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Of Course Obama Should Apologize

Disparaging President Obama's overseas trip as an "Apology Tour", some conservative critics are trying to make the argument that being a powerful champion of liberty and admitting mistakes are somehow mutually exclusive.

But particularly as Obama addresses the Muslim world tomorrow morning in Cairo, he has plenty to apologize for. The entire neoconservative "war on terror" that was supposed to strike fear in the hearts of our enemies instead backfired spectacularly, turning into what some saw as a failed and contemptible war on Islam -- complete with torture chambers -- at enormous cost to our nation's security and moral standing.

For Obama to undo even some of that damage, which is a tall order, of course he needs to acknowledge what went wrong.

Anthony Shadid, reporting for The Washington Post from Iraq, conveys the reality in the Muslim street.

When President Obama delivers his address to the Middle East on Thursday from Cairo, he will face the legacy of names like Haditha, Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib, places that have become more symbol than geography over nearly a decade of perhaps the most traumatic chapter in America's relationship with the Muslim world.

More than any other president in a generation, Obama enjoys a reservoir of goodwill in the region. His father was Muslim. His outreach in an interview with an Arabic satellite channel, a speech to Turkey's parliament and an address to Iranians on the Persian New Year have inclined many to listen. Just as important, he is not George W. Bush.

But Obama will still encounter a landscape in which two realities often seem to be at work, shaped by those symbols....

"At least he has to apologize," said ... Ghofraan Dhiaa [a clerk at women's clothing store in the Baghdad neighborhood of Karrada]. "He can either apologize himself or on the behalf of his predecessors. But there needs to be recognition."

Christopher Dickey writes for Newsweek:

The need for dignity and respect—a craving for recognition and vindication—is at the heart of the region's most intractable conflicts...

[A]ll sides need to quit looking at their moral standing as a zero-sum game in which any concession to others is an admission of moral failing on their own. And this is the kind of lesson Obama likes to teach....

In his memorable speech on race relations in the United States during the campaign last year, Obama told African-Americans that "moving beyond our old racial wounds" meant "embracing the burdens of our past without becoming victims of our past." His core message to all sides: "Your dreams do not have to come at the expense of my dreams."

That is likely to be the tone of Obama's address to the Islamic world (and Israel) as well. It's often said that two wrongs do not make a right. But in the Middle East today, admitting the wrongs on all sides may be the only way left to start to making things right.

Former secretary of state Madeleine K. Albright writes in a New York Times opinion column:

Since the president is unlikely to announce major policy changes, he must persuade Muslims abroad to view our existing policies in a new light. That is no small job. It requires separating the rationale for contemporary actions from the long history of clashes between Islam and the West, and it requires overcoming the resentment caused when Muslim noncombatants are killed as a byproduct of conflict.

The more direct the president is in acknowledging these problems, the more likely it is that Muslims will think objectively about his words.

Muslims desire respect and respect demands frankness.

And New York Times opinion columnist Thomas L. Friedman this morning describes his own interview with Obama, in which the president suggests his main goal will be truth-telling -- no matter how painful it is to all parties.

When it comes to dealing with the Middle East, the president noted, "there is a Kabuki dance going on constantly. That is what I would like to see broken down. I am going to be holding up a mirror and saying: 'Here is the situation, and the U.S. is prepared to work with all of you to deal with these problems. But we can't impose a solution. You are all going to have to make some tough decisions.' Leaders have to lead, and, hopefully, they will get supported by their people."...

A key part of his message, he said, will be: "Stop saying one thing behind closed doors and saying something else publicly."

Obama's explanation of that is fascinating. Friedman concludes:

When young Arabs and Muslims see an American president who looks like them, has a name like theirs, has Muslims in his family and comes into their world and speaks the truth, it will be empowering and disturbing at the same time.

Nevertheless, here is the drumbeat from the right. Mitt Romney tells Dan Gilgoff of U.S News:

[W]e certainly should not stand up and apologize for America. America has sacrificed too much to restore liberty to people in the world to ever be in a position of constant apology. I think the president was wrong in going on Arabic TV and saying that America has in the past dictated to other nations. I think he was wrong in fact and that it was the wrong thing to say....

I hope as [Obama] goes to Cairo he shows the resolve and strength of America on preserving and defending freedom and does not in any way suggest an apology. This is a time for strength and commitment to common principles, not a time for apologizing for America. We have done too much. Too many lives have been sacrificed on behalf of the freedom of other people in the world for America to engage in an apology tour.

