Obama: dark Trump vision ‘doesn’t really jibe’ with facts

Obama: dark Trump vision ‘doesn’t really jibe’ with facts


By Ayesha Rascoe and Roberta Rampton

The dark vision of America under siege described by Donald Trump in his acceptance speech for the Republican presidential nomination does not mesh with reality, U.S. President Barack Obama said on Friday.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The dark vision of America under siege described by Donald Trump in his acceptance speech for the Republican presidential nomination does not mesh with reality, U.S. President Barack Obama said on Friday.

Obama noted that the “birds were chirping and the sun was out” for most Americans after Trump’s Thursday night speech, which expounded on the threats to America from illegal immigrants, Islamic State militants, and race-related violence.

“This idea that America is somehow on the verge of collapse, this vision of violence and chaos everywhere, doesn’t really jibe with the experience of most people,” Obama said at a White House news conference after meeting with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

Obama said the violent crime rate in America has been lower during his 7-1/2 years in office than any time during the last three or four decades, despite an “uptick” in murders in some cities this year, and the recent high-profile killings of black men and police officers.

The timing of Obama’s quickly arranged short meeting with Pena Nieto presented both leaders with a convenient platform from which to criticize Trump.

Just three weeks ago, Obama – who has six months left in the White House – invited the Mexican president to visit one last time before the U.S. president leaves on Jan. 20.

Trump has pledged to build a wall at the Mexico border to keep out illegal immigrants and drugs, and to force Mexico to pay for it.

The New York businessman has also promised to slap tariffs on some U.S. products made in Mexico, and seek radical changes or even discard the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) between the United States, Mexico and Canada.

Pena Nieto was first to mention Trump, but said he respected both Trump and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and would work with constructively and in good faith with whoever wins the Nov. 8 election.

In March, Pena Nieto likened Trump’s “strident tone” to the ascent of dictators Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini. But he said on Friday that he had never pointed the finger at any of the candidates, saying that anything he had said had been taken out of context.

And he stressed that the two nations’ futures were closely bound.

“The closeness between the United States and Mexico is more than a relationship between governments. It’s a solid and unbreakable relationship between millions of people who live in both nations,” Pena Nieto said.

Obama said the rate of illegal immigration is down from past decades, and praised Mexico for helping to address a flood of migrants fleeing Central America and for work on drug trafficking.

“A Mexico that has a healthy economy, a Mexico that can help us build stability and security in Central America, that’s going to do a lot more to solve any migration crisis or drug trafficking problem than a wall,” Obama said.

Obama and Pena Nieto praised the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal as addressing some of the criticisms of NAFTA. Both Trump and Clinton have said they oppose the TPP, which has yet to be ratified by the U.S. Congress.

“There are going to be different visions about where we should go as a country,” Obama said, running down a list of economic issues facing the nation.

“But we’re not going to make good decisions based on fears that don’t have a basis in fact,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Doina Chiacu, David Alexander and Eric Walsh in Washington, and Dave Graham, Ana Isabel Martinez, Adriana Barrera and Michael O’Boyle in Mexico City; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Crazy Larry Klayman Files Insane Lawsuit Against President Obama, Black Lives Matter



Thanks to the Internet, blogs and social media, we’re now living in a day and age where, unfortunately, the mentally unhinged have an endless array of platforms by which they can appear legitimate – even though most of them are batshit crazy.

Take for instance tea party activist Larry Klayman who’s suing President Obama, Black Lives Matter, Louis Farrakhan and Al Sharpton for “endangering not just my life, as a white law enforcement person of Jewish origin, but also for all Americans, white black, yellow or brown, no matter what their race or religion.”

