President Obama won't be formally apologizing to Pakistan for air strikes that killed two dozen Pakistani soldiers last weekend, at least not until a formal investigation is complete. The U.S. ambassador in Islamabad, Cameron Munter, urged Obama to issue a video apology to keep U.S.-Pakistan relations from collapsing, but the Defense Department overruled him, saying the remorse shown by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and other officials will suffice for now. Is declining to say "we're sorry" a solid strategy?
Yes, this is a time to stand up for the U.S. military: "An apology would be an affront to our troops," says Jonathan S. Tobin in Commentary. It would also "send a dangerous signal to both friends and foes in Afghanistan." If Obama won't stand up for his own soldiers, why would anyone believe he'd go out on a limb for our allies? This president has run around begging the world's forgiveness for what he sees as America's "sinful past" — "we should be grateful" this is one apology he won't make.
"One apology Obama won't make"
It is reckless not to apologize: The U.S. needs Pakistan's cooperation to beat the Taliban, says Robert Dreyfuss in The Nation. If the Obama administration doesn't repair the rift, we can forget about "winding down the war" in neighboring Afghanistan by 2014. "The United States needs to get on its knees and apologize," and focus on getting Pakistan's military and intelligence service, the ISI, "on board with a political deal to end the war."
"The crisis with Pakistan"
Pakistan just needs to simmer down: "Pakistan is so angry at the United States that it’s going to... what?" asks David Ignatius in The Washington Post. In a fit of pique, Islamabad is boycotting next week's conference in Bonn on a framework for stabilizing Afghanistan, and it has stopped trucks from ferrying supplies to U.S. troops in Afghanistan. But it's not in Pakistan's interest to make "a real and lasting break with Washington," so it needs to get over this, and move on.
"Pakistan's pique and the Afghan war"
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- There's a raging Islamic insurgency in Thailand's strangest party town
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- How one woman is standing up for India's abused husbands
- The 5 most important developments in climate change in 2014
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- New York City's police unions need to get a grip
- What would a U.S.-Russia war look like?
- How academia's liberal bias is killing social science
- Why we can't educate racism away
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
Subscribe to the Week