Michael Goodwin writes in his New York Daily News opinion column about "something he definitely ought to leave at home: grating apologies for America's past....

None is needed. Genuine pride in representing America will do just fine.

Our nation has no peer in liberating people from the grip of tyranny, especially in the regions Obama will visit. That's a fact of history and the President of the United States ought to take every opportunity to say so....

He can say loudly and clearly that President Bush conceded it was a mistake to use the word "crusade" to describe the war on terror immediately after 9/11.

Obama can dispel other corroding myths, such as the one that after the attacks, thousands of Muslims were willy-nilly thrown into American jails. He can and must draw the distinction between the criminal abuses committed by some U.S. troops at Abu Ghraib, and the authorized, life-saving interrogation used on a few fanatical killers at Guantanamo.

But what do you do when those "corroding myths" are the truth? That what happened at Abu Ghraib had nothing to do with what happened at Guantanamo and the CIA black sites has become an article of faith for the far right. But the facts are clear that both were the direct result of decisions made at the White House. Peter Brookes writes in a Boston Herald op-ed:

Unfortunately, President Barack Obama is likely to use his visits to Saudi Arabia and his speech in Egypt tomorrow as stops on his Apology World Tour, repudiating Bush-era Middle East and War on Terror policies.

Instead of creating perceptions of weakness - which would only invite more provocations and attacks - he should rally Arab states to take a strong stand against the Iranian threat. It's one thing on which we can all agree.

And here's right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh:

We can't impose our values on the rest of the world, right? That's what President Obama said. Sure as hell sounds like the rest of the world can impose their values on us. They don't like Gitmo, we have to shut it down. They don't like what we've done, fine, Obama will run around and apologize. I'm telling you, folks, it is not the United States of America that serves as Barack Obama's role model. It's other socialist nations that have failed and the concept of socialism that is his role model. I'll tell you what, stupid little community organizer, organize this.

Obama has not hesitated in the past to acknowledge that the U.S. has some ground to make up, particularly with the Muslim world. He granted his first White House televised interview to Al Arabiya, after all, where he explained:

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. But if you look at the track record, as you say, America was not born as a colonial power, and that the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there's no reason why we can't restore that. And that I think is going to be an important task.

Nile Gardiner and Morgan Roach write for the Heritage Foundation that Obama "has already apologized for his country to nearly 3 billion people across Europe, the Muslim world, and the Americas." They're not so crazy about the idea: "The overall effect of this approach has been to weaken American power on the world stage rather than strengthen it," they write. But their list of Obama's "10 most significant apologies" is good background.

And Obama faces another negative legacy of neoconservatism, in addition to the need to apologize for it: The perversion of proud goals. Michael Tomasky writes in a Guardian opinion piece:

The most interesting question, to me, is how he'll describe his vision of what America can do to promote democracy and liberty. Yes, these were neocon goals. But it's not the goals that were wrong, just the ends (military force). During the Bush years, some American liberals came to reject even these goals just because Bush endorsed them. So one of Obama's tasks on Thursday is to reclaim these goals, yank them out of their neoconservative context and place them in a liberal-internationalist one.

That discourse will be directed toward Americans, and others living in countries where freedom is secure. But much of the speech has to be aimed at people – and leaders – in the developing world, where it is not. Obama's election inspired the world. Can he inspire now that he's president? Can he lay out principles and values that a complex and defiant and snappish world will hear, absorb and maybe even try to live by? Egypt is a ripe test case, and I wonder whether Obama will have the bad manners, but laudable courage, to direct any words about freedom to President Hosni Mubarak.

Meanwhile, in other news, William Maclean writes for Reuters:

A double blast from al Qaeda against Barack Obama shows the group is as worried as ever by the persuasive skills of the U.S. president, who makes a speech to Muslims on Thursday.

Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden, in an audio recording aired on Wednesday by Al Jazeera television, said Obama had planted the seeds of "revenge and hatred" towards the United States in the Muslim world and he warned Americans to prepare for the consequences.

A day earlier, the militant network's second-in-command Ayman al-Zawahri urged Egyptians not to be seduced by Obama's 'polished words' when he makes a major address in Cairo seeking to repair ties with the Muslim world.

