Mitt Romney has repeatedly criticized Obama for going on an, “apology tour” to apologize for America abroad. Both Glenn Kessler and Politifact have described Romney’s claim as a clear falsehood. But what bothers me even more about the claim is its implication that the United States hasn’t done anything immoral enough to justify an apology. There are a million examples I could use (slavery, the mistreatment of Native Americans, the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II, etc.) but I will focus on two little known examples of US misdeeds in the Middle East.
In 1951 a democratically elected parliament in Iran legislated that the profits from the production and sale of Iranian oil would go to the Iranian government rather than a British oil company. As a result, in 1953 the United States under the Eisenhower Administration participated in a coup with England to over through the democratically elected government in Iran to reinstate the shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. The shah ruled as a royal dictator who imprisoned, tortured, and executed political opponents until his over through in the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Unfortunately, his successors have continued the shah’s policy toward political dissent. The government of Iran has been adversarial to the US ever since the over through of the shah and the participation of the US in the 1953 Iranian coup has greatly contributed to anti-American sentiment in Iran. Obama mentioned the US role in the coup in his 2009 Cairo speech.
In 1980, shortly after the over through of the shah, the 8-year Iran-Iraq War began. The United States, under the Regan Administration, formed an alliance with Saddam Hussein. The US supplied Saddam’s government with weapons and economic support, as well as chemicals and biological specimens that could be used for military purposes. Saddam’s government was notorious for his massacre of the Kurds, the use of torture, and the execution of political prisoners. The US alliance with Iraq ended when Saddam invaded Kuwait in 1990. The US entered the war and prevented the Iraqi takeover of Kuwait. The US over threw Saddam in the 2003 invasion of Iraq that marked the beginning of the Iraq War.
The US has and continues to participate in immoral foreign policies. But this is not unique to America. Almost every country has some skeletons in its past, it is our ability to admit it that makes us a better country. Obama has done so; it is about time Romney does as well.