A hegemonic power never says sorry.
Three recent episodes underscore this truism.
When US President Barack Obama offered a floral wreath at the cenotaph of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park on 27 May 2016, some peace advocates in the United States, in Japan and in other parts of the world hoped against hope that he would say “sorry” for the Atom bomb that the then US President, Harry Truman, had ordered to be dropped over Hiroshima on the 6th of August 1945. The deadly bomb claimed 140,000 lives. Three days later a second Atom bomb destroyed the city of Nagasaki killing another 80,000.
There is a view advanced by a number of scholars and activists that based upon documentary analysis Japan had already indicated to the US Military Command in the Pacific a couple of months before 6th August that it was prepared to surrender if there were some safeguards for the position of the Japanese Emperor. But the US leadership wanted to demonstrate to the world — and particularly to the Soviet Union — its military superiority which it was determined to exploit to the hilt in the post- war world that it hoped to shape and lead.
Of course, the vast majority of the US populace fed on State propaganda over decades is convinced to this day that it was the bombing that brought the war to a close. Since it was a military decision that was justified, in their reckoning, there is no need to apologise for the mass murder. Obama’s refusal to say sorry was in that sense a reflection of the public mood and mentality.
But more than an apology, it is Obama’s failure to work sincerely towards a nuclear weapons free world that is the most damning indictment on the man and his administration. A few months after he became President, in a stirring speech in Prague in April 2009, he pledged to strive to achieve a world without nuclear weapons. Not only has he been slower than his three predecessors in “reducing nuclear weapons but he has initiated a trillion dollar effort to upgrade America’s entire nuclear arsenal and delivery systems.” It is this that renders his remarks at Hiroshima where he again spoke about the obligation of leaders to pursue a world without nuclear weapons, hollow and hypocritical.
Just before his trip to Japan, Obama also visited Vietnam a country that the US had attacked brutally in the sixties and seventies allegedly in order to stop the advance of communism. What the US fought against was essentially a nationalist movement which had defeated its French coloniser and was in no mood to yield to another imperial power. As a result of Vietnamese resistance to the US ground and air war, more than 3 million Vietnamese and a million Cambodians and Laotians were killed.
Like Presidents Bill Clinton and George Bush Junior who had also visited Vietnam earlier, Obama saw no reason to apologise to the Vietnamese people. How could a hegemonic power that was vanquished by a technologically weaker foe apologise for the incredible atrocities committed in the course of the war? The hubris of a hegemon would not allow for such a humiliation.
Besides, the Vietnamese government itself did not seek an apology partly because it was engrossed in rebuilding the country after two devastating wars. It was its goal of economic reconstruction that compelled Hanoi to turn to the market system especially since China, its ally during its resistance against the US, had also in 1978 chosen to adopt certain capitalist measures in its bid to transform its economy.
There is yet another aspect to Vietnam’s relationship with China which explains to an extent why an apology from the US is not on its agenda. Vietnam and China have clashed in the past. They fought a brief war in 1979. Chinese dynasties had exercised a degree of control over Vietnam centuries ago. Fear of Chinese dominance is one of the reasons why Hanoi has assiduously cultivated good relations with Washington for more than three decades now.
Initially these ties were largely economic culminating in Vietnam’s membership of the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Now a military dimension is beginning to emerge. US military vessels have begun to visit Cam Ranh Bay. And, during Obama’s recent trip he lifted the ban on US arms sales to Vietnam. It is obvious that the US regards Vietnam as an important player in its bigger agenda of containing China. Given this situation, there is no way that any Vietnamese leader is going to demand that the US apologises for the pain and suffering it caused his people in the past.
Vietnam would be a classic case of how geopolitics and economics have trumped moral principles in bilateral relations.
This brings us to our third episode. On 1st July 2015 Obama announced the restoration of formal diplomatic relations with Cuba, after a break of 54 years. However, the US will continue to maintain its commercial, economic and financial embargo of Cuba which makes it illegal for US corporations to do business with the island of 11 million people off the US coast.