Obama is already in Saudi Arabia, the first stop on a trip that continues to Europe after his Cairo visit. From his remarks before a meeting with Saudi King Abdullah:

This is my first visit to Saudi Arabia, but I've had several conversations with His Majesty. And I've been struck by his wisdom and his graciousness. Obviously the United States and Saudi Arabia have a long history of friendship, we have a strategic relationship. And as I take this trip and we'll be visiting Cairo tomorrow, I thought it was very important to come to the place where Islam began and to seek His Majesty's counsel and to discuss with him many of the issues that we confront here in the Middle East.

Jeff Zeleny writes in the New York Times:

In an interview with Laura Haim on Canal Plus, a French television station, Mr. Obama noted that the United States also could be considered as "one of the largest Muslim countries in the world."

The right wing of the blogosphere is predictably going bonkers. But as Greg Sargent blogs, that's not what Obama actually said. What he actually said was: that "one of the points I want to make is, is that if you actually took the number of Muslims Americans, we'd be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world."

By Dan Froomkin  |  June 3, 2009; 12:55 PM ET
Categories:  Middle East  
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It is not possible for the neocons and their idiot disciples to apologize. In their view, nothing they did was wrong-- so why apologize for it?

Mitt Romney, Governor Haircut from Massachusetts, may wish to reconsider his remarks. They don't come off as especially presidential-- in fact, they smack of Bushian ignorance and pomposity.

Rush claims the rest of the world is imposing their values on us. Funny, I thought the problem with Abu Ghraib and Gitmo was that they violated international laws-- laws that the United States generally pushed on other nations after WW2. But when has Rush ever let facts get in the way of a hate-filled rant? It's not like Rush graduated from college or anything.

Peter Brookes is nearly as imbecilic by claiming that Obama ought to rally the Arab states against Iran. How the hell is THAT supposed to work? The Arab states are sick of American arrogance; as Michael Tomasky says, our noble goals were coopted and corrupted. Why would the Arab states listen to anything we say now, until we start showing them respect and own up to our nation's mistakes?

(Oh yeah, I forgot: we're the United States, we are INCAPABLE of making mistakes.)

President Obama *has* to apologize for the failures and gross incompetence of the previous administration. I am sure he would prefer not to be forced into this-- nobody likes to be on the hook for the last guy's screwups-- but fate has tied his hands. More of the same from the US will only deepen the anger, hatred and violence directed toward us.

So give up prattling about how demeaning and deplorable the "apology tour" is, neocons. If your guy hadn't flamed out so spectacularly, in so many ways, it wouldn't be necessary.

Posted by: dbitt | June 3, 2009 1:49 PM | Report abuse

Until AIPAC's influence wanes, Obama's ability to modulate US policy more towards our national interest will surely be extremely limited. It could be a very long wait.

Posted by: lguy1 | June 3, 2009 2:10 PM | Report abuse

dbitt: "It is not possible for the neocons and their idiot disciples to apologize. In their view, nothing they did was wrong-- so why apologize for it?"

Offering a genuine apology requires allowing for nuance and uncertainty in ones worldview, and genuine honesty about one's goals and actions. These are not features of the right-wing methodology, and they never can be.

Posted by: mobedda | June 3, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

I can't say I agree or really understand why he (or anyone else) would need to apologize to the "Muslim" world. We have repeatedly said we are not at war with Islam. I don't think we should apologize for fighting terrorism *(but perhaps for mistakes made in the fight, but not the overall fight).

On behalf of his predecessor he should apologize for the things mentioned int he article and for acting like a-holes trying to run the world. But that apology is not to the Muslim World. He can apologize to the people of Iraq and/or Afghanistan , if he wants to apologize to the region I'd say that is a stretch, but okay...but he does not need to apologize to "Muslims"

Posted by: ballgame | June 3, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

All you people pushing for apologies are practicing intellectual incest. We have done nothing purposefully to hurt innocent people. We have not added one square inch to our country. We have not gained control of oil. Look how much more expensive gas is today than in 2001. We have not decapitated a Moslem Danny Pearl or Nick Berg. We allow mosques to be built everywhere. Can you even take a Christian Bible or a Torah into Saudi Arabia? Why do you hate yourselves?

Posted by: samwex | June 3, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Dan, your quote from Rush Limbaugh sent a shiver down my spine. And isn't it interesting how his spiel compares to the other right-wingers quoted in your piece. They at least pretend to some sort of logic. Limbaugh doesn't even attempt to appeal to reason or logic. His words reveal an incoherent emotional rage.

