Beltway Confidential

Samantha Power's mea culpa doctrine

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Beltway Confidential,Philip Klein

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Mitt Romney was lambasted by fact checkers for attacking President Obama for going on an "apology tour" in his first year in office. Fact checkers concluded that even though Obama made a number of speeches overseas in which he criticized past U.S. actions and pledged a new beginning, it didn't amount to him apologizing. Later today, Obama is expected to appoint long-time adviser Samantha Power as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. In a 2003 article for the New Republic, Power literally recommended that a new leader apologize for past American actions, only she didn't call it an "apology tour," but rather, "a doctrine of the mea culpa." Here's Power: U.S. foreign policy has to be rethought. It needs not tweaking but overhauling. We need: a historical reckoning with crimes committed, sponsored, or permitted by the United States. This would entail restoring FOIA to its pre- Bush stature, opening the files, and acknowledging the force of a mantra we have spent the last decade promoting in Guatemala, South Africa, and Yugoslavia: A country has to look back before it can move forward. Instituting a doctrine of the mea culpa would enhance our credibility by showing that American decision-makers do not endorse the sins of their predecessors. This has a haunting similarity to Obama's foreign policy approach upon taking office, and now Obama is appointing Power as the nation's representative at the UN. Maybe the media owes Romney an apology.

PHILIP KLEIN Senior Editorial Writer

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