Sadly, that wasn’t the end of the absurdity of this suit:

Not only does Obama have blood on his hands as having encouraged if not furthered this hate crime against whites and white cops, but so too does his “soul brothers,” the virulent anti-white, anti-Semitic and anti-Christian so-called Rev. Louis Farrakhan, leader of the Nation of Islam, and his co-enablers like another so-called reverend, Al Sharpton, a charlatan and white hater. Indeed, Obama has, as usual, chosen to associate himself with these lowlifes in his quest to ram his latent hatred of whites, Jews and Christians down everyone’s throats. When the leader of the United States and supposedly the Western world, who was born to a Muslim father, schooled in Muslim schools, and has close ties to black-Muslim leaders like Farrakhan seeks to incite violence by virtue of his running interference for Muslims and blacks who are not even representative of African-Americans generally, it’s no wonder Obama-inspired massacres like Dallas happen. In two words, “Obama Happens!”

He also accused the president of trying to instigate a “race war” by spending the last eight years “whipping up reverse racism against non-blacks and non-Muslims as payback for years of discrimination.”

Clearly, Klayman is not-at-all a racist.. not-at-all.

For the record, Klayman is currently representing racist Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio (a huge Donald Trump supporter) in court for Arpaio’s unconstitutional policies targeting Latinos.

I think it’s important to point out that Klayman is a fairly prominent member of the tea party who’s representing a blatant racist, and Trump endorsee, Joe Arpaio. So, while he’s not as widely well-known as other infamous conservative racists and bigots such as Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity – he’s still someone who’s clearly thought of highly among the “crazies” within the tea party.

Sadly, this lawsuit is no joke. This isn’t an idea he’s floating around just to get himself some attention, he filed this lawsuit with a Dallas court. 

To give you a good idea of what kind of lunatic Mr. Klayman is, this is the same man who declared President Obama must be “taken alive” for exposing Americans to Ebola and filed paperwork to have the president deported, calling him the “African-American Muslim in Chief.”

Once again, I would like to remind everyone that this is the individual representing Donald Trump’s good friend and supporter, Joe Arpaio.

This is just another reason why I find it impossible to take these people seriously. While Larry Klayman isn’t someone who most people have heard of, he’s still linked to a lot of folks most everyone has – including presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump.

Yet, despite the fact that this bumbling idiot, and blatant racist, is filing yet another completely insane and frivolous lawsuit against the president (and other prominent black leaders), it’s apparently not a big deal that he’s closely linked to people who Donald Trump often brags about supporting him.

Ladies and gentlemen, your modern day Republican party.

Allen Clifton
Posted with permission from Forward Progressives


Maureen Dowd Takes Racial Swipes at Obama in Wrathful Anti-Hillary Tirades




Maureen Dowd’s anti-Hillary vendetta is a grim fact of American political life. Her impotent, enraged, anddeeply dishonest New York Times tirades betray asick obsession unlike anything we’ve witnessed in modern political media. Lately, Dowd has taken to using these columns as a platform for racially-tinged attacks against President Obama. 

I also pointed this out:

Dowd’s hate and envy masquerading as editorials is nothing new. But she got sloppy this time, slipping in a line accusing America’s first African American president of “using race” to get elected: “[Hillary’s] campaign cries sexism too often. In 2008, Barack Obama used race sparingly.” In the context of the previous sentence about Hillary’s campaign “crying sexism,” her insinuation about Barack Obama is crystal clear: he “used race” to get elected. It’s hard to imagine a benign interpretation of the word “used” in this instance.

In Dowd’s latest poisonous and deceitful anti-Hillary screed, she refers to America’s first black president as “Barry” and says that Hillary’s “goo got on Obama.” For good measure, she accuses Attorney General Loretta Lynch of “dancing with the Arkansas devil in the pale moonlight.”

So, in Dowd’s view, Barack Obama “used race” to get elected, has Hillary’s “goo” on him, and isn’t worthy of enough respect to be referred to by his proper name and title in the pages of the New York Times.

The soul-gutting bitterness of Dowd and other Stop Hillary fanatics will only get worse in the months to come, as Hillary’s supporters get closer to finally vanquishing them in the voting booth.

And we can expect more putrid Hillary-bashing columns from Dowd, suffused with racially-charged jabs at President Obama for helping Hillary become America’s first woman president.

The entire spectacle is utterly disgraceful. The Times should know better.

Peter Daou


Peter Daou is a former adviser to Hillary Clinton and John Kerry and a veteran of two presidential campaigns. He is the CEO of BNR.