Posted by: gposner | June 3, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

One of the dissonent elements of Obama's speaking from Egypt is that the Egyptian government is an American-subsidized dictatorship and will remain so for the forseeable future. That is why Osama decided to attack the "far enemy" instead of the "near enemy." If the jihadists overthrew the Mubarak government, we would just coopt whatever government that replaced it and ensure that the new government would continue the policies of the old.

Posted by: dickdata | June 3, 2009 3:21 PM | Report abuse

Um, samwex, we invaded a sovereign nation under false premises, took thousands of captives based on hearsay, tortured many of them, and to date (according to an analysis by Johns Hopkins) have killed over a half-million Iraqis. Not to mention the sheer tone of our political discourse over the past eight years, which has been condescending in the extreme. Given all that, is it that herd to understand that Muslims in the mideast should be so angry and suspicious of us?

We owe an apology for these things because they are beneath our standards as a nation--standards you yourself cite in the form of our religious pluralism.

Posted by: whizbang9a | June 3, 2009 3:28 PM | Report abuse

While I agree that ". . . the entire neoconservative "war on terror" that was supposed to strike fear in the hearts of our enemies instead backfired spectacularly. . . at enormous cost to our nation's security and moral standing", I don't think an apology is needed or would be helpful to US interests. There is no need to feed the neocon blowhards. Obama gave a good answer in his interview with the BBC. We should open the door to better understanding and overcoming misconceptions on both sides.

Posted by: gjhinnova | June 3, 2009 3:41 PM | Report abuse

Public relations gurus routinely advise corporations to apologise for mistakes - it helps defuse the crisis. Why shouldn't our government behave the same way that our corporations routinely do?

As for the neocon's claim that they were fighting terrorism and not Islam, their habit of putting quotes from the Bible on official government briefing documents paints a very different picture.

Posted by: Common_Sense_Not_Common | June 3, 2009 3:45 PM | Report abuse

Bush co-opted progressive goals and American ideals in order to justify his wars. It was never Bush's intent to actually promote the spread of freedom and democracy, just to use that as a cover for the endless military actions he felt would cement his place in history as a "war time" President.

Posted by: fletc3her | June 3, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

Froomkin conveniently neglects to mention Bagram, or as MNBC calls it "Obama's new Guantanamo"

A US District Judge ruled that "some of those held at Bagram who were captured outside Afghanistan “are virtually identical to the detainees in Boumediene,” describing them as “non-citizens who were... apprehended in foreign lands far from the United States and brought to yet another country for detention.”"

So let's not forget Obama apologizing for Bargram, for his extraordinary renditions to countries who torture and for his assassination of untried terrorism suspects.

Posted by: bobmoses | June 3, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

It is relevant to ask what President Obama is supposed to be apologizing for.

Surely he would be ill-advised to take the line former President Bush did in blaming the lack of democracy in Arab countries on American foreign policy. It would probably be a mistake as well to take on the burden for everything that Arabs have done to each other. For example, overthrowing Saddam Hussein may have been questionable from many points of view as far as American interests were concerned, but the people who need to apologize for civilians being massacred in Baghdad markets are the Arabs who set off the bombs that killed them.

Dignity and respect, in the Western world, come with taking responsibility for one's own actions. That's not something President Obama or anyone else can do for the Arab countries.

Posted by: jbritt3 | June 3, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

" to date (according to an analysis by Johns Hopkins) have killed over a half-million Iraqis."

Well, that report has been shredded by people who actually understand how statistics actually work. Iraq Body Count has the toll at less than 100,000.

How about the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis that were killed by the sanctions that many folks say "were working?"

How many more would have died from the sanction since 2003?

Posted by: bobmoses | June 3, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

According to the story, commonsense, Rumsfeld had those covers put on in order to manipulate Bush. I don't think the Cheney-Bush team wanted to eradicate Islam itself, but their actions and words certainly made that interpretation easy. (I think Bush is more of a feel-good believer who's willing to tolerate other religions, and I think Cheney is a bit more like Saddam--secular and not religious in his outlook.)

On a broader theme, any interaction we have with mideastern nations involves some double standards on our part. The oil countries, including Egypt, are some of the most repressive, culturally backward, and autocratic on Earth. Women are less than slaves. Society is static and freedom doesn't exist. Even Islam's own golden age of science and literature--which spurred the Renaissance in Europe--is buried and ignored. To pursue the peaceful engagement that he wants, Obama has to give some legitimacy to these regimes. There's no other way at present.

