Saturday, May 08, 2004

Apologies all around 

A Sorry State
Key paragraphs:
If Rumsfeld. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz or Joint Chiefs Chairman Richard B. Myers were honorable men they would resign in shame. But they are not. If Bush were of presidential caliber he would have sacked them by now -- and taken full personal responsibility for their incompetence. But wherever the buck stops these days, it surely is not on the president's desk. Yet nothing short of such an old-fashioned assumption of duty can now retrieve America's standing in the community of nations. To the rest of the world Bush's apologies are mere exercises in damage control. The same president who spoke of leading God's crusade against Evil and who basked in the self-congratulatory aura of his invincible warriors will have difficulty convincing the rest of humanity that he really cares about a few brutalized Arabs. Given the president's simultaneous and reiterated insistence that neither he nor his staff have done anything wrong and that there is nothing to change in his policies or goals, who will take seriously such an apology, extracted in extremis? Like confessions obtained under torture, it is worthless. As recent events have shown, America under Bush can still debase and humiliate its enemies. But it has lost the respect of its friends -- and it is fast losing respect for itself. Now that is something to feel sorry about.

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