I worked in the CIA under Bush. Obama is right to not say “radical Islam.”

Darren McCollester/Getty Images

VOX Policy & Politics

Avoiding the phrase isn’t “politically correct.” It’s strategic.

The recent verbal attacks by the Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump and his supporters on President Barack Obama for avoiding the phrase “radical Islam” in his public pronouncements are simplistic, racially inflammatory — and flatly misinformed.

Settling upon accurate and strategically nuanced terms to describe the post-9/11 enemy is not the product of “political correctness” (contra Trump) or a failure to understand the enemy (contra a much-discussed Atlantic cover story). Nor are objections to using overly broad terms like “Islamic radicalism” limited to Democrats. The Bush administration understood the power of words, too. It concluded that distinctions that may seem small to Christian-American ears make a big difference to the mainstream Muslims we need on our side.

When I directed the Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program at the CIA in the early 2000s, I frequently interacted with senior Bush administration policymakers about how to engage Muslim communities and, when doing so, which words and phrases to use to best describe the radical ideology preached by al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations. Always, the aim was to distinguish between radicals and extremists and the vast majority of mainstream Muslims, and to make sure the latter understood that we were not lumping them in with the former.

Like the Obama administration, the Bush administration correctly judged that the term “radical Islam” was divisive and adversarial, and would alienate the very people we wanted to communicate with.

Trump and those who echo his views must realize there is no such thing as one Islamic world or one Islamic ideology — or even one form of radicalism in the Muslim world. Many diverse ideological narratives characterize Muslim-majority and Muslim-minority countries and the 1.6 billion Muslims across the globe. To paint them all with the same broad brush of radicalism and extremism is absurd, dangerous, and politically self-serving.

Trump and those who share his views on this question may truly believe, as they insist when pressed, that “Islamic radicalism” describes only a subset of Muslims. But to Muslims, or for anyone familiar with the many strands of Islam, the phrase connotes a direct link between the mainstream of the Muslim faith and the violent acts of a few. What’s more, Trump appears to be recklessly pandering to the uninformed part of the American electorate that does believe in such a connection between the mainstream and the fringe.

Like the Obama administration, the Bush administration knew words matter

The project of choosing words carefully must begin with knowledge. Al-Qaeda, and more recently ISIS, have mostly drawn on the radical Sunni Wahhabi-Salafi ideology, which primarily emanates from Saudi Arabia. How to describe that narrow ideology to a broader audience was the focus of many conversations and briefings I attended after 9/11.

Many in the West, including some senior policymakers, have had only a scant knowledge of this type of ideology, which has wreaked deadly violence against Muslims and non-Muslims alike. I recall a conversation I had with a senior policymaker in which he asked me to explain “Wahhabism.” Since he had very limited time, I told him, “Wahhabists are akin to Southern Baptists.” That is: They read the holy text literally and are intolerant of other religious views. Wahhabists, like some Baptists, also abhor reasoning or “ijtihad” that would encourage them to question their religious brand. (Further complicating matters, Saudi Arabian officials, who generally embrace Wahhabi Salafism, describe those who use this ideology to justify their attacks on Saudi Arabia and other Muslim states as “deviants” from the faith.)

The roots of this radicalism go back to the Hanbali School of Jurisprudence, one of the four Schools in Sunni Islam, dating to the ninth century. Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, an 18th century Saudi theologian, adopted the teachings of the Hanbali School as the authentic teachings of Islam. This Saudi strain of Islam has been further radicalized by Osama bin Laden, al-Qaeda, ISIS, and other Sunni terrorist groups. The other three, generally more liberal, schools are the Shafi’i, the Maliki, and the Hanafi — also named after their founders in the eighth and ninth centuries. Adherents of these more tolerant schools live across the wider Muslim world, from Morocco to Indonesia, from Turkey to South Asia.

Any terminology that the commander in chief of the United States settles on ought to reflect that we are speaking of Sunni-based radicalism — a strain that takes a particularly intolerant, exclusive, narrow-minded view of Islam and its relations with other Muslims and the non-Muslim world.