Posted by: whizbang9a | June 3, 2009 4:09 PM | Report abuse

Not so, bobmoses. Shredded by those who are in the tank for their conservative benefactors. Kind of like the oil companies' bankrolling of climate research.

Posted by: whizbang9a | June 3, 2009 4:11 PM | Report abuse

Of course he should apologize. Thats the democrat way...America is always wrong and there are no enemies, just future facebook friends whose aggrievances we haven't yet addressed. So, good on Obama and the rest of the juice box least he's keeping in character.

Posted by: luca_20009 | June 3, 2009 4:18 PM | Report abuse

@ samwex: What on earth could apologies possibly have to do with hate and incest, my man?

Posted by: mobedda | June 3, 2009 4:25 PM | Report abuse

In the name of Safety, Karl Rove must undergo some "life-saving interrogation."

Posted by: motorfriend | June 3, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

It doesn't matter one hoot whether he apologizes or not. If he thinks apologizing will help create stability in the region then by all means do it, it won't hurt anything. We are through the stick phase and into the carrot phase. You can't have one without the other and the American people decided it was carrot time. So yeah go ahead and apologize.

Posted by: DCDave11 | June 3, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

I've looked into it a bit further, bobmoses. The AAPOR has censured him for not disclosing his methods. I don't have a subscription to the Lancet, but apparently in 2003 he described his survey methods there.

Posted by: whizbang9a | June 3, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

Just because we only torture Muslims does not mean we are at war with Islam!

It's a Crusade against Evil™.

Posted by: motorfriend | June 3, 2009 4:40 PM | Report abuse

The right wing is going bonkers about Obama apologizing for American actions because it potentially creates a dynamic in which Israel might be called upon to apologize for its actions. And Israel has much, much more to apologize for than the US, as do the Palestinians and any other state which have attacked and killed innocent Israeli civilians who only wanted to live in peace after the Holocaust. Obama may be the first to offer apologies but he should not be the last. There's plenty of blame to go around, and plenty of truths which need to be told and discussed by all parties, not just Israelis or not just Arabs, but by all parties. All have lied, all have killed and all have behaved unjustly.

Posted by: ripvanwinkleincollege | June 3, 2009 5:25 PM | Report abuse

After the lies about Iraq's WMD, and the horrors of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, nothing will work but truth and justice. Alas, President Obama's fawning on a Sheik and a murderous dictator in Cairo will only cement his reputation as the defender of the defenseless, richly deserved in his refusal to criticize Israel's bombing of Gaza in the run-up to his inauguration. Iran, on the contrary, has put its money where its mouth is. The reason tha King of the Saudis doesn't attack the Iranians in public is because it would probably be the end of the monarchy. He would have to be prepared to face the wrath of his own Shi'ite minority. Besides, there's no reason to think he is afraid of Iran. That he might be, is an Israeli myth that only Americans believe. The Saudi foreign minister has already said that they don't need the U.S. to tell them who their enemies are.

Posted by: roger27 | June 3, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

The "outrage" over Guantanamo and Abu Graib on the Arab Street is a creation of the American Press in their endless obsession with smearing the Bush administration. America is like a super model with a tiny pimple on her nose who has been convinced by her enemies (Read: the lefty press) that she is horribly disfigured. Does anyone think that scaring information out of three prisoners or a few fraternity pranks really make a rat's a__ difference to our enemies? These people blow up school children and dismember their prisoners! They are just happy to jump on America's masochistic, political band wagon.

Posted by: surfdogzstu | June 3, 2009 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Please, let's dispense with the word "apology" in regard to the President's Middle East initiatve. Being realistic about one's mistakes (or, to expand that realism to a national level), is not weakness. It is a sign of maturity. The approach of the past eight years was, to put it simply, an unproductive version of a schoolyard confrontation.

If there is a fault to admitting human (or national) imperfection, it is that of not, at the same time, extolling the virtues and actions of a country that inspires and gives hope to those overseas who lack the freedom of speech and right to pursuit of happiness that is inherent in our Constitution and Bill of Rights, and who desire to see those principles honestly demonstrated.

The one salient attitude that emanates from people such as Mitch Romney and Rush Limbaugh (and I hate to imply a comparison of Romney to Limbaugh), is that admitting mistakes is un-American, demonstrates weakness, and undermines our standing and power to effect positive change in the world.

Obama's Middle East tour is not an "apology" tour, it is a reality check, something for which former President Cheney and those who uncritically agree with him are long overdue.

