In a January 18, 2001 radio interview, Obama said that the doctrines of WWII-era Nazism were “uncomfortably similar to what [was] going on, back here at home” in the Jim Crow South.
In Response to 9/11, Obama Calls for More U.S. Foreign Aid
Eight days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Obama asserