Obama to Pakistan: I’ve got your ‘sorry’ right here

OK, so it wasn’t that dismissive.

Still, it’s interesting that the administration — which apologized for killing that other American (Samir Khan, from North Carolina) who was with Anwar al-Awlaki — doesn’t want to say “sorry” on this one:

WASHINGTON — The White House has decided that President Obama will not offer formal condolences — at least for now — toPakistan for the deaths of two dozen soldiers in NATO airstrikes last week, overruling State Department officials who argued for such a show of remorse to help salvage America’s relationship with Pakistan, administration officials said.

On Monday, Cameron Munter, the United States ambassador to Pakistan, told a group of White House officials that a formal video statement from Mr. Obama was needed to help prevent the rapidly deteriorating relations between Islamabad and Washington from cratering, administration officials said. The ambassador, speaking by videoconference from Islamabad, said that anger in Pakistan had reached a fever pitch, and that the United States needed to move to defuse it as quickly as possible, the officials recounted.

Defense Department officials balked. While they did not deny some American culpability in the episode, they said expressions of remorse offered by senior department officials and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton were enough, at least until the completion of a United States military investigation establishing what went wrong…

Increasingly, we see signs of the U.S. just writing off Pakistan. This appears to be another such sign.

Or, you could go with this explanation, I suppose:

Some administration aides also worried that if Mr. Obama were to overrule the military and apologize to Pakistan, such a step could become fodder for his Republican opponents in the presidential campaign, according to several officials who declined to be named because they were not authorized to speak publicly…

25 thoughts on “Obama to Pakistan: I’ve got your ‘sorry’ right here

  1. Doug Ross

    If you don’t think every decision made by the White House these days is vetted against what the impact will mean in 2012, you are living in Fantasyland. Obama is already ramping up the partisan rhetoric.

    They know it’s going to be a tough race regardless of whom the opponent is and they cannot afford to lose a single vote.

    There’s only one candidate who would do what his basic principles told him to do: Ron Paul. But then we wouldn’t be dealing with killing Pakistanis by accident in a Paul administration. We wouldn’t be killing anyone unless directly threatened and authorized by Congress (you know, like that old rag the Constitution “suggests”)

  2. Phillip

    I really hope that last explanation is not true. Obama won’t have Republican “opponents” in 2012: he’ll have only one, and likely not the most deranged of the “Club der Lügner, Demagogen, Ignoranten” as Germany’s newsmagazine Der Spiegel recently and so colorfully characterized the GOP field. Things would be truly bleak were Obama to tweak foreign policy decisions to accommodate the views of the long-shot radical outliers like Bachmann, Santorum, or Gingrich.

    The NYT article is pretty clear that Hillary Clinton and Leon Panetta have already expressed condolences, so it’s not like the US ignored the whole thing. My guess is that Obama knows enough about the particulars of this situation, or more generally about the double-dealings going on from the Pakistani side, that he feels the level of remorse already expressed was just right.

  3. bud

    Doug makes a good point. Obama has been a big disappointment in the foreign affairs arena. If only Ron Paul had sensible domestic policies I’d give him a good look.

  4. Steven Davis

    The first order of business in your first term as President is to begin the campaign to serve a second term, which is where you set your primary plans in action, because the only way out is impeachment or death.

  5. Brad

    And of course, I’m the opposite. I haven’t always agreed with Obama on national security, but I respect the fact that he takes his responsibilities as commander in chief seriously, and has had some remarkable accomplishments.

    Whereas I tend to see the Republican field as people who think WAY too much about their economic ideology, and way too little about the most critical responsibilities of the POTUS. The GOP has no McCains running this time. Or Reagans, or Nixons, or G.H.W. Bushes…

    And CERTAINLY no Eisenhowers…

  6. bud

    Wow, Brad gives kudos to Ike. Eisenhower did a remarkable job keeping us out of war after quickly ending our involvment in Korea. He could have gotten sucked in to Vietnam but resisted. He warned us about the military industrial complex. He spoke of the need to serve humanity rather than build endless amounts of weaponry. My opinion of Dwight Eisenhower has gone up in recent years. He really was a pretty darn good POTUS.

  7. Brad

    There’s no doubt that Ron Paul would not commit troops except in the narrowest of circumstances (and far too narrow for the nation’s, or the world’s, good).

    But I have to disagree when Doug says, “But then we wouldn’t be dealing with killing Pakistanis by accident in a Paul administration.”

    This assertion raises a lot of questions. For instance, are you saying Ron Paul wouldn’t have gone after bin Laden? (And if he would NOT have, is that a good thing?) Because that would be the only way to make SURE we didn’t accidentally kill Pakistani bystanders. (We followed the most careful, targeted approach — and the riskiest to our troops, but the best — but lots of things can go wrong on such an operation.)

    You still wouldn’t be able to say no one would be killed accidentally.

    But let’s be less specific, less real-world. Let’s say Ron Paul wouldn’t commit U.S. troops unless the Mexicans dug up Santa Ana and we saw a REAL Mexican invasion of this country. Let’s say that. We wouldn’t be able to avoid accidental deaths completely.

    I haven’t run the numbers, but I suspect that the number of friendly fire deaths in WWII exceeded the whole number of U.S. KIA in Iraq, easily. There were single incidents that killed hundreds of our guys. As for civilian deaths, well, it hardly bears thinking about. Dresden, Nagasaki, all sorts of places where the slaughter was less historic but still horrific.

    In war, it’s unavoidable, however much we strive these days, in good faith and with the utmost earnestness, to avoid it.

  8. `Kathryn Fenner

    Hast du wirklich ein Glas Bier, oder moechtest du ein Glas Bier?

    Man sagt, “Ich moechte ein Glas Bier,” einem Glas Bier zu bestellen.

  9. Phillip

    Sorry, didn’t mean to start a German-fest…I saw the link to the Spiegel article on Andrew Sullivan’s site first and out of curiosity followed it to the original. I only know a tiny tiny bit of German, had to look up “Lügner,” but you don’t have to know German to figure out “Demagogen, Ignoraten.”

    I also have to differ from Bud’s description of Obama’s foreign policy as a “big disappointment.” Some things concern me but I feel he has overall very successfully “threaded a very fine needle” on a variety of enormous challenges. And Doug, I disagree that Paul would be the only candidate who “would do what his basic principles told him to” in foreign policy. Gingrich, for example, would undoubtedly follow his own “basic principles” too. That’s what scares me.


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