Posted by: MillPond2 | June 3, 2009 6:00 PM | Report abuse

surfdogztsu, you're so out of touch you could move down to Louisiana and preach to the converted. The Arab anger at our invasion and occupation, as well as at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo, are very, very real. Check out some international press organizations--bbc, for one, and, are two easy places to start.

Posted by: whizbang9a | June 3, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

I would like to correct my previous post in which I called Mr. Cheney the "former President". My Freudian slip was showing.

Posted by: MillPond2 | June 3, 2009 6:44 PM | Report abuse

The prospect of Obama's speech is upsetting both the neocons and Al Qaeda - surely a sign that he is headed in the right direction.

Any strength that depends on never admitting error is really pretty fragile.

The additional fact that many will not even countenance the idea that we may have made mistakes reveals that their patriotism is mostly a psychological crutch.

There's not going to be any great mea culpa and beating of the breast; there will be an acknowledgment that errors were made, people suffered, and we're going to work harder to get it right.

The football coach who never admitted making an error would build a pretty bad record. And when he told the fans he'd never made an error, he'd get laughed at and drummed out of his job.

Yet that is the strategy these tough guys want Obama to use - follow in the footsteps of Bush, never review a decision, never admit a mistake, don't replace Rumsfeld until the occupation is spinning out of control ....

And we're not in this to cow an opposition into trembling at our approach - we're trying to bring the Muslim/Arab world on board in the struggle with extremism, the containment of nuclear proliferation, and to shift their societies towards the rule of law and democracy. Starting off by saying 'Its our way or the highway' and 'We're better than anyone else' is not going to win anyone over.

Arrogance and bullying have had their chance. Time to send them to the locker room.

Posted by: j2hess | June 3, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Hey lost the election. So shut up!!!!

Posted by: playa_brotha | June 3, 2009 8:01 PM | Report abuse

"one of the points I want to make is, is that if you actually took the number of Muslims Americans, we'd be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world."


Actually jacka$$ there are more muslims in Russia or Burkina Faso than the US.

Posted by: SharpshootingPugilist | June 3, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

"one of the points I want to make is, is that if you actually took the number of Muslims Americans, we'd be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world."


Actually jacka$$ there are more muslims in Russia or Burkina Faso than the US.

Posted by: SharpshootingPugilist | June 3, 2009 10:37 PM | Report abuse

Well, SharpshootingPugilist, if you read what he says, he says "ONE of the largest," not "THE largest."


Posted by: mikecub | June 4, 2009 3:40 AM | Report abuse

Umm, playa_brotha, this kind of schoolyard bullying - "Hey lost the election. So shut up!!!!" is more like what the the neo-con "repukes" stand for, if you feel you hold the moral high ground, you don't need to taunt.

Reminds me of a Krauthammer op-ed I read in the past couple weeks, unfortunately in my local paper, where he talks about the overwhelming victory in 2004 by Mr Bush. I felt like saying, how about the landslide in 2008? 6 or 7 million vote difference? But that was a retort to a ridiculous claim of obvious national acceptance to Bush's style of doing things, based on a 50.4% majority, or something close to that.

Posted by: mikecub | June 4, 2009 3:49 AM | Report abuse

What should he say? "Sorry we won the war?" What should he say of the past?

"Sorry that Hamas and Hezbollah are refusing peace?"

How about "The Peace train is about to leave the station. This is your last chance to get on."

We can leave all the bitter effects of our victory as something for Dan to write about. It will keep him busy for many years.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | June 4, 2009 5:55 AM | Report abuse

"The need for dignity and respect.."

The same dignity that lead white southerners to dress in white after the Civil War?

The same dignity that puts children in suicide bomb suits?

The same mindless dignity that says no peace until every Jewish person is dead?

I had rather call it madness.

Dignity is the most expensive illusion. Real dignity comes from an honest life lead under the pressure to do worse.

It is the ability to see a future of peace and know how to compromise to attain it.

Posted by: GaryEMasters | June 4, 2009 5:58 AM | Report abuse

"Offering a genuine apology requires allowing for nuance and uncertainty in ones worldview,..."

How much nuance is in surrender?

Posted by: GaryEMasters | June 4, 2009 6:00 AM | Report abuse

Wait a minute! We shouldn't apologize for the previous administrations bluster, an unjust war, and torture? Imagine, if you will, some country, say Russia, decided they wanted to unjustly overthrow our government and 20,000+ of our citizens (including YOUR family) were killed, raped, blown up, ripped from our homes and tortured in the process and when it was all over, the Russian government said that they were not going to apologize to the world for anything because we citizens were not necessarily targeted...we were just casualties of the conflict. And really, they came here because they didn't like the way we governed our country and treated our people. How would YOU feel about this? How would you feel about the president of Russia not giving a CRAP about you and your family, let alone your country?

