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.