But there are at least two reasons why speaking of Wahhabism, while accurate, won’t fly in most public pronouncements: The word means little to the US domestic audience, and it could alienate Saudi Arabia, a complicated partner (to say the least) in anti-terror efforts. This is the one area in which the charge of “political correctness” carries some weight (although “political realism” may be a more reasonable way of describing the phenomenon).

Beyond ruling out “radical Islam” as overly broad, policymakers and advisors under both the Bush and Obama administrations have been careful not to accept the characterizations that violent extremists give to themselves, which inflate their role within their faith. That is why we don’t call them “jihadists” or, more obviously, “martyrs.”

The decision to avoid “radical Islam” is a strategic one

In short, both the Bush and Obama administration officials have refrained from using “Islamic radicalism” and its variants not because of “political correctness” but because of their nuanced knowledge of the diversity of Islamic ideologies. The term doesn’t enhance anyone’s knowledge of the perpetrators of terrorism or of the societies that spawn them, and it might hurt us in the global war of ideas. Policymakers refer to members of al-Qaeda and ISIS as “hijackers” of their faith in order to signal their support for mainstream Islamic leaders in an alliance against minor radical offshoots, not because they are unaware that some members of al-Qaeda and ISIS are theologically “sophisticated” (or “very Islamic,” as the Atlantic provocatively put it).

As our interest in Saudi Arabia’s oil wanes, some expect future administrations to take a tougher approach toward Saudi Arabia on the question of radical religious ideology. We may yet begin to hear talk of Wahhabi Salafism from a future White House.

But more likely, the next administration — I expect it will be the Clinton administration — will continue the policy the Bush administration began of referring to terrorists by the names of their organizations: Hezbollah, Ahl al-Bayt, the (Iranian) Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the Quds Force, ISIS, and so on.

Using such terms avoids demonizing majorities of Sunni Muslims who just want to follow their faith, devoid of politics or activism. Simple terms like “terrorists,” “killers,” and “criminals” are also quite effective.

Emile Nakhleh, a retired senior intelligence service officer and former director of the Political Islam Strategic Analysis Program at the CIA, is research professor and director of the Global and National Security Policy Institute at the University of New Mexico, and the author of A Necessary Engagement: Reinventing America’s Relations with the Muslim World.

Obama addresses Trump’s verbal attack on Islam

A Cold Shudder Goes Through Republicans As Obama Destroys Trump With 6 Sentences

A Cold Shudder Goes Through Republicans As Obama Destroys Trump With 6 Sentences(gallerily.com)


At a fundraiser for Gov. Jay Inslee (D-WA), the President said:

These are real challenges. The anxieties they cause are real. And unfortunately, when people are anxious and scared, there are going to be politicians out there who try to prey on that frustration to get themselves headlines and to get themselves votes. And that’s what the Republicans have been doing for a while now. That’s the story they’ve been telling. Not just their guy at the top of the ticket, but up and down the ticket, and in states like Washington.

Their story is that working folks have been victimized by freeloaders, and minorities, and unions, and the “47 percent.” And immigrants and foreigners are stealing whatever jobs Obamacare hasn’t already killed. They don’t tell you what they’re for. They define their economic agenda by what they’re against or, more often, who they’re against.


Because whatever our differences, we all love this country and we all care fiercely about our children’s futures. And we don’t have time for charlatans. And we don’t have time for hatred. And we don’t have time for bigotry. And we don’t have time for flimflam. And we don’t have the luxury of just popping off and saying whatever comes to the top of our heads. Don’t have time for that.

There may be setbacks along the way, and our progress will always be unfinished — and every one of you will always have another list of things for me to do. But what I know is that with steady, persistent, collective effort, things get better. With steady, persistent, collective effort and thought and cooperation, we ultimately deliver brighter days for our children, and our children’s children.

The Democratic Party’s top communicators are already in sharp form. President Obama never mentioned Donald Trump’s name because he will not elevate the Republican nominee to a position where he doesn’t belong.

The President was correct. Republicans have been pulling from the same playbook of division for years. Donald Trump is more overt about his intentions. Trump isn’t blowing dog whistles. He is directly appealing to racism and bigotry in an attempt to win votes.