Posted by: cheez | June 4, 2009 8:42 AM | Report abuse

Pragmatism. President Obama needs to re-establish US credibility among all the parties in order to become a more honest broker of Mid-East peace processes.

AIPAC and the Zionist support in the US is an enemy within, which needs also to be sidelined if new diplomatic efforts are to overtake near-term ubiquitous nuclear proliferation.

The President deserves and needs the support of his own citizens if peace efforts are to succeed. Congress, are you listening? The huge Israeli lobby that finances so many of our elected officials (and calls for congressional loyalty and allegiance to Israel) is a arguably a bigger obstacle than any to making America a "fair and honest broker" for Mid-East peace.

Posted by: rowens1 | June 4, 2009 10:17 AM | Report abuse

I must admit that liberals and the hate America progressives have not changed since the Cold War. You people represent a group of disgruntled, sad, psuedo intellectuals, berift of any sense of history, and in all probability have never actually lived in the real world. You are jealous of those who have worked hard and succeeded.
Any objective observor would realize that the "unjust war" in Iraq was based on assumptions that were shared by virtually every intelligence agancy in the world, and practically every high visability Democrat in Congress. By the way, I don't care what John's Hopkins states as the number of Iraqis killed by the US, these statistics are pure BS. Try doing some actual critical thinking and sound reasoningBy the way it appears that Saddam henchmen may have killed 300,000 Iraqis plus. Why don't you liberals ever talk about that? We have not killed half a million Iraqis. And those non-combatants that have been killed are almost exclusively victims of terror bombings. American troops do not indiscriminantly kill civilians.
But I am wasting my time. Most liberals would prefer to believe America is bad. I guess it's some kind of guilt thing.

Posted by: kfat46 | June 4, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse

KFAT46 wrote: "You people represent a group of disgruntled, sad, psuedo intellectuals, berift of any sense of history, and in all probability have never actually lived in the real world."

Funny, sounds exactly like the Neo-cons - a bunch of armchair warriors who were all draft dodgers in Vietnam yet they claim to be true warriors.

The only "pure bs" that you talk about spews from your own mouth. Please explain what Saddam killing 300,000 of his own people has to do with 9/11?

Furthermore you state "American troops do not indiscriminantly kill civilians." Tell that to all the Pakistanis killed by bombings.

Posted by: lasker1895 | June 4, 2009 11:26 AM | Report abuse

@kfat46: "I must admit that liberals and the hate America progressives have not changed since the Cold War."

Since that's self-evidently at odds with basic 5th grade American history, what you're actually admitting is that your extremist views haven't changed despite the world changing all around you. Hang on because it's going to get a lot scarier out there for you.

"Any objective observor would realize that the "unjust war" in Iraq was based on assumptions that were shared by virtually every intelligence agancy in the world, and practically every high visability Democrat in Congress."

Years later, I still don't understand how conservatives think this is a 'gotcha' point. The Bush administration received and controlled the flow of information from the CIA. They released what helped their case and classified/ignored intelligence that ran contrary to it. This is basic fact established years ago. So of course everyone else went along with the program - they only had half the information!

"American troops do not indiscriminantly kill civilians."

They try not to, but they do. Just like soldiers from every other country on the planet do. War crimes are an inevitable fact of war. Under levels of stress that most of us will never experience in our lives, decisions sometimes have to made. One vehicle ran over and killed a Baghdad family in an ice cream truck to escape a traffic jam that they suspected was created to trap them in an ambush. It was a tragedy but these are the things that really happen in war. It's the reason why war is supposed to be the last resort.

That was completely forgotten in the chest-thumping runup to the invasion of Iraq, and now you neocon chickenhawk cowards are trying to spread the blame far and wide. It's not working.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | June 4, 2009 1:22 PM | Report abuse

While the doctrine of Papal infallibility has been set aside by the Catholic Church, the "God loves America" crowd still can't accept error as possible. Being proud of America is one thing. Being blind to the possibility that American Foreign policy might be wrong is another.

The facts are that the Bush Administration invaded a sovereign country based of inaccurate and false information. Once there, the Bush Administration supported interrogation policies that ran counter to international treaties and American law of the last 60 years.