The US had cut off ties with Cuba in 1961 mainly because it chose, after a popular revolution in 1959, to chart its own independent path to the future guided by Marxist Thought. In the decades that followed, US administrations went all out to crush the Cuban Revolution. Apart from a severe embargo, they sponsored a failed invasion, terrorist attacks on hotels in Havana, the downing of a Cuban airplane and countless attempts to assassinate the leader of the Revolution, Fidel Castro.
It is perhaps not surprising that when diplomatic relations were re-established, the US leadership was not contrite about the terrible injustices of the past. One has come to expect this sort of behaviour from the military superpower of the day. It is the embodiment of the arrogance of power.
Cuba has not pressed for an apology. Its immediate concern is to get the embargo lifted and to persuade the US to return Guantanamo Bay where the US has a naval base, to Cuba.
From our three episodes, it appears that various factors are responsible for the unwillingness of the US leadership to say sorry to a nation or a people for past wrongdoings. Hubris arising from its hegemonic power is undoubtedly a significant factor. This is why hegemonic power at the global level has to end if that five letter word is to come out of the lips of the hegemon.
Originally published on 2016-06-20
About the author: Dr. Chandra Muzaffar is the President of the International Movement for a Just World (JUST).
Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection, Public Domain & Pinterest.
Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!
Donate to Support Us
We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.
The world has just honored yet another Armistice Day – Remembrance Day – Veterans Day for all those who lost their lives in armed defense of their nation’s right to exist and remain a free people. Nation’s like the United States, Canada and Israel pay constant tribute to those key battles and wars that once determined their continued existence and survival. But what of nation’s like Palestine reduced to mere fragments of what they once were, their once prosperous, happy villages, towns and cities filled with happy children, families and the commerce of a viable way of life, now turned ...
The current Ukrainian crisis and in fact civil war which stared at the very end of 2013 are grounded in for decades lasting internal interethnic antagonisms primarily on the Ukrainian-Russian relations including above all the “Crimean Question” as an apple of discord from 1954 between Ukraine and Russia. The crisis came from Lithuania’s capital Vilnius were in November 2013 an Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine had to be signed. Lithuania at that time (July 1st−December 31st, 2013) presided the European (Union) Council and formally had a full political responsibility for the breaking out of the crisis as being ...
Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is calling for an “impartial investigation” into grisly reports by a European investigative commission alleging that Kosovo government officials were involved in the trade of human organs.In an exhaustive report released by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) in December, it was alleged that Serbian detainees of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) were kidnapped and murdered by Kosovo Albanians so their organs could be sold on the black market.The report says the crimes occurred after the Kosovo War ended in 1999.These shocking allegations came on the heels of a two-year investigation into a ...
The new Serbian Warsaw Ghetto in the occupied Serbian land of Kosovo
In Kosovo, in 1999, NATO orchestrated KLA terrorism to cause a cycle of attacks and repression which was used to justify military intervention under the pretext of protecting the civilian population. Thirteen years down the line, Kosovo has unilaterally declared its independence and inflicts the most outrageous discrimination on its Serb population … under the auspices of NATO.
Serbs may not have black skin, but they are being treated like white niggers of Europe. Every day. In the media. On the streets in Kosovo. The pogrom and ...
Quietly, without most people noticing, the European Commission is moving ahead with a strategy that will arguably make the EU into the first fully operational model of a centralised ‘one state’ supranational authority: ‘A New World Order’; the long standing neoconservative ambition which lies at the heart of global secret society agendas and US geopolitical hegemony.The key ingredient of this strategy is the establishment of an ‘EU Treasury’ which, according to Donald Tusk, President of the EU Council, will come into effect in June 2018, under the official title: European Monetary Fund. This will result in the single point control ...
History has repeatedly demonstrated the need to view with the greatest skepticism U.S. imperialism’s justifications for its endless wars and interventions.
Need we mention the 1964 U.S.-manufactured Tonkin Bay incident, wherein a virtually non-existent Vietnamese navy was accused of attacking a U.S. destroyer? That false flag pretext was employed to launch the Vietnam War, during which four million Vietnamese were slaughtered in a 10-year U.S. conflagration verging on genocide. Or the more recent Iraq “weapons of mass destruction” lie that resulted in the U.S. murder of 1.5 million Iraqis?
