As I’m sure you’ve all determined by now, I’m a bit odd. And that was true in my childhood as well.
I was probably the only freshman in high school who would stop off and buy copies of the New York Daily News and New York Times every morning. (Daily News for the sports and local news, NYT for the national and international news.) And Dan Rather’s broadcast was appointment viewing for me every night.
Growing up I was, while not consumed, very mindful of the struggles of black South Africans to secure freedom from apartheid. For most of the 1980s, their struggles dominated the evening news and newspapers. I remember curling my lip in disgust when the Reagan administration pursued “quiet diplomacy” with the racist regime. That told me all I needed to know about Reagan, as if I didn’t know enough already.
Growing up, Nelson Mandela was a mythic figure, the Once and Future King, kept on the isle of Avalon (Robben), awaiting to return to a nation in desperate need of him. And it finally happened in 1990.
The previous President, after the attacks of 9/11, engineered a war with a state which, though abysmal to its own people, had had no direct or indirect link with any terror attack on the United States. It was, if anything, a mortal enemy of the group which carried out the attacks, as that group saw the ruling regime as corrupt and un-Islamic. As the history of that war is being written, the regime sought to stave off war, willing to give the previous President anything he wanted, save for the regime’s destruction. Of course, the regime as it existed stood in the way of the grand plan to remake the Middle East; its destruction, not its containment, was the goal. Anything short of political—and literal—suicide would not suit the ultimate purpose. So the country and the world were lied into a war, which cost nearly 5,000 American lives, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi deaths; a war which was supposed to last a few weeks and pay for itself instead dragged on for nearly a decade, costing over $1 trillion. And the Middle East, far from being remade into a collection of benevolent American satrapies, teetered on the edge of all-out war for the eight years of the George W. Bush administration.
That President, however, was never asked to apologize for the disaster he had wrought. And if ever he had been asked to apologize in a face-to-face interview, he never offered one: no apology for the countless dead, for the treasure wasted, for the lives destroyed. It’s just not the done thing.