President Obama was excoriated for last month’s apology to Afghan President Karzai after several copies of the Koran were inadvertently burned. This type of criticism is nothing knew. Obama has been disparaged for years for apologizing for America. His speech in Berlin during the 2008 presidential campaign earned him one of the earliest censures. It was followed by the much-maligned 2009 apology tour of several continents during which Obama found plenty of fault with America’s past.
The president’s rebukes have been uttered in Ankara, London, Prague, Cairo, Strasbourg, Trinidad and Washington D.C., among other places. In these appearances, Obama criticized America for committing a whole host of misdeeds. Among them are slavery, mistreatment of Native Americans, the global financial crisis, nuclear weapons, global warming, practicing self-interest, being dismissive and derisive of our allies and arrogance.
While Obama’s denouncements were well received by the international community, many in this country resented them. So, critics viewed Obama’s letter to Karzai after last month’s Koran burning as just another apology by a president too eager to utter them.
But, that critical assessment is wrong. Obama has never actually apologized for America at all, not even to Karzai for the Koran burning incident. His earlier remarks amounted to admissions and condemnations, but they were never apologetic. Read in context, Obama’s statements are simply Obama being Obama. In most cases, he is ponderously critical, not just of America, but of the nations of his audience as well. His disparaging assessments come with utopian instructions on how countries must change in order to live in Obama’s future.
As far as the apology to Karzai is concerned, it was about as sincere as Rush Limbaugh’s mea culpa to Sandra Fluke. Obama’s intent was damage control. He wanted to save American lives and to minimize other predictable adverse consequences. For all the good it did. Afghanis killed six Americans and claimed another thirty lives in violent riots that continued for several days after the burning was reported. Regardless, apologies given to limit negative outcomes are not apologies at all.
When the riots in Afghanistan were in full force, the Defense Department announced that the remains of an undisclosed number of 9/11 victims were desecrated. The bodies of 9/11 victims were processed at the military mortuary at Dover Air Force Base. Until 2008, unidentifiable remains from the Pentagon attack and the plane crash in Shanksville, Pennsylvania were reduced to ashes and dumped in a landfill.