What should terrify Republicans is how easily President Obama was able to take apart Trump. His argument is a simple one. America doesn’t need to be distracted by a man who says whatever pops into his head while running an endless shell game of a presidential campaign.

The argument against Trump isn’t one that needs to be based on facts or records because Trump doesn’t believe in either of those things. The most effective argument against Trump is moral. America needs a president that brings out the best in our country. Donald Trump appeals to our worst collective impulses. Trump’s campaign doesn’t represent who we are, or who we should aspire to be as a country.

Be very afraid, Republicans. President Obama is coming for Trump, and his argument is already deadly.


Political scientist: Bernie isn’t the future of the Democratic Party. Barack Obama is.


Bernie Sanders may have lost the current battle for the Democratic nomination. But he’s winning the war for the party’s future.

That, at least, is the conventional wisdom about Sanders’s campaign — that while the Vermont senator may go down to defeat in this presidential cycle, his young supporters can expect sweeping victory within a generation or two.

“Whatever Sanders’s fate as a presidential candidate … his campaign is the harbinger of a deep change in the Democratic Party,” wrote the New Republic’s Jeet Heer after Sanders won New Hampshire. “In coming years, Democratic politicians will have to echo Sanders’s slashing critique of Wall Street and his call for a far more robust welfare state if they want to hold on to the rising generation in their party.”

But Dave Hopkins, a political scientist at Boston College, thinks these kinds of interpretations may be overstating the long-term significance of Sanders’s insurgency.

“There’s a temptation to assume that everything new in politics is a harbinger of the future. But lots of things are dead ends: They rise, and they go away,” Hopkins says. “There’s no reason to believe just definitionally that Sanders represents the future of the Democratic Party more than anybody else.”

For one, Hopkins sees little reason to believe that the young voters who have overwhelmingly backed Sanders will remain wedded to his political vision. And the title of most popular Democrat still belongs to the man in the White House: Barack Obama continues to command massive popularity among the Democratic rank and file — about 80 percent of Democrats approve of his job performance.

“It seems like [Obama] will go down in history as the key figure in current Democratic Party politics — he showed how the party’s new demographic coalition could come together. If you want to talk about the future of the Democratic Party, that’s where it is,” Hopkins said.

In a phone call earlier this week, Hopkins told me why he thinks Sanders has failed to transform the Democratic Party this time around, and why — media speculation aside — he probably doesn’t represent its future either.

A transcript of our conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity, follows below.

Has Bernie Sanders pulled the party to the left?

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders (Getty)

Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. (Getty)

Jeff Stein: I want to get a sense of the extent to which you think Sanders has pulled the Democratic primary to the left. On some of these issues — the Trans-Pacific Partnership, wealth inequality, the minimum wage — hasn’t his message changed Clinton’s?

Dave Hopkins: I think Sanders has had a visible effect on the rhetoric of the Clinton campaign, where they clearly took seriously the critique that she was not really liberal enough and responded to Sanders’s presence in the race.


TPP is the one example where there may have actually been a substantive position change in response to him. The rest haven’t been substantive position changes but rhetorical and message differences — and, maybe, emphasizing Wall Street regulation, the public option on health care, and more debt free college.

But she didn’t adopt all of his positions, or even many of them. At most, she may have “me, too’d” some issues more than she would have otherwise.

JS: Okay, maybe Sanders didn’t force many substantive concessions. But didn’t he at least move the party to talk more about inequality? Clearly the primary at least showed future Democratic politicians the potency of his attacks on the 1 percent and the “millionaires and billionaires,” right?

DH: I think it was already there to a large extent. It’s an issue that Democrats more generally have come to talk about over the last few years even before Sanders started running. I think she was going to need to talk about it either way.

But in other ways she made other distinctions with him — at times trying to suggest he was too focused on just inequality and Wall Street and not on the other issues important to Democrats, like racial discrimination and gun control. Some of it was adapting to his candidacy by echoing him, and some of it was pushing back against him.

