The Corner

Culture of Apologies

Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is demanding that, after Lee Bollinger’s introduction at Columbia, the “American people express remorse for their disrespect toward the Iranian president.”

The Iranian government has demanded U.S. authorities apologize for any number of slights, real or imagined. The most ironic was former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s apology for U.S. involvement in the 1953 coup. The irony is that most Iranian religious authorities including future leaders of the Islamic Republic opposed Musaddiq as fiercely as did the Eisenhower administration both because of the Iranian premier’s populist opposition to their conservatism as well as his flirtation with the communist Tudeh party.

It is ironic that, as apologies go, we bend over backwards to concede, but the Iranian regime has yet to apologize for seizing the U.S. embassy; holding U.S. diplomats hostage; assisting terrorists who blew up the U.S. Marine Barracks in Beirut during a peacekeeping operation; facilitating the kidnappings of and participating in the subsequent interrogations of U.S. civilians in Beirut; financing terrorists who killed American civilians in the Middle East; training and coordinating the 1996 Khobar Towers attack; providing 9-11 hijackers with safe-transit across Iran; and murdering U.S. servicemen in Iraq.

No matter how desperate Condoleezza Rice is to shake hand with her Iranian counterpart as a sort of “Hail Mary” pass to salvage her legacy, hopefully she’ll prioritize U.S. strategic interests and offer no more concessions. The Iranian regime will spin any apology into a further victory and a refutation of every valid point Bollinger raised, no matter how impolitely he raised them. Rice has already conceded enough to Iran without a single thing to show for it. Let Columbia’s alumni, and not U.S. diplomats, decide how to clean up Bollinger’s mess.

Michael Rubin is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, senior lecturer at the Naval Postgraduate School’s Center for Civil-Military Relations, and a senior editor of the Middle East Quarterly.


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