Wednesday, January 6, 2010

On "bowing" and "apologizing to the world"

I try to read the local newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal, everyday. I'll admit it...I go to the comics first. But I always read the first section, no matter what -- it's important to stay informed, if only to note what events are coming up later in the week locally.

Not surprisingly, my favorite section is the Opinions page. I especially love reading the readers' views as it's a great way to get your blood flowing in the morning.

A particular reader definitely had that affect on me today.

Writing on the recent Christmas day terrorist plot, the letter read:
After all the time President Barack Obama has spent traveling around the world bowing and scraping and apologizing for all the evil things Americans have done to the peace-loving people of the world, I thought we were done with that whole blowing up airliners thing.

But if Abdulmutallab and his al-Qaida buddies think that just because the Democrats are in charge, national security is taking an extended vacation, I hope they listen up. Our president has apologies he hasn’t even issued yet.

And if they try to blow up another one of our planes or create some other “man-made disaster,” I am confident our president will swiftly respond with the mother of all apologies.

They can consider themselves warned.
These remarks are typical for a person who ignores facts and chooses to blind themselves with misinformation.

To explain, it's best to revisit some history. The Bush years were characterized by an administration that chose to distance itself from the rest of the world. Whether it was done with good intentions or not is up for debate -- but it can't be denied that much of our diplomatic relations with the world during those years became strained directly by policies of the Bush doctrine.

So I ask this: is it wrong for the current president to try and fix these burned bridges? Is it wrong for him to decry some of the policies of the previous administration that he and millions of Americans now disagree with?

Many have said that Obama is misrepresenting America overseas by trying to improve our relationship with the nations that Bush had strained. Those actions, however, aren't the same as "apologizing" for America. Saying we were wrong about a policy decision in the past can actually be quite beneficial, especially if we want something from someone else. The opposing viewpoint, on the other hand, is childish and dangerous -- it purports that the actions of the past don't need to be remedied, that what mistakes were made don't need correction.

Acknowledging foreign heads of state in their traditional way is a practice that presidents -- liberal and conservative -- have done for many years. Richard Nixon bowed to the Emperor of Japan (the very Emperor who was in power during the bombing of Pearl Harbor). Dwight Eisenhower bowed to Charles de Gaulle, the leader of France after World War II. George W. Bush himself was very "buddy-buddy" with the Saudis, often being pictured holding hands with and arm-in-arm with several prominent Saudi royals.

People who are so set in their ways, who want only to believe that the president is a traitor, is bowing simply because he hates America, and is apologizing for its ideals, are people who are delusional. The president seeks only to better the lives of Americans and to better secure them -- but he disagrees with the previous administration's means to do so. What matters isn't whether the president is bowing to a Saudi prince or Japanese Emperor, but rather what results we are getting from this president with regards to foreign policy.

So far, despite the Christmas day incident, I believe Obama is doing a good job (as do other anonymous Bush administration officials).

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