By Dan Gilgoff, God & Country
Mitt Romney spoke for many Republicans in telling me this week that he hoped President Obama wouldn't make any apologies for America. I looked at Obama's two big previous overtures to the Muslim world—his January interview with al Arabiya and his April trip to Turkey—and couldn't find any apologies in his remarks.
Obama did, however, speak to the nation's mistakes. "We sometimes make mistakes," Obama told al Arabiya. "We have not been perfect."
In Turkey, Obama told a group of students: "America, like every other nation, has made mistakes and has its flaws."
In Cairo, by contrast, Obama avoided saying the word mistakes. But he was much more specific in talking about what George W. Bush-era policies he thinks actually constituted mistakes—the Iraq war and the U.S. treatment of enemy combatants—than he had been in the al Arabiya interview or while in Turkey.
Check out these two passages:
Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world. Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible . . . .
[J]ust as America can never tolerate violence by extremists, we must never alter our principles. 9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country. The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our ideals. We are taking concrete actions to change course. I have unequivocally prohibited the use of torture by the United States, and I have ordered the prison at Guantánamo Bay closed by early next year.
He never explicitly refers to mistakes. And he certainly doesn't apologize for them. But they're clearly regrets. Are they implicit apologies?