Saturday, October 02, 2010

Are Apologies Enough?

Here's a Simple Quiz:  What do you see in common in all the following brief extracts from random news stories?
The US has apologized for what some of its scientists did between 1946 and 1948, which has now come out into the open. These scientists deliberately infected about 1,500 prisoners, soldiers and mentally ill asylum patients with syphilis and gonorrhea, in order to study whether penicillin can prevent infection from these scourges. At least one died; and the record is not clear on how many were cured. This unethical research was not publicly disclosed until October 1, 2010. The Surgeon General of the US at the time acknowledged, it could not have been done in the United States. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have telephoned and apologized to the Guatemalan President. The US Government has instituted a task force to investigate into the detailed facts. Apologies over and done with. Pesky problem out of the way.

The US Homeland Security has apologized for questioning Praful Patel, India's Civil Aviation Minister, in a case of what they called mistaken identity.

The US Department of State has apologized to Russia for effectively kidnapping a Russian pilot in Liberia, suspected of drug smuggling, and failing to inform Russia immediately.

The US State Department has apologized for comments made about Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi

The US government apologized for displaying the Philippine flag upside down at an event in New York attended by US President Barack Obama.

The US apologizes for soldier using Koran in target practice. 

The United States formally apologized to American Indian tribes Wednesday for “ill-conceived policies” and acts of violence committed against them.

The US apologized to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, one of its staunchest allies in Europe, for an "insulting'' biography that was handed out to White House reporters at the Group of Eight meetings in Japan. 

The United States has issued a written apology to a jet-setting billionaire businessman with close ties to former President Bill Clinton whose name was added to the no-fly list in the wake of the attempted Christmas day bombing of an American passenger plane.

Nearly 60 years after the United States forced more than 2,000 Latin Americans of Japanese descent to be deported to the United States and detained in camps during World War II, the federal government apologized yesterday for their "wrongful internment" and agreed to pay each former internee $5,000.

The Pakistani Defense Ministry said the United States has apologized to Pakistan over mistreatment of a military delegation.

You guessed it. The US is apologizing! But hey, there's a lot of apologizing still remaining to be done. 

The US Government has yet to apologize for the Abu Ghraib excesses in Iraq. Donald Rumsfeld "accepted full responsibility" but neither has he or the Government that he was part of, apologized for the shocking atrocities that has forever alienated every Arab from the US. President Bush once apologized for the "humiliation" some Iraqi prisoners suffered at the hands of U.S. troops but in the same sentence, he said that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld is safe in his job. The US administration has consistently characterized the Abu Ghraib torture scandal as an isolated incident uncharacteristic of US actions in Iraq; this view is widely disputed, notably in Arab countries, but also by organizations such as the International Red Cross as "a pattern and a broad system". Not a dollar of compensation has been paid to anyone who suffered or died in the torture scandal. 

The US continues to kill innocent civilians in drone attacks in Afghanistan/ Pakistan, but has yet to issue an apology or halt these drone attacks. Civilian death are mere "collateral damage" while attempting to eliminate "insurgents".

The US has brought Iraq to its knees. Iraq seems in hindsight to have been well-governed, albeit undemocratically, and are now running away leaving the country in an ungovernable mess, because, while they had a plan to win the war, naively enough, they had none to win the peace. And all this, with provocations that have been shown to be lies and fabrications.

Is apologizing enough? If so, then BP should be allowed to resume their business without further costs or damages for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, as they have apologized, and even brought in a new CEO, that expresses their contrition.

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