Stop The Apologizing
By Claudia Rosett
July 23, 2009
Hillary Clinton shouldn't blame the U.S. for climate concerns.
In a year that has not lacked for absurd moments, one of the most bizarre just passed almost unnoticed. That would be the spectacle of the U.S. secretary of state apologizing to India for the climate of the planet.
Hillary Clinton was speaking in Mumbai, making remarks last Saturday at the Taj Mahal hotel--which was one of the sites hit last November by Islamic radicals from Pakistan. During a three-day rampage, wielding AK-47s, pistols and grenades, they terrorized the city, killing more than 160 people and wounding more than 300, at locations including another hotel, the train station, a hospital and a Jewish community center.
For Clinton to speak at the Taj was a potent reminder of the very real and urgent concerns of our time, which Clinton talked about under the label of "violent extremism." This formulation has become standard American diplo-speak, in which there are no specific actors, just generic forces of "extremism" and "violence."
But at the same press conference, when asked about "climate change," Clinton in assigning blame for the woes of mankind did not hesitate to name names--or at least one name: the United States. She said: "Our point is very simple: that we acknowledge, now with President Obama, that we have made mistakes--the United States--and we, along with other developed countries, have contributed most significantly to the problems that we face with climate change."
Such U.S. breast-beating, of which there has been plenty in recent times, may start to sound like mere ritual; a sort of diplomatic throat-clearing. In the six months since taking office, Barack Obama has made a habit of offering apologies abroad--in places such as Istanbul, Cairo and Moscow--for the "mistakes" and "flaws" of the United States.
Even speaking from the American Cemetery in Normandy, at commemorations last month of the 65th anniversary of the World War II Allied campaign to liberate [OLD] Europe, Obama threw in a note about the "mistakes" of the liberators.
But there are real consequences and vast costs riding on some of this self-blame, not least the idea that America now owes apologies and compensation to the rest of the world for changes in the weather. [???] At the crux of this is a fixation on limiting carbon emissions. America is a big per-capita emitter. And low emission has become a new measure of virtue, propagated for years now by the ever-expanding climate bureaucracy of the United Nations and currently embraced by much of official Washington.
In a recent editorial headlined "King Canute at the G-8," The Wall Street Journal ridiculed, with good reason, the declaration from a recent meeting of the world's major industrialized nations that they would not permit the global average temperature of the earth to rise more than two degrees Celsius. (The colossal costs of this ambition would be imposed in rising scale over the next four decades on many folks who are now not yet old enough to vote.)
At the U.N., in locations from Bali to Rio de Janeiro to New York, slews of conferences in recent years have been honing demands that high carbon emitters, such as the U.S., both limit their activities and pay compensation to low carbon emitters, such as Bangladesh, Bolivia or Tanzania. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has most recently led the charge, decrying "global warming," or now, as global cooling has begun inconveniently manifesting itself, "climate change." Ban is now campaigning for countries such as the U.S. to "seal the deal" at a United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen this December, which aims to produce a global protocol of rules and wealth transfers. These would constrain and penalize Americans in service of U.N. dreams of controlling the climate and--yes, a la King Canute--the tides.
The problem with all this is not simply that despite U.N. claims of "consensus" on "climate change," there is actually plenty of dissent from well-qualified scientists over what causes the climate to change, and whether carbon, or mankind, is responsible at all. That is, in itself, a big glitch, and I find the skeptics persuasive. But even if we assume for purposes of argument that the U.N. version is correct, and global temperature and sea level can be fine-tuned to the decimal point by a vast political web of carbon regulation, there is yet another aspect to all this--which U.S. apologies utterly fail to take into account.
That would be the myriad ways in which human beings have been at work for millennia, and especially over the past century or two, inventing, creating, building and adapting to cope with climate and the broad forces of nature.
A prime contributor to the success of those efforts has been the United States. During those same two recent centuries, in which--not so coincidentally --America's free enterprise system has prospered, the world has benefited in leaps and bounds. Out of America have come such inventions as the light bulb, the internal combustion engine, the airplane, the telephone and medical progress on many fronts. American ingenuity, motivated by free markets, took the technology of computers from vacuum tubes to laptops. And though Al Gore did not invent the Internet, America did.
In many faraway places that most Americans rarely hear about and many will never visit, such U.S.-born bounty has helped illuminate the night, connect people with the world, raise productivity and living standards, and enhance health and extend lives. Nor has it been entirely inconsequential to human progress that America--with its mighty productive powers and dedication to democracy, as well as its carbon output--played a vital part in winning World War II and the Cold War. The U.S. is now on the front line of the Overseas Contingency Operation, until recently known as the Global War on Terror.