Even if the latest sarin gas accusations against Syrian President Bashar Assad should ...
Global hedge fund tycoon and political provocateur George Soros is leading a war of symbols, namely flags and banners either resurrected or conjured up by his myriad non-profit groups, to stir religious, racial, and ethnic tensions the world over. From the Serbian OTPOR! movement and its clenched-fist symbol adopted by protests groups around the world to the menacing black and white flag of the Islamic State, which first appeared during the Soros-backed «Arab Spring» rebellions, Soros’s «false flag» factories have been running at break-neck production speeds.
Soros and his acolytes saw the importance of symbology in the writings of Gene Sharp ...
“Workers of my country, I have faith in Chile and its destiny.
Other men will overcome this dark and bitter moment when treason seeks to prevail.
Keep in mind that, much sooner than later, the great avenues will again be opened through which will pass free men to construct a better society.
Long live Chile!
Long live the people! Long live the workers!” President Salvador Allende’s farewell speech, 11 September 1973.
“It’s hard to find someone with the fighting spirit, courage and the story of Allende. He was a man who actually had the branded name in history: democratically the left came ...
May 19, 1919 has different and even opposing meanings in Turkey and Greece, just as May 15, 1948, marks both the establishment of Israel and, for Palestinians, the start of the Nakba (“catastrophe”).In Turkey, this date marks the first step that led to the establishment of the Turkish Republic, while for descendants of Ottoman Greeks and Greece it marks the end of the centuries-long Pontic Greek presence on the shores of the Black Sea. Whereas Turks celebrate May 19, Greeks mourn it. Researcher Tamer Çilingir summarised the issue in a 2016 interview with the Turkish-Armenian daily Agos:“The Pontic Genocide is the ...
Despite having the biggest military budget in the world, five times larger than the next six countries, the largest number of military bases – over 180 – in the world and the most expensive military industrial complex, the US has failed to win a single war in the 21st century.
In this paper we will enumerate the wars and proceed to analyze why, despite the powerful material basis for wars, it has led to failures.
The Lost Wars
The US has been engaged in multiple wars and coups since the beginning of the 21st century. These include Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Palestine, Venezuela and ...
Over the past 50 years the US and European powers have engaged in countless imperial wars throughout the world. The drive for world supremacy has been clothed in the rhetoric of “world leadership”, the consequences have been devastating for the peoples targeted. The biggest, longest and most numerous wars have been carried out by the United States. Presidents from both parties direct and preside over this quest for world power. The ideology which informs imperialism varies from “anti-communism”in the past to “anti-terrorism”today.
Washington’s drive for world domination has used and combined many forms of warfare, including military invasions and occupations; proxy ...
September 17, 2015 “Information Clearing House” – Over recent months the situation in the Mediterranean has served as a dramatic reminder of what the leaders of Europe have tried hard to forget. The Syrian crisis has reached Europe. Although a lot of talk has been made over numbers and percentages of refugees that every country may or may not accept, let’s not forget that behind those numbers and the showy emotionalism of the politicians hides the ugly side of world politics.
The plans to overthrow the “annoying” regimes in the Middle East began at the time when the war hawks of ...
“If you have nukes, never give them up–If you don’t have them, get them”Dan Coats, Director of National IntelligenceThose were the words of President Trump’s Director of National Intelligence, about the lessons taught from the U.S. destruction of Libya and the assassination of Muammar Gaddafi.That is why North Korea is a nuclear power. That is the reality and eventually the U.S. will have to accept “Mutually Assured Madness“. The U.S. has nobody to blame for its self-inflected wounds. It is called Blowback.The propaganda mill and the mainstream media greatly exaggerate the US national security risk to the American people, and ...
Yet another scandal is exploding on the Internet. The administration of free encyclopedia Wikipedia removed an article by a Russian researcher, devoted to assessing the loss of US citizens as a result of the Great Depression of 1932-33. Outraged bloggers began mass distribution of articles in the Russian segment of the popular blogging service Live journal. The material led to heated debates, while the so-called historical flash mob continues.