I’m just not sure Sanders really forced her to make any concessions that she wouldn’t have made otherwise. He never was quite enough of a threat to her actual nomination to really require her to change course in a fundamental way in this campaign. And I think a lot of where you see his influence is on the edges — in the rhetoric and the approach in the primary. And I’m not sure whether we’ll see a substantive lasting effect of the Sanders campaign.

It may be that after the conventions, the Clinton people feel they have a big problem appealing to Sanders voters and have to revisit his issues. But absent that, it’s not clear to me that there’s been a large-scale effect on the party in general.

JS: What if we look at something like campaign finance? Sanders was able to raise enough from his small-donor army to not suffer financially against Clinton and do so in a way that also redounded to his political benefit. Could there be a lasting lesson there?

DH: I think there’s probably something to that. He showed that you can raise a lot of money from small individual donations without making nice with business interests within the party, and the Clinton fundraising strategy going back to the ’90s was to sell themselves to wealthier interests as being somewhat business-friendly.

So Sanders does represent another path, and he was certainly much better-funded than most of his liberal insurgent predecessors. He showed that you can use the internet and publicity to raise an awful lot of money. That’s certainly one place where future presidential candidates could change.

Why Hopkins thinks Sanders is nowhere near remaking the party in his image


(Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)


Obama Will Meet With Sanders On Thursday


WASHINGTON — With presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton officially reaching the number of delegates required for the nomination, President Barack Obama congratulated her on Tuesday evening, and signaled that the campaign of rival Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) might be coming to an end.

According to the White House, Obama spoke to both Clinton and Sanders by phone following Tuesday’s primaries and caucuses and will meet with Sanders on Thursday, at Sanders’ request.

ASSOCIATED PRESS | President Obama spoke to both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders on Tuesday evening.

“The President congratulated Secretary Clinton for securing the delegates necessary to clinch the Democratic Nomination for President. Her historic campaign inspired millions and is an extension of her lifelong fight for middle-class families and children,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a statement.

“The President thanked Senator Sanders for energizing millions of Americans with his commitment to issues like fighting economic inequality and special interests’ influence on our politics.”

Obama will meet with Sanders in Washington on Thursday, the same day the Vermont senator plans to hold a rally there. The meeting was arranged “at Senator Sanders’ request,” Earnest said, and the two will discuss “how to build on the extraordinary work he has done to engage millions of Democratic voters, and to build on that enthusiasm in the weeks and months ahead.”

Obama has yet to make an endorsement in the race, but White House officials have said that it could come as early as this week.

In recent months, Obama has privately suggested that Sanders drop out of the raceto help Democrats unite around Clinton and prepare for the general election. He has also shown an eagerness to assail presumptive GOP nominee Donald Trump, which could be an important asset in helping Clinton defeat Trump in the general election.

Marina Fang

Obama Wins Respect in Hiroshima

Shuji Kajiyama/AP


After more than half a century of resentment, President Obama’s sincere tribute to the bombings’ fallen has begun to heal the deep bitterness between two nations.

HIROSHIMA, Japan — Almost 71 years after the United States dropped the atomic bombhere, killing more than 140,000 people, Barack Obama became the first sitting U.S. president to visit the city, and express his condolences to the people of Hiroshima and all of the innocent victims who died in the war. He received a surprisingly warm welcome; the same couldn’t be said for his Japanese counterpart, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

While Obama may not have satisfied those in the United States who portrayed the visit itself as an unwarranted apology, he appeared to have fulfilled the hopes of many in Hiroshima, especially the remaining survivors of the atomic blast known ashibakusha (those who were exposed to the radiation and damages from the atomic bomb). While Obama had an enthusiastic reception and spoke with forceful conviction to the small crowd of people allowed to attend the ceremony at Peace Memorial Park, Abeseemed oddly uncomfortable. It’s not surprising: His last visit to Hiroshima, in August 2015, was greeted with jeers and his failure to affirm Japan’s “peace constitution” or touch upon the almost sacred “three non-nuclear principles”—not possessing, not producing, and not permitting the introduction of nuclear weapons. Perhaps the tight security was not only there to protect President Obama but also to protect the prime minister from the angry voices of Hiroshima residents.