If you believe that for the welfare and future of mankind, nothing matters but carbon emissions, then Ban Ki-Moon is right; and Hillary Clinton was right to apologize on behalf of America for the world's weather.
Of course, that would actually make Clinton, and every other member of Obama's cabinet, a de facto Secretary of Combustion, because--remember--in this scheme, nothing matters but carbon emissions. From there, policy prescriptions unroll more naturally than apologies out of Obama's Cabinet. The U.S. can easily become the most virtuous country in the world simply by banning all human activity. There'd be no one left to apologize, but that's OK, because there'd also be nothing to apologize for.
In such a world, genocide would be a virtue, and poverty would be a good thing; all tending toward lower carbon emissions. Judged strictly by low carbon count, some ofthe admirable countries today, according to World Bank statistics, are Afghanistan, Albania, Laos, Myanmar, North Korea and Zimbabwe. Not coincidentally, the full roster of low emitters includes a large number of brutal dictatorships, or countries recovering from horrible misrule. In these countries, people are poor, and carbon emissions are low because individuals have (or had) no freedom to choose, to create or to pursue their dreams.
Obviously, however, Clinton and Obama do not think poverty is a good thing. Also while in India, Clinton pointed out that the G-8, of which the U.S. is a member, has just pledged another $20 billion to fight global poverty. The State Department and White House are flush with projects and programs aimed at fighting poverty.
It seems that even in today's Washington, carbon is not the sole determinant of goodness and human well-being on earth. Trade-offs matter. And just in case mankind, via U.N. protocols and Washington edicts, cannot succeed in transforming the planet into one vast, serene, unchanging and pleasantly cool Club Med, those trade-offs will matter a lot.
It may well be that whatever the climate brings, for whatever reasons, the most valuable resource will be the creativity of mankind--which, carbon emissions and all, flourishes best with minimal constraints from government. America, at least until now, has been an excellent example of this, and that is a point an American secretary of State, or president, can be proud of. Political leaders could much better serve their country by repeating it clearly and often, in place of this parade of apologies for America's "mistakes."
Obama’s foreign policy: Groveling for goodwill
July 23, 2009
On her recent trip to India, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton learned yet another lesson about how much international goodwill President Obama has earned with his incessant apologies and submissive attitude in international affairs. Clinton delivered to the Indians a ridiculous soliloquy apologizing for America's Industrial Revolution and our world-shaping technological achievements (which so often feed the hungry, cure the sick, and house the poor around the world). “We acknowl edge now with President Obama, that we have made mistakes – the United States – and we, along with other developed countries, have contributed most significantly to the problems that we face with climate change,” she said. “We are hoping that a great country like India will not make the same mistakes.”
f the United States follows Obama's plan to cap carbon dioxide emissions, the hundreds of thousands of manufacturing jobs it will lose as a result will migrate to India and other developing nations. That will insure growing economies for p laces like India and China, even as they emit the carbon that Americans choose to forego. Thus, without India and other developing nations joining us in the economic self-immolation of Obama’s cap-and-trade program, there will be no net reduction in carbon emissions.
Romney Condemns Obama's 'Tour of Apology'
By Chris Cillizza
Washington Post Blog
June 1, 2009
Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (R) roundly condemned the approach President Obama has taken to redefining America to the world, describing it as a "tour of apology" in a speech to the conservative Heritage Foundation today.
In an address through which he sought to lay out his broad vision for national security -- a $50 billion per year increase in the defense modernization budget, "regime-crippling sanctions" against North Korea, and full funding for a missile defense system -- Romney saved his harshest criticism for the current president.
"This is the time for strength and confidence, not for apologizing to America's critics," said Romney at one point; at another, he said that "arrogant, delusional tyrants can not be stopped by earnest words and furrowed brows."
Romney's speech is part of a stepped-up effort by the former Massachusetts governor to draw contrasts with Obama in expectation of challenging him for the presidency in 2012.
Less than 24 hours before hitting Obama on defense and national security, Romney was on "Fox News Sunday" taking issue with the administration's plan to put General Motors into bankruptcy to restructure the company.
"We don't want a president and a head of the [United Auto Workers] running General Motors," Romney said at the time. "The American public ought to own that enterprise."
Romney's increasing willingness to speak out against Obama is an indication that he sees himself as far better suited than former vice president Dick Cheney or even former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (Ga.) to fill the leadership void in which the GOP currently finds itself.
Romney, while derided by many Democrats, is one of the most popular figures among the party faithful, many of who believe his decision to step aside for Sen. John McCain (Ariz.) and subsequent work on behalf of the GOP presidential nominee last year proved his mettle.
Republicans also regard Romney as their most effective economic messenger, able to draw on his successes in the private sector to combat the bully pulpit afforded to Obama.
