President Barack Obama has made abject apologies for the actions of his predecessors a cornerstone of his foreign policy."
In his recent trips to Europe and the Caribbean, he apologized for the arrogance of President George W. Bush, and he sought forgiveness for the latter's treatment of terrorists captured after 9/11. But Mr. Obama should go further.
He should apologize to the French, the British, and the Russians because we entered the First World War three years after they did. "The War to end all Wars" started in 1914; yet we didn't come into it until 1917.
Mr. Obama should apologize because the United States failed to join the League of Nations, the predecessor organization to the United Nations. Our absence was a compelling reason why the League stood by and did nothing, in the 1930s, when Imperial Japan invaded China, Fascist Italy invaded Ethiopia, and Nazi Germany took the Sudetenland from Czechoslovakia, annexed Austria, and remilitarized the Rhineland.
Mr. Obama should apologize to the Japanese because we made them attack Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Pearl Harbor was our fault because we never bothered to learn Japanese language, culture, and history. In Hawaii, California, Oregon, and Idaho we discriminated against both Japanese immigrants and Japanese-Americans.
And President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, in the run-up to Pearl Harbor, steadfastly refused to let the Japanese extend their power in East Asia. That's why they destroyed much of our Pacific fleet. We ignored their vital interests and their legitimate national concerns.
President Obama should apologize to the Germans as well. They would never have declared war on us if FDR had acquiesced in the Nazi need for lebensraum in other parts of Europe. Also, to his eternal shame, President Roosevelt never engaged Adolf Hitler in dialogue. Aren't all problems solvable if you negotiate about them long enough and hard enough? As in the case of Japan, President Roosevelt never bothered to fathom the "root causes" of Germany's unhappiness with the United States.
Moreover, instead of ending the Second World War as rapidly as possible, he warned that the war would end only when the Allies were completely victorious. Instead of waging it as humanely as possible, he permitted carpet bombing of both German and Japanese cities, sometimes killing 100,000 enemy civilians in a single night.
That kind of talk and that method of warfare might have been acceptable to an aging British imperialist like Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who preached "victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory however long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival."
But, then as now, there's no room for such war talk and such warfare in liberal America.
President Obama must also apologize to the Koreans, the Cubans, and the Israelis.
By not decisively defeating the North Koreans in the 1950s' Korean War, and breaking one of the world's most brutal regimes, President Harry S. Truman made it possible for the communists to develop and sell nuclear weapons and associated delivery systems. The North Korean leaders thus remain a mortal danger to their people, to their neighbors, and to faraway regions in which terrorists and others are more than eager to buy and use the items of bellicosity that the cash-starved North Koreans want to sell.
The Cubans are owed an American apology because, by failing to overthrow Fidel and Raul Castro in the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961, President John F. Kennedy condemned the Cuban people to live for 50 years under the most repressive regime in all of Latin America.
Finally, President Obama should apologize to the Israelis for, so far, refusing to let them strike Iran. He may believe that Americans are willing to live with Iran's nuclear weapons. After all, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is not calling America an illegitimate "entity" and threatening to wipe us off the face of the earth. But the Israelis, many of whom are the sons and daughters of Holocaust victims, can never ignore such an existential threat.
Hitler and the Holocaust have taught the Israelis that if someone says he wants to kill you, you had better believe him and kill him first.