. Its a ton better than the cowboy diplomacy that our neo-conservative previous president tried. And again, anyone who has been outside of the US (I have, many times, as well as lived outside the US) would tell you that anti-american sentiment has declined. There will always be those that hate us for being free.

As for Bush keeping us safe for 7 years, that isn't something that can be proven. It could have just been coincidence.

And how have we tied our own hands? By banning techniques that have been illegal since WWII? I don't see Obama banning ACTUAL safety measures, like the FBI counter-terrorism, homeland security, or the Air Marshall program that got beefed up post 9/11. Those are many things, still in place, that actually helped us.

If you think waterboarding and other torture helped us, you are as deluded as they come.

Besides the point that even if it did help it doesn't make it right. The whole "but it works!" excuse has been used to justify injustice since slavery, manifest destiny, Jim Crow, segregation, the Japanese camps, and Nixon used the same excuse during his investigation. It doesn't hold water.

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