Yesterday, the President and Secretary of State of the United States of America went on Pakistani television to apologize.
In a commercial containing clips from their Washington press conferences, subtitled in Urdu, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton said “sorry” to the mad hordes attacking the American embassy in the Pakistani capital of Islamabad and deplored the infamous anti-Muslim14-minute YouTube video.
“We absolutely reject its content and message,” said Clinton in the advertisements, which ended with the seal of the American embassy in Pakistan. U.S. taxpayers footed the bill for this high-level official apology to the tune of $70,000.
This is not public diplomacy. This is madness.
First off, Clinton and Obama should actually issue another apology—this one to the personnel of the U.S. embassy in Cairo. Their apology statement, posted on the embassy’s website on September 11 while the embassy was under attack, was denounced the following day by the Secretary of State and the President and subsequently taken down.
All these apologies are, however, extensions of the Obama “apology tour,” the moral underpinning of the President’s approach to foreign policy, which holds that the U.S. must be at fault whenever international problems arise. It began soon after his inauguration and is still going strong. The President has apologized for Guantanamo; for the CIA and its techniques; for U.S. policies toward the Americas; for slavery, segregation, and the treatment of Native Americans; for the War on Terrorism; for policy toward the Muslim world, etc., etc.
At the heart of Obama’s display of humility, however, is his belief in his own power to redeem this country’s many sins. To the G-20 summit of world leaders, Obama stated in 2009, “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.” Clearly, the rioting mobs burning the American flag and even the President’s image don’t see it that way.
Instead of apologies, the public diplomacy message of the Administration should be a defense of American people, values, and interests. Here is what a worthwhile commercial featuring Clinton and Obama might have said:
We have had enough. The United States stands for freedom of expression at home and abroad and will continue to do so in the face of thuggish intimidation. Freedom of expression is a fundamental principle enshrined in the U.S. Constitution as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We stand with those who share these values, and we demand that all violence against our embassies and personnel cease immediately.
Sadly, though, the apology tour continues.