(CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama, long criticized for what opponents consider apologies for the United States to other countries, asserted to a gathering of veterans Monday that “we will never apologize.”
“Just as you protected America, we’re going to pass our country to the next generation, stronger and safer and more respected in the world,” Obama said at the 113th annual convention of the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Reno, Nevada
“So if anyone tries to tell you that our greatness has passed, that America is in decline, you tell them this: Just like the 20th century, the 21st is going to be another great American Century,” Obama said. “For we are Americans, blessed with the greatest form of government ever devised by man, a democracy dedicated to freedom and committed to the ideals that still light the world. We will never apologize for our way of life; we will never waver in its defense.”
The president continued, “We are a nation that freed millions and turned adversaries into allies. We are the Americans who defended the peace and turned back aggression. We are Americans who welcome our global responsibilities and our global leadership. The United States has been, and will remain, the one indispensable nation in world affairs.”
Obama said earlier in the VFW speech that America is more respected now than before.
“Thanks to the extraordinary service of our men and women in uniform, we’re winding down a decade of war; we’re destroying the terrorist network that attacked us; we’re strengthening the alliances that extend our values,” Obama said. “And today, every American can be proud that the United States is safer and stronger and more respected in the world.”
The top apology on the list was Obama’s statement in Strasburg, France on April 3, 2009 that “America has shown arrogance.”
“In recent years we've allowed our Alliance to drift. I know that there have been honest disagreements over policy, but we also know that there's something more that has crept into our relationship,” Obama said in France. “In America, there's a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.”
Also in that speech in France, the president criticized the Guantanamo Bay prison, though he still has not shut the prison down.
“Our moral authority is derived from the fact that generations of our citizens have fought and bled to uphold these values in our nations and others. And that's why we can never sacrifice them for expedience's sake,” Obama said. “That's why I've ordered the closing of the detention center in Guantanamo Bay. That's why I can stand here today and say without equivocation or exception that the United States of America does not and will not torture.
“In dealing with terrorism, we can't lose sight of our values and who we are,” Obama continued. “That's why I closed Guantanamo. That's why I made very clear that we will not engage in certain interrogation practices. I don't believe that there is a contradiction between our security and our values, and when you start sacrificing your values, when you lose yourself, then over the long term that will make you less secure.”
During an interview with the Arab media Al Arabiya on Jan. 27, 2009, Obama said, “My job to the Muslim world is to communicate that the Americans are not your enemy. We sometimes make mistakes. We have not been perfect. But if you look at the track record, as you say, America was not born as a colonial power, and that the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago, there's no reason why we can't restore that.”
The Heritage analysis also cited Obama’s April 17, 2009 remarks to the Summit of the Americas as an apology.
“While the United States has done much to promote peace and prosperity in the hemisphere, we have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms,” Obama said. “But I pledge to you that we seek an equal partnership. There is no senior partner and junior partner in our relations; there is simply engagement based on mutual respect and common interests and shared values. So I'm here to launch a new chapter of engagement that will be sustained throughout my administration.”
On April 2, 2009, at a G-20 Summitt in London, during a news conference, Obama said, “I would like to think that with my election and the early decisions that we've made, that you're starting to see some restoration of America's standing in the world. And although, as you know, I always mistrust polls, international polls seem to indicate that you're seeing people more hopeful about America's leadership. I just think in a world that is as complex as it is, that it is very important for us to be able to forge partnerships as opposed to simply dictating solutions.”
He also said of the war on terror, “We Went off Course,” when speaking at the National Archives on May 21, 2009.
“Unfortunately, faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions. I believe that many of these decisions were motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people but I also believe that all too often our government made decisions based on fear rather than foresight; that all too often our government trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions,” Obama said. “Instead of strategically applying our power and our principles, too often we set those principles aside as luxuries that we could no longer afford, and during this season of fear, too many of us--Democrats and Republicans, politicians, journalists, and citizens--- fell silent. In other words, we went off course. And this is not my assessment alone. It was an assessment that was shared by the American people who nominated candidates for President from both major parties who, despite our many differences, called for a new approach--one that rejected torture and one that recognized the imperative of closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay.”
Speaking before the Turkish Parliament on April 6, 2009, Obama said, “Another issue that confronts all democracies as they move to the future is how we deal with the past. The United States is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history. Facing the Washington Monument that I spoke of is a memorial of Abraham Lincoln, the man who freed those who were enslaved even after Washington led our Revolution. Our country still struggles with the legacies of slavery and segregation, the past treatment of Native Americans.”
Speaking to Central Intelligence Agency employees on April 20, 2009 at CIA headquarters in Langley, Va., Obama said, “Don't be discouraged that we have to acknowledge potentially we've made some mistakes. That's how we learn. But the fact that we are willing to acknowledge them and then move forward, that is precisely why I am proud to be President of the United States, and that's why you should be proud to be members of the CIA.”
In a separate March 2, 2010 analysis, the fact check website PolitiFact said assertions by Obama critics -- including the Heritage Foundation and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney – that the president had apologized for America were “false.”