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“Smart power”: Three days later, Obama finally apologizes for “Polish death camps” remark

Better late than never.

After pointlessly and needlessly dragging out an international crisis for three days, presumably to install sufficient padding around his ego to absorb the shock, President Obama finally got around to apologizing to Poland for his thoughtless comment about “Polish death camps.?

He made this “gaffe? while reading a prepared speech from a teleprompter to honor Polish hero Jan Karski, who risked life and limb to infiltrate Nazi death camps built on Polish soil by German occupiers during World War II, helping expose the horror of the Holocaust to the world.

It is absolutely incomprehensible that the President waited three days to issue a simple apology for this.   Poland was furious, as were Polish-Americans.   Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said, as far back as Wednesday, that “we always react in the same way when ignorance, lack of knowledge, or bad intentions lead to such a distortion of history, so painful for us here in Poland, which suffered like no other in Europe during World War II.?

The whole crisis could have been instantly defused with a simple apology, tendered by the President himself, in either verbal or written form.   It would have been the work of moments.   Instead, the Obama Administration tried sending out a spokesman to clarify the comments: “The President was referring to Nazi death camps operated in Poland.   The President has demonstrated in word and deed his rock-solid commitment to our close alliance with Poland.?

That is most certainly not an “apology.?   It’s not difficult to construe it as an insult.   The Poles were told it was silly for them to become upset, because they should have understood the magnificent Barack Obama is incapable of malice or error.   Just check his record, and try not to think about the way he canceled your missile shield, or all that “transmission to Vladimir? stuff.

The actual apology was finally extracted by Polish president Bronislaw Komorowski, who wrote to Obama and got a reply on Friday.   As reported by the Associated Press:

“In referring to ‘a Polish death camp’ rather than ‘a Nazi death camp in German-occupied Poland,’ I inadvertently used a phrase that has caused many Poles anguish over the years and that Poland has rightly campaigned to eliminate from public discourse around the world,” Obama wrote. “I regret the error and agree that this moment is an opportunity to ensure that this and future generations know the truth.”

[?] In his response, Obama noted that “the Polish people suffered terribly under the brutal Nazi occupation during World War II.”

“In pursuit of their goals of destroying the Polish nation and Polish culture and exterminating European Jewry, the Nazis killed some six million Polish citizens, including three million Polish Jews during the Holocaust,” Obama wrote. “The bravery of Poles in the underground resistance is one of history’s great stories of heroism and courage.”

The Polish government graciously accepted the apology.   Komorowski said, “The events of the past few days and the U.S. president’s reply may, in my opinion, mark a very important moment in the struggle for historical truth.?

Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski added via Twitter, “Thank you, President Obama. Truth, honor and the legacy of Karski satisfied. Please feel free to send us your staffers for re-education.”   Sorry, Mr. Sikorski, but we’re flat broke after financing wild parties in Las Vegas for government bureaucrats, to reward them for helping to rack up a $16 trilion national debt, so I don’t think we can afford to send Obama’s gigantic staff to Poland for training.

Besides, no one with even the most cursory knowledge of Poland, or interest in the sensibilities of the Polish people, would ever speak of “Polish death camps.?   The true history of those camps can be learned in the same amount of time it would have taken to issue a simple, heartfelt apology for an honest mistake.

Written By

John Hayward began his blogging career as a guest writer at Hot Air under the pen name "Doctor Zero," producing a collection of essays entitled Doctor Zero: Year One. He is a great admirer of free-market thinkers such as Arthur Laffer, Milton Friedman, and Thomas Sowell. He writes both political and cultural commentary, including book and movie reviews. An avid fan of horror and fantasy fiction, he has produced an e-book collection of short horror stories entitled Persistent Dread. John is a former staff writer for Human Events. He is a regular guest on the Rusty Humphries radio show, and has appeared on numerous other local and national radio programs, including G. Gordon Liddy, BattleLine, and Dennis Miller.

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