Republicans are the GM of politics. After failing to see a changing world and believing their own propaganda, they're bankrupt.

Posted by: thebobbob | June 4, 2009 1:46 PM | Report abuse

I'm confused. Why are individuals who obviously have a negative view of Dan Froomkin's column are reading his column and commenting negatively as if they are really contributing something? I don't read columns where I truly disagree with the writer. I don't expect to convince the writer of my point of view.

Apparently, some individuals have absolutely NOTHING to do or are suffering from Internetitis(if that is even a word) that they can't stay away from expounding their own views and don't even actually address the article.

Now I realize that my own current comment falls into that catagory, but reading through all of the comments, I actually gain a lot of information and get REALLY annoyed at those that just waste space. Please!

Posted by: sailorflat | June 4, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Why do you hate yourselves?
Posted by: samwex
I agree. I mean who are we saying sorry to for torture. Egypt? Syria? Saudi Arabia? Iraq? Iran? ALL these countries treat or treated their prisoners a heck of a lot worse than we treated ours. And I don't remember any Arab leader coming to our country to say he was sorry or wars they started or terrorist organizations they supported. The Iraqi people are free from Saddam because of us.. how many of them do you think wish Saddam was still in power? We drove the Taliban into the mountains.. was that not a good thing for Muslim women there? Hey we made mistakes sure.. we have made mistakes in every war. War by it's nature is brutal, but no US President I recall felt the need to say sorry to Germany, Japan, Korea or Vietnam.

Posted by: sovine08 | June 4, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

I'm confused. Why are individuals who obviously have a negative view of Dan Froomkin's column are reading his column and commenting negatively as if they are really contributing something? I don't read columns where I truly disagree with the writer. I don't expect to convince the writer of my point of view.
Posted by: sailorflat
Because we want to hear BOTH sides of an argument. By only listening to one side how do you know the whole story. If you were on a jury would you only want to limit yourself to hearing JUST the prosecution or the defense? And we comment negitively when we disagree not for the writer (though I hope Froomkin reads some of these comments) but to GIVE THE ANOTHER side of the argument. Most readers will never change their opinion.. but perhaps there are a few open minded people who will be convinced the other side makes a good point.

Posted by: sovine08 | June 4, 2009 4:27 PM | Report abuse

Where's the Randall Terry Republican outrage that Palin won't call murdering doctors "terrorism" either?

Double standard Republicans: do as I say not as I do, I'm above the rules and the law and you're not, move along now and let me drone on with my Obama bashing instead of contributing anything positive

Posted by: coloradodog | June 5, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

Apologize? Whoever becomes president next will have to spend the first year apologizing for the major damage that the Obamination of America has done to ALL America and Americans.

The worst president, the worst congress, the dumbest electorate has come together at the same time in history to produce the Obamination of America. The terrorists have to be happy that someone else is doing their work for them.

Posted by: ekim53 | June 5, 2009 4:07 PM | Report abuse

THERE SHOULD(!) BE APOLOGIES, but they should begin domestically IMO! (1) To every veteran who wore a military uniform during wartime - for the President's untoward remarks in "The Audacity of Hope" - section on Vietnam War; (2) to USAF Special Missions @ Andrews AFB, MD and a fighter unit @ Langley AFB, VA -- for abject stupidities of the White House Chief of Staff's Office on the needless scaring the bejabbers out of New York City residents for attempted photo op over Ground Zero; (3) firing a 'fall guy' Mr. Caldera of the WH Military Office -- "the keeper of the WH perks" - see USMC Bill Gulley's book "Breaking Cover" [c. 1979]; (4) to the presidential security detail & drivers of the motorcade - during "Day in the Life of ..." NBC-TV special telecast last week over two nights -- for failures to 'mind your manners, Mr. President' - viz. ordered for himself first @ hamburger stand, then TV crew members - but NOT US Secret Service security detail nor drivers who got THe Prez to and from the sites safely; and finally (5) whoever was involved in a SECOND ATTEMPTED New York CIty photo op - again using the USAF Special Missions Boeing 747, etc. - after Mr. Caldera's resignation from The White House Military Office had been accepted -- apparently wanting a photo op so badly the FAA had to "just say NO!" and GOOD FOR THEM! CHARITY like APOLOGIES SHOULD(!) BEGIN AT HOME! The list is just endless.

Posted by: gogosian2001 | June 7, 2009 11:28 AM | Report abuse

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