Russian researcher Boris Borisov touched a really hot topic in his material on the estimated number of victims of the American Great Depression, which in turn, apparently caused a very strong reaction ...
In the spirit of the New Cold War and following on its success in snuffing out South Stream, the US has prioritized its efforts in obstructing Russia’s Balkan Stream pipeline, and for the most part, they’ve regretfully succeeded for the time being. The first challenge came from the May 2015 Color Revolution attempt in Macedonia, which thankfully was repulsed by the country’s patriotic citizenry. Next up on the destabilization agenda was the political turmoil that threatened to take hold of Greece in the run-up and aftermath of the austerity referendum, the idea being that if Tsipras were deposed, then Balkan ...
On April 7, two U.S. Navy battle ships USS Porter (DDG-78) and USS Ross launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles at al-Shayrat military airfield in Syria’s Homs province from the Eastern Mediterranean. The U.S. strikes particularly targeted the main landing strip, aircraft, radio locators, air defense system and fuel stations.
The strike was approved by U.S. President Donald Trump, who said that the Syrian Air Force used affiliated al-Shayrat air base to prepare chemical attack on the city of Khan Shaykhun in Idlib. “It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and ...
A NATO defense ministers meeting that took place in Brussels on November, 8-9 resulted in the new and very important decisions for the future of Europe.Speaking at a meeting, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said it is vital that European roads, ports, bridges and rail networks are able to carry tanks and heavy military equipment. Stoltenberg also added that NATO countries have agreed to cooperate to improve civil infrastructure objects to make them usable for military needs. What does it mean in practice for Europe in general and for the Baltic States in particular?Lithuanian authorities, for example, will for sure try ...
French president Macron’s call for the creation of a “European Army” and the implicit end of NATO alliance reflects the changing global order, the credit for which must, in the first place, go to the US president Trump, who, through his series of actions, has unwittingly done enough damage to the alliance to force the EU to wean away from the so-called western alliance and project itself as an independent player in the international arena. On the one hand, the concept of a “European army” affirms the growing distance between the US and its allies in Europe, and on the ...
This Remembrance Day will doubtless see strenuous efforts by some to justify the fruitless bloodbath that was the First World War. Revisionist commentators have long attempted to rehabilitate the conflict as necessary and just, but the arguments do not stand up. It does no service to the memory of the dead to allow any illusions in the justice or necessity of war, particularly so when the precedents will be used to argue for the next ‘necessary’ conflict. From the causes of the war, to its prosecution and its results, here are the counter-arguments to ten common pro-war ploys.1. The war ...
On March 23rd, Gallup headlined “South Sudan, Haiti and Ukraine Lead World in Suffering”, and the Ukrainian part of that can unquestionably be laid at the feet of U.S. President Barack Obama, who in February 2014 imposed upon Ukraine a very bloody coup (see it here), which he and his press misrepresented (and still misrepresent) as being (and still represent as having been) a ‘democratic revolution’, but was nothing of the sort, and actually was instead the start of the Ukrainian dictatorship and the hell that has since destroyed that country, and brought the people there into such misery, it’s now by far ...
Armistice Day & Remembrance Day
The 2014 Coup d’État and the Ukrainian Crisis
Russia Calls for Investigation into Human-Organ Trade Ring in Kosovo
Kosovo Serbs are White Niggers of Europe
A Totalitarian Europe Now on Our Doorstep
Donald Trumpenstein: Self-Proclaimed “Cop of the World”
George Soros’s False Flag Factories
Chile, September 11, 1973
100th Anniversary of the Pontic Genocide
The US: The Century of Lost Wars
Fifty Years of Imperial Wars: Global Neoliberalism and America’s Drive for World Domination
The Dirty Role of the West in Syria
Holodomor in the United States
A Hybrid War to Break the Balkans?
Chemical Attack in Idlib – Duplication of Scenario in Eastern Ghouta
Lithuania goes to War with Russia
On the Geo-politics of “European Army”
Ten Lies Told About World War I
What America’s Coup in Ukraine Did