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Forgive Us Father, For We Have Sinned
by Robert R. Eberle, Ph.D
9 May 2004

Despite the fact that Middle East experts, time and time again, have gone on radio and television programs and explained that citizens of the Arab states, and especially individuals of radical, Islamic terrorist groups, see these apologies as signs of weakness, the media elite continue to demand apologies whenever situations go awry.

This past week was the week of apologies. Since the pictures were first aired showing abuse of prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, Arab nations have been expressing outrage, and those in the media have been clamoring for anyone in the Bush administration to wear sack cloth and beg forgiveness. Despite the fact that Middle East experts, time and time again, have gone on radio and television programs and explained that citizens of the Arab states, and especially individuals of radical, Islamic terrorist groups, see these apologies as signs of weakness, the media elite continue to demand apologies whenever situations go awry. These apologies do little to ease feelings in the Middle East and lead to anger back home, especially when the words "I'm sorry" seem drawn out by a forced hand.

During the May 5 press briefing at the White House, reporters hammered press secretary Scott McClellan about the prisoner abuse story. One reporter even asked how President Bush felt about having to make the "moral distinction" between the United States and Saddam Hussein. That's right -- according to some on the left, apparently abuse of some of the prisoners at a prison in Iraq is the equivalent of decades of abuse, torture, rape, mutilation, and murder that Iraqis endured under the sadistic regime of Saddam Hussein. Because of the "similarities" between these offenses, American leaders must now beg forgiveness from the Arab world so that our "image" may be restored.

During Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week, Democratic Sen. Jack Reed said that the image of America in the Arab world will be one of an American dragging an Iraqi prisoner by a leash. "This is a disaster," Reed said.

My question to Sen. Reed is this: What do you think the image of
America in the Arab world was before this? Uncle Sam eating apple pie? The fact of that matter is that to a large extent, America is hated in the Arab world. For a large part, this is due to our support of Israel. In addition, among the radical Islamic factions, the very way of life of America leads to hatred and resentment. We could have given every Iraqi prisoner a gold-plated cell, and we'd still be hated.

The fact of the matter is that war is hell, and in that hell, mistakes
will be made. Yes, there will likely be mistakes made for which America is sorry, and if apologies are given, they should be given freely by those in leadership as the hearts of those individuals are guided to do so or not.

This past week, I received countless e-mails from readers expressing outrage, dismay, and disappointment at the apologies issued by Sec. Rumsfeld and President Bush about the abuse of prisoners in Iraq. Why the sense of anger? Are these people simply cold-hearted conservatives? Quite the contrary. In fact, from reading the daily feedback, it is obvious to see that these people care deeply about America and are passionate about defending America in the war on terror. In actuality, their disappointment is two-fold. In one sense, they are enraged that liberals and media elite are clamoring for an apology from President Bush when no one has apologized for the killing of 3,000 Americans on September 11, 2001. When the Middle East expresses "shock" at the treatment of prisoners, their complaints ring hollow when compared to the silence coming from the region following the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

Second, the apologies conveyed by Bush and Rumsfeld anger those on the right because they feel the apologies were forced -- that the left "made them do it." They do not feel that Bush or Rumsfeld should have apologized. To a certain extent, the conservative community is right. By reacting to pressure, the apologies came across as politically motivated. Worse, by first making public statements, and then issuing apologies later, undue emphasis is placed upon the apologies, and they take on the weight of being apologies for America rather than heartfelt, personal reflections.

To differ slightly with the feedback I've been receiving, had I been
president of the United States, I too would have apologized. The
difference is that my apology would have come during my first public statements about the incident. Prisoners were abused in Iraq. Does that reflect American values? Of course it doesn't. Am I sorry that it occurred? Of course I am. And that's what I would have said.

"The pictures of abuse of Iraqi prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison are abhorrent and do not reflect the traditions of America's men and women in uniform, and most certainly do not reflect the values and ideals that all Americans hold dear. I personally am truly sorry these abuses occurred, and the American people can take as fact that I will do everything in my power to see that justice is done."

But, I would not stop there, because to do that leaves a wound exposed for enemies to exploit. "Americans are not perfect. Yet, each day men and women of this great country strive for something better -- something better in themselves, and something better out of others. The American spirit prods us to be the best we can be. Sometimes we fall short, but let the world know that even during times of tribulation, American democracy allows us to solve our problems by respecting individual rights and giving everyone their day in court."

"Let the world also know that we are at war. The hatred in the hearts of terrorists will not subside regardless of what we say. From the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, to the embassy bombing in 1998, to the attack on the U.S.S Cole in 2000, to the horrors of September 11, these terrorists have shown that they do not respect the spoken word but only the drawn sword. They will continue their acts until freedom-loving countries either relent or join together for the sake of future generations. America will never relent. America will fight, and America will win the war on terror."

I believe that America is blessed by God for greatness in society. If
America owes anyone an apology, it is to Him for falling short of what we can do. To those still clamoring for more apologies, I'll send mine when bin Laden sends his.

Bobby Eberle is President and CEO of GOPUSA.com.

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