In an opinion piece published by Foreign Affairs, Associate Professor of Government Jennifer Lind writes about the “politics of apology,” in particular the recent controversy over reports that Kabul demanded that the U.S. apologize for its military’s “bad behavior” in Afghanistan.
The politics of apology, she writes, “are hardly limited to the United States and Afghanistan.” And apologies can sometimes makes things worse, says Lind, author of Sorry States: Apologies in International Politics.
“In the 1990s, observing the 50th anniversaries of World War II, Japan’s government issued numerous apologies, including a 1995 Diet resolution that expressed ‘a sense of deep remorse’ for the pain and suffering that Japan inflicted on its neighbors. Many Japanese conservatives denounced these gestures, asking why Japan alone should be asked to apologize, denying that Japan had committed aggression, or arguing that Koreans had welcomed their annexation into the Japanese empire. Predictably, Japan’s neighbors reacted to these remarks with outrage and expressions of deep distrust.”