Obama Will Visit Hiroshima, But Here’s Why He Won’t Apologize for the Atomic Bomb

Obama Will Visit Hiroshima, But Here's Why He Won't Apologize for the Atomic Bomb

Image Credit: Getty Images


It’s never too late to apologize, but don’t tell that to President Barack Obama ahead of his historic speech in Hiroshima, Japan, on Friday.

He will reportedly stop short of apologizing for the atomic bomb that the United States dropped on the city in 1945, which killed thousands of people and injured scores more, to help end World War II.

Obama Will Visit Hiroshima, But Here's Why He Won't Apologize for the Atomic Bomb

Source: Stanley Troutman/AP

As Adam Taylor wrote recently for the Washington Post, Hiroshima is just one of the many man-made tragedies for which the United States refuses to apologize. Here’s a partial list: slavery’s economic impact on African Americans; the 1973 suspected coup of socialist President Salvador Allende in Chile and the dictatorial reign of Augusto Pinochet that followed; the Iraq invasion in 2003, based on alleged weapons of mass destruction that may not have actually existed.

In this case, observers believe apologizing just isn’t in the nation’s cards. “Countries in general do not apologize for violence against other countries,” Jennifer Lind — an associate professor at Dartmouth College and the author of Sorry States: Apologies in International Politics — told theWashington Post.

That, of course, isn’t always the case. Germany has pretty much apologized for its hand in World War II. “We Germans will never forget the hand of reconciliation that was extended to us after all the suffering that our country had brought to Europe and the world,” Chancellor Angela Merkel said in March 2015, according to Johns Hopkins Magazine.

But reconciliation may not be on Obama’s agenda in Japan this week.

Jamilah King

Obama’s Hiroshima visit stirs differing views across Pacific


(AP) — Two very different visions of the hell that is war are seared into the minds of World War II survivors on opposite sides of the Pacific.

Michiko Kodama saw a flash in the sky from her elementary school classroom on Aug. 6, 1945, before the ceiling fell and shards of glass from blown-out windows slashed her. Now 78, she has never forgotten the living hell she saw from the back of her father, who dug her out after a U.S. military plane dropped an atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima, Japan.

Lester Tenney saw Japanese soldiers killing fellow American captives on the infamous Bataan Death March in the Philippines in 1942. “If you didn’t walk fast enough, you were killed. If you didn’t say the right words you were killed, and if you were killed, you were either shot to death, bayonetted, or decapitated,” the 95-year-old veteran said. He still has the bamboo stick Japanese soldiers used to beat him across the face.

Different experiences, different memories are handed down, spread by the media and taught in school. Collectively, they shape the differing reactions in the United States and Japan to Barack Obama’s decision to become the first sitting American president to visit the memorial to atomic bomb victims in Hiroshima later this week.

The U.S. dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki three days after Hiroshima, and Japan surrendered six days later, bringing to an end a bloody conflict that the U.S. was drawn into after Japan’s surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

Japan identifies mostly as “a victim rather than a victimizer,” Stephen Nagy, an international relations professor at the International Christian University in Tokyo, said. “I think that represents Japan’s regional role and its regional identity, whereas the United States has a global identity, a global agenda and global presence. So when it views the bombing of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, it’s in the terms of a global narrative, a global conflict the United States was fighting for freedom or to liberate countries from fascism or imperialism. To make these ends meet is very difficult.”

A poll last year by the Pew Research Center found that 56 percent of Americans believe the use of nuclear weapons was justified, while 34 percent do not. In Japan, 79 percent said the bombs were unjustified, and only 14 percent said they were.

Terumi Tanaka, an 84-year-old survivor of the Nagasaki bombing, said of Obama: “I hope he will give an apology to the atomic bomb survivors, not necessarily to the general public. There are many who are still suffering. I would like him to meet them and tell them that he is sorry about the past action, and that he will do the best for them.”

The White House has clearly ruled out an apology, which would inflame many U.S. veterans and others, and said that Obama would not revisit the decision to drop the bombs.

