Why America Should Apologize
by Connor Boyack
by Connor Boyack: An
Open Letter to Apathetic Americans on Behalf of Ron Paul
interview last week about his new 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:
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.
unsurprisingly, is wrong. He’s not the only one spouting this hollow
rhetoric, however. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) said
recently during his CPAC speech that we should "never,
ever, ever" apologize for America. Former Governor Sarah Palin
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."
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:
Air Flight 655
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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 unnecessary military campaign desired by
a few politicians.
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.
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
Chilean coup d’état
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  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
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.
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
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….
purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown
Brothers in 19091912. 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 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…
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
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
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:
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.
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
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.
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
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
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?
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
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
with a crime:
Hicks was found guilty under retrospective legislation introduced
in 2006 of providing material support to terrorists in 2001.
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
sources, the government now plans to hold 47 of these individuals
in indefinite detention, neither giving them an opportunity to contest
the (likely erroneous) allegations made against them, nor releasing
them for lack of evidence.
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.
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"?
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.
[send him mail] is a web
developer, political economist, and budding philanthropist trying
to change the world one byte at a time. He lives in Utah with his
wife and son. Read his blog.
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