Why Won’t They Apologize?

The man in charge of the US-run prisons in Iraq has apologized for the way some of the Iraqi prisoners were abused. So has General Kimmitt. They use language like “I would like to apologize for our nation and for our military” and “My Army has been embarrassed by this. My Army has been shamed by this. And on behalf of my Army, I apologize for what those soldiers did to your citizens”

But Bush and Rumsfeld aren’t apologizing. Rumsfeld will say “any American who sees the photographs that we have seen has to feel apologetic”.

This is roughly analogous to “I’m sorry if you were offended”. It is nothing like an apology.

Bush and Rumsfeld generally get credit for being plain-spoken. Why aren’t they doing it now? What’s wrong with “This happened on my watch, by people under my command. I am sorry. America is sorry. The soldiers who did those things do not represent us. This is abhorrent. The people who were responsible, including the officers who should have known what was going on, will face justice. I’m taking personal responsibility to find out what happened, and who is responsible, and I will make sure they are punished.”

The man at the top has the responsibility for what happens. Bush and Rumsfeld are responsible, even if indirectly, for what happened. _We_ are responsible, because we are a democratic republic, and those are our elected leaders and our soldiers. Somewhere along the line, someone screwed up royally. Or maybe the whole system did. The soldiers were not men of honor. The officers weren’t. Or maybe the officers were negligent in letting this happen. I don’t know exactly how the abuses happened, but it is the fault of the men in charge and the system that allowed these soldiers to abuse the Iraqis.

And Bush and Rumsfeld ought to apologize, directly and unambiguously, both on behalf of America and _personally_. If they won’t, then they are not the men I thought they were.

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8 Responses to Why Won’t They Apologize?

  1. Jared says:

    I agree with you, but I fear the reason why is political. If Bush and/or Rumsfeld were to say “I’m sorry” personally, the Dems would more than likely take that as a claim to personal responsibility or “blame” for the atrocities and bring them up as deficits against their opponent in the election.
    Is it possible Bush is just watching his electable or unelectable butt here?

  2. Tony Rosen says:

    I’m definitely agreeing with Jared on this one. If it weren’t an election year, or President Bush were in his second term, I think we’d stand a better chance of him taking responsibility for those under his command.

  3. If it is for political reasons, then he’s even less of the man I thought he was.

    I like Jack Ryan’s approach in Clear and Present Danger. Give people nowhere to go. Take even more responsibility than is strictly yours. It’s hard to effectively beat up on someone who owns up to his faults, especially if the apology is coupled with a plan to fix it.

    I suppose there is a _chance_, although I do not believe this is the case, that Bush is not apologizing based on principle. He may be saying to himself, “I’m not going to apologize for something I didn’t do or authorize”.

    I have been very disappointed with Bush in the aftermath of Iraq – not because we’re having a bit of trouble, but because he doesn’t seem to be willing to own up. “We thought there were WMDs. _I_ thought there were WMDs. That was a big part of the case we made. There don’t seem to be WMDs. Here’s some of what we thought we knew, here’s the mistakes we made. But also, here are a lot of other things that were true that also justified the war.” We don’t get that from him. And I don’t know why. But I am disappointed.

    I also think he’s not handling it in a politically expedient way. I think people would react well to a “the buck stops here”, plain spoken leader. I know I would. It’s the image he portrayed during the campaign, and I think it is the man we saw in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. Maybe it’s his political handlers. Beats me. I just expect more of him than what we seem to be getting.

  4. Rong says:

    I agree with both Jared and Robert. There, that was easy.

    Seriously, I’ve wondered the same things that Robert is saying. Why not apologize for what the soldiers did. Why not say the buck stops here and as Commander and Chief I feel a grave responsibility for the inappropriate and unsanctioned actions of these men. He’s not admitting fault but he would be apologizing. I believe (at least I pray that is is the reason) as Jared does that his handlers fear what the Dems would do with an apology and are refraining him from doing so.
    As for the WMD I still think there is a lot more going on there than most of us know. You don’t spend the countless resources that Saddam spent and then just destroy them, but you may give them to someone else for safe keeping…

  5. Alison says:

    They’ve apologized now.

  6. See the power my blog has? I got them to apologize. :-D

    I wish I knew if they did it because they thought it was the right thing to do, or for political reasons. I guess there’s no way to know, so we’ll have to give them the benefit of the doubt.

  7. sam says:

    just testing plz dont mind

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