Obama, Carter, Iran and the endless apology

Wednesday, 13 January, 2016

“As we speak, Iran has rolled back its nuclear program, shipped out its uranium stockpile, and the world has avoided another war.” So declared President Obama last night in his 2016 State of the Union Address. Hot on the heels of that bold statement came the news that Iran had detained two US navy boats for “violating” Gulf waters. The BBC reported (gleefully?): “US apologises for Iran naval incursion — Revolutionary Guards.” Back in November, Reuters headlined a story thus: “Rouhani says U.S.-Iran ties could be restored but U.S. must apologize.”

Since the days of Jimmy Carter, the Washington-Tehran relationship seems to trapped in the aspic of permanent disunion, with one side claiming constant improvement and the other wallowing in abiding victimization. As Gaddis Smith put it: “President Carter inherited an impossible situation — and he and his advisers made the worst of it.” And it’s not much better today. With that in mind, the next occupant of the White House might consider reading some P.G. Wodehouse: “It is a good rule in life never to apologize. The right sort of people do not want apologies, and the wrong sort take a mean advantage of them.” The Man Upstairs and Other Stories.

Comments (2)

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  1. KevinH says:


    Do you think the US should have apologized for shooting down the Iranian civilian plane?


    • In 1996, the United States and Iran reached a settlement at the International Court of Justice regarding Iran Air Flight 655. This agreement contained the statement: “The United States recognized the aerial incident of 3 July 1988 as a terrible human tragedy and expressed deep regret over the loss of lives caused by the incident.” The United States agreed to pay $61.8 million, amounting to $213,000 per passenger, in compensation to the families of the victims.