Thursday, May 06, 2004

Was This an Apology?

The AP reports:

    President Bush apologized Thursday for the abuse and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. soldiers, saying the scenes of mistreatment had made Americans "sick to our stomachs."

    A day after he stopped short of apologizing, Bush told Jordan's King Abdullah II: "I was sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners and the humiliation suffered by their families.

    "I told him I was as equally sorry that people seeing those pictures didn't understand the true nature and heart of America," Bush said, standing in the Rose Garden alongside Abdullah.

This is a good start, but any apology needs to be made to the Iraqi's themselves, preferably in Iraq. And that last sentence makes the word "sorry" sound equivocal. More like an expression of regret than an actual apology.

Still, the message seems to have had a positive effect on King Abdullah.
    For his part, the king said, "We're all horrified by the images" of torture and abuse.

    He said he was confident that American investigations would find the guilty parties. The abuse by some soldiers "doesn't reflect the morals and values" of the United States, Abdullah said.

If other Arab leaders take their cue from the King of Jordan, this may have a largely salutary effect. But that seems a mighty big "if".

In saying he was sorry and promising to bring those responsible to justice, this statement seems to meet at least some of the suggestions made by Andrew Sullivan yesterday.
    He should show true responsibility and remorse, which I have no doubt he feels. I can think of no better way than to go to Abu Ghraib itself, to witness the place where these abuses occurred and swear that the culprits will be punished and that it will not happen again. It would be a huge gesture.

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