“A lot of these people are telling us we shouldn’t have dropped the bomb — hey, what they talking about?” said Arthur Ishimoto, a veteran of the Military Intelligence Service, a U.S. Army unit made up of mostly Japanese-Americans who interrogated prisoners, translated intercepted messages and went behind enemy lines to gather intelligence.

Now 93, he said it’s good for Obama to visit Hiroshima to “bury the hatchet,” but there’s nothing to apologize for. Ishimoto, who was born in Honolulu and rose to be an Army major general and commander of the Hawaii National Guard, believes he would have been killed in an invasion of Japan if Japan had not surrendered.

“It would have been terrible,” he said. “There is going to be controversy about apologizing. I don’t think there should be any apology. … We helped that country. We helped them out of the pits all the way back to one of the most economically advanced. There’s no apology required.”

Beyond the deaths — the atomic bombs killed 140,000 people in Hiroshima and 73,000 in Nagasaki by the end of 1945 — the effects of radiation have lingered with survivors, both physically and mentally.

Kodama, the Hiroshima schoolgirl, faced discrimination in employment and marriage. After her first love failed because her boyfriend’s family said they didn’t want “radiated people’s blood in their family,” she married into a more understanding one.

The younger of her two daughters died of cancer in 2011. Some say she shouldn’t have given birth, even though multi-generational radiation effects have not been proven.

Obama doesn’t have to apologize, Kodama said, but he should take concrete actions to keep his promise to seek a nuclear-free world.

“For me, the war is not over until the day I see a world without nuclear weapons.” she said. “Mr. Obama’s Hiroshima visit is only a step in the process.”

Nagasaki survivor Tanaka views the atomic bombings as a crime against humanity. A promise by Obama to survivors to do all he can for nuclear disarmament “would mean an apology to us,” he said.

He added that his own government also should take some of the blame for the suffering of atomic bomb victims. “It was the Japanese government that started the war to begin with, and delayed the surrender,” he said, adding that Japan has not fully faced up to its role in the war.

Japan did issue apologies in various forms in the 1980s and 1990s, but some conservative politicians in recent years have raised questions about them, said Sven Saaler, a historian at Sophia University in Tokyo.

“In particular right now when Japan has a government that is … backpedaling in terms of apologizing for the war, if now the U.S. apologized, that also would be, I think, a weird signal in this current situation,” Saaler said.

Tenney, one of only three remaining POWs from the Bataan Death March, wants Obama in Hiroshima to remember all those who suffered in the war, not just the atomic bomb victims.

“From my point of view, the fact that the war ended when it did and the way it did, it saved my life and it saved the life of those Americans and other allied POWs that were in Japan at the time,” he said at his home in in Carlsbad, California. “I was in Japan, shoveling coal in a coal mine. No one ever apologized for that. … I end up with black lung disease because they didn’t take care of me in the coal mine, and yet there is no apology, no words of wisdom, no nothing.”

Obama’s visit is firmly supported by Earl Wineck, who scanned the skies over Alaska for Japanese warplanes during World War II.

“He’s not going there like some of them might, and keep reminding them of all their transgressions,” the 88-year-old veteran of the Alaska Territorial Guard said. “That should have ended after the war, and I think a lot of it did, but of course, there’s always people who feel resentment.”

Japan occupied two Alaskan islands during the war. The battle to retake one of them, Attu Island, cost about 3,000 lives on both sides.

“We hated them,” Wineck said “But things change, people change, and I think people in the world should be closer together.”

How so?

One Tokyo high school student has a suggestion. Mayu Uchida, who said she cried when she heard survivors recount their memories on a school trip to Hiroshima, wants Obama to bring home what he learns and tell any supporters of nuclear weapons how horrifying they are.

“He could also suggest, promoting opportunities for more Americans to visit Hiroshima, or to hear the story of Hiroshima,” the 18-year-old said. “It will be even better if those opportunities are available for younger generations like us.”


Watson reported from Carlsbad, Calif. Associated Press writers Audrey McAvoy in Honolulu, Mark Thiessen in Anchorage, Alaska, and Ken Moritsugu in Tokyo also contributed to this report.