Seeking to move into that leadership vacuum also has obvious benefits for Romney who is making little secret of his interest in running for national office again in 2012. The more he can emerge as Obama's foil, the more he will solidify his place as the frontrunner for the GOP nomination in three years time.
Romney is also working tirelessly behind the scenes to line up support for such a bid, campaigning all over the country -- most recently in Virginia -- on behalf of Republican candidates.
No one in the GOP is fighting on the policy and political fronts like Romney at the moment. It's why he holds down the number one slot on the Fix's Friday Line of the most influential Republicans in the country.
Obama’s ‘apologies’ are a strength [??]
By Gideon Rachman
May 4 2009
“I will never apologise for the United States, ever. I don’t care what the facts are.” President George H.W. Bush’s statement in 1988 was more than just a “Bushism”, of the sort that his son later made famous. It was also a pithy summary of a whole school of thought in the US.
For many conservative Americans, one of the besetting sins of their liberal rivals is a tendency to go around apologising for their country. Jeane Kirkpatrick, a combative conservative, memorably excoriated liberals as the “blame America first” crowd.
Now conservatives are complaining loudly that one of those namby-pamby, self-flagellating liberals is sitting in the Oval Office – abasing himself and the country before foreigners. President Barack Obama, they complain, has turned himself into “global apologiser-in-chief”. Rush Limbaugh, the doyen of conservative talk radio, rages that “everywhere he goes, he’s just apologising for the United States”.
In the Los Angeles Times, the political commentator James Kirchik lambasted Mr Obama for his “grand, global apology tour this spring”. It all started, according to Mr Kirchik, when the president gave an interview to Al Arabiya television and called for “mutual respect” between the US and the Muslim world. Mr Obama repeated the sin when, in a speech calling for nuclear disarmament, he said: “As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act.” Then in Turkey, the president “apologised some more” by talking of “strained trust” between the US and the Muslim world. And to compound his sins, at the Summit of the Americas, Mr Obama “calmly sat through a 50-minute anti-American tirade by the communist leader of Nicaragua ... and was disturbingly ebullient in glad-handing Venezuelan autocrat Hugo Chávez”.
The alert reader will have noticed that none of the examples cited by the outraged Mr Kirchik actually contains the word “sorry”. Nor is it clear what Mr Obama was expected to do with Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua – deck him? Even when Mr Obama has been unambiguously apologetic, his opponents often quote him out of context. So Mr Kirchik cites the president’s remark to a European audience that “there have been times when America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive”. But he carefully omits the next line – “But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual, but can also be insidious”.
For many of Mr Obama’s critics, however, this kind of detail is beside the point. They believe that the president is running his country down – and that such a policy is weak, unpatriotic and ultimately dangerous. Newt Gingrich, a leading Republican, worries that Mr Obama is sending the wrong signal, arguing that “the predators, the aggressors, the anti-Americans, the dictators – when they sense weakness, they all start pushing ahead”.
This kind of debate is not unique to the US. John Howard, a conservative Australian prime minister, decried what he called “the black armband version of Australian history”, which saw his country’s history as “little more than a disgraceful story of imperialism, exploitation, racism”. It took 40 years to elapse before a Frenchpresident, Jacques Chirac, was able to acknowledge in public that Vichy France had collaborated in the Holocaust and to apologise.
Many patriotic defenders of the US would bridle at any such comparison. In their view, other countries apologise because they have a lot to apologise for. But America is, as Ronald Reagan liked to say, “a shining city on a hill” – the nation that restored freedom to Europe in 1945 and then faced down the threat of the Soviet empire.
It is true that modern America has more to be proud of than most other nations. But it would be absurd for Mr Obama, whose wife is descended from slaves, to deny that America, too, has shameful episodes in its past.
What America thinks about its recent history, in particular, is of more than academic interest. The US is the global superpower – and what it says about its past tells us something about what it will do in the future. So when Mr Obama suggests that the US has made mistakes in its dealings with Europe or the Muslim world, he is quite deliberately sending a signal.
[The US has NOT made mistakes when dealing with Europe. Europe is fortunate just to be alive and free. If Europe seeks an apology, it should look within itself, not to America.]
To his conservative critics, the signal he is sending is one of weakness. But no fair reading of Mr Obama’s various comments suggest that he is ashamed of his country, or that he intends to sacrifice American interests. What he is doing is trying to improve some of the poisonous relationships that he inherited from President George W. Bush by acknowledging, usually in rather coded language, that the US, too, can make mistakes. [LAUGHABLE] In the aftermath of the invasion of Iraq and the torture scandal, this is not an unreasonable point to make. Proclaiming that the US is always right and virtuous may go down well in the American heartland, but it tends to antagonise foreigners – and that is simply counter-productive.
More important, a willingness to discuss your country’s history self-critically is a mark of an open society.
Vladimir Putin has had Russian history textbooks rewritten to take a more positive view of Stalinism. The Chinese ferociously repress any challenges to the official version of the history of Taiwan. Mature democracies do things differently. They are not afraid of open discussion.
Mr Obama’s willingness to acknowledge past American errors is a sign of strength, not of weakness.
[TO PLACE OBAMA'S APOLOGY TOUR ON PAR WITH THE ADMISSION OF HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AND REPRESSION SUFFERED AT THE HANDS OF THE STALINIST SOVIET UNION AND COMMUNIST CHINA REGIMES IS ABSURD.]
Great leaders aren't defined by consensus.
By Karl Rove
Wall Street Journal
April 22, 2009
President Barack Obama has finished the second leg of his international confession tour. In less than 100 days, he has apologized on three continents for what he views as the sins of America and his predecessors.
Mr. Obama told the French (the French!) that America "has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive" toward Europe. In Prague, he said America has "a moral responsibility to act" on arms control because only the U.S. had "used a nuclear weapon." In London, he said that decisions about the world financial system were no longer made by "just Roosevelt and Churchill sitting in a room with a brandy" -- as if that were a bad thing. And in Latin America, he said the U.S. had not "pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors" because we "failed to see that our own progress is tied directly to progress throughout the Americas."
By confessing our nation's sins, White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said that Mr. Obama has "changed the image of America around the world" and made the U.S. "safer and stronger." As evidence, Mr. Gibbs pointed to the absence of protesters during the Summit of the Americas this past weekend.
That's now the test of success? Anti-American protesters are a remarkably unreliable indicator of a president's wisdom. Ronald Reagan drew hundreds of thousands of protesters by deploying Pershing and cruise missiles in Europe. Those missiles helped win the Cold War.
There is something ungracious in Mr. Obama criticizing his predecessors, including most recently John F. Kennedy. ("I'm grateful that President [Daniel] Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old," Mr. Obama said after the Nicaraguan delivered a 52-minute anti-American tirade that touched on the Bay of Pigs.) Mr. Obama acts as if no past president -- except maybe Abraham Lincoln -- possesses his wisdom.
Mr. Obama was asked in Europe if he believes in American exceptionalism. He said he did -- in the same way that "the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks in Greek exceptionalism." That's another way of saying, "No."
Mr. Obama makes it seem as though there is moral equivalence between America and its adversaries and assumes that if he confesses America's sins, other nations will confess theirs and change. But he won no confessions (let alone change) from the leaders of Venezuela, Nicaragua or Russia. He apologized for America and our adversaries rejoiced. Fidel Castro isn't easing up on Cuban repression, but he is preparing to take advantage of Mr. Obama's policy shifts.
When a president desires personal popularity, he can lose focus on vital American interests. It's early, but with little to show for the confessions, David Axelrod of Team Obama was compelled to say this week that the president planted, cultivated and will harvest "very, very valuable" returns later. Like what?
Meanwhile, the desire for popularity has led Mr. Obama to embrace bad policies. Blaming America for the world financial crisis led him to give into European demands for crackdowns on tax havens and hedge funds. Neither had much to do with the credit crisis. Saying that America's relationship with Russia "has been allowed to drift" led the president to push for arms negotiations. But that draws attention away from America's real problems with Russia: its invasion of Georgia last summer, its bullying of Ukraine, its refusal to join in pressuring Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions, and its threats of retaliation against the Poles, Balts and Czechs for standing with the U.S. on missile defense.
Mr. Obama is downplaying the threats we face. He takes comfort in thinking that Venezuela has a defense budget that "is probably 1/600th" of America's -- it's actually 1/215th -- but that hasn't kept Mr. Chávez from supporting narcoterrorists waging war on Colombia (a key U.S. ally) or giving petrodollars to anti-American regimes. Venezuela isn't likely to attack the U.S., but it is capable of harming American interests.
Henry Kissinger wrote in his memoir "Years of Renewal": "The great statesmen of the past saw themselves as heroes who took on the burden of their societies' painful journey from the familiar to the as yet unknown. The modern politician is less interested in being a hero than a superstar. Heroes walk alone; stars derive their status from approbation. Heroes are defined by inner values; stars by consensus. When a candidate's views are forged in focus groups and ratified by television anchorpersons, insecurity and superficiality become congenital."
A superstar, not a statesman, today leads our country. That may win short-term applause from foreign audiences, but do little for what should be the chief foreign policy preoccupation of any U.S. president: advancing America's long-term interests.
Mr. Rove is the former senior adviser and deputy chief of staff to President George W. Bush.