Since taking office, President Obama has made a habit of using podiums abroad to apologize and express regret for American behavior of past years.
Sunday, May 10, 2009
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.
While the move could yield diplomatic fruit by easing tensions between the U.S. and nations that felt sidelined during the Bush administration, Republicans have also criticized the president for using the world stage to scold his own country.
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.
The Associated Press