by David Solway
The next president will have to embark once again on a worldwide “reset” campaign, apologizing to America’s allies for the shabby treatment meted out to them by Obama.
As we all know by this time, judging from President Obama’s junket behavior and his endless nostra culpae, America is probably the most flawed, aggressive, and insensitive nation on the face of the earth, bar none. It is guilty, we’ve been informed, of harboring the mistaken notion of historical exceptionalism, which it supposedly does not merit. It is guilty of imposing its imperial will on other countries and peoples without regard for their economic well-being and without the slightest consideration for their cultural structures, beliefs, and presuppositions. It has identified as an “axis of evil” nations which may have had legitimate grievances. It has been, apparently, a blundering hegemon riding roughshod over the planet, prosecuting wars it had no business starting in the first place, alienating nations it could have dealt with diplomatically, and wreaking misery and havoc when, with both insight and foresight, it might have brought peace and mutual understanding among needless belligerents. It has a dark past to purge and much to apologize for. So goes the current presidential narrative. And under Obama, it has indeed apologized, and done so with a vengeance, presumably redeeming its sullied image for all posterity.
Thus Obama has apologized to the UN for America’s propensity to “act alone” rather than take the road of multilateral consultation, a claim which is patently false. Obama has apologized to Europe for failing “to appreciate Europe’s leading role in the world” and for being arrogant, “even derisive.” Obama has apologized to Islam for having misprised, neglected, or demeaned the Muslim world and for grinding the umma beneath its colonial boot, and is now seeking pardon in the hope of restoring the harmony of “20 or 30 years ago” — which of course never existed. Obama has apologized to Turkey for “difficulties” and “strained” trust over “these past few years” — the same Turkey that is moving inexorably into the Iranian orbit of influence. Obama has apologized, through State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, to Libyan despot Muammar Gaddafi for offensive remarks clumsily delivered. Dispatching his adviser Valery Jarrett to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Obama has apologized by proxy to the entire planet for America’s role in the economic meltdown. Obama effectively apologized to Japan for the way in which the war in the Pacific theater was brought to an end. Obama has apologized to Russia by other means, offering to press the “reset” button, as per the hapless Hillary Clinton. Via his mouthpiece Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner, Obama has apologized to China, perhaps the world’s worst human rights offender, for Arizona’s entirely legitimate new immigration law. Obama’s Magical History Tour shows no sign of ever folding its tent and returning, however belatedly, to the real world or to the realm of national dignity.
When Obama is swept from office in 2012, as he surely will be if the American people still retain a femtogram of good sense, a Republican president will have his or her work cut out for them. Be it Mitt Romney or Sarah Palin or — who knows? — the very impressive Tom McClintock (sanely refusing to apologize to Mexican President Felipe Calderón, who objected to the Arizona immigration law, but administering a thorough dressing down instead), a major rehabilitation effort will be necessary. For the new president will have to embark once again on a worldwide “reset” campaign, apologizing to America’s allies for the shabby treatment meted out to them by the former president.
He (or she) will need to apologize to Honduras for Obama’s backing of mini-Chavez, would-be dictator Manuel Zelaya who attempted to steal a country. He (or she) will need to apologize to Poland and the Czech Republic for Obama’s broken promises and his crude mishandling of the anti-missile program. He (or she) will need to ask forgiveness from the Iranian people whom Obama abandoned in the midst of their bloody uprising against a repressive and violent regime. He (or she) will need to soothe the ruffled feelings of the British electorate for having insulted their prime minister with the meager gift of unplayable CDs and for returning the bust of Winston Churchill. And he (or she) will need to make amends to Israel for Obama’s inexcusable conduct toward Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and for putting all the onus for the success of the so-called “peace talks,” whether “proximity” or “direct,” — or the blame for their failure — on the Jewish state while giving the Palestinians every benefit of the doubt and pandering to their insatiable demands.
This will be no easy task as the abjection of apology does not befit a great and admirable nation, but Obama has left his successor no choice but to apologize, both for his orgy of apologies to America’s enemies and competitors and for his churlish betrayal of America’s allies and friends.
When the business of restitution is accomplished, enemies put on notice and friends restored to their proper place, and once the United States is prepared to resume its former pre-eminence and proud stature as the world’s best arbiter and as Abraham Lincoln’s “last best hope,” apologies can cease altogether — except, perhaps, for the apology the American people should make to themselves and to their children for having elected the most feckless and damaging sorcerer’s apprentice of a president in the storied chronicle of the republic.
David Solway is a Canadian poet and essayist. He is the author of The Big Lie: On Terror, Antisemitism, and Identity, and is currently working on a sequel, Living in the Valley of Shmoon. His new book on Jewish and Israeli themes, Hear, O Israel!, has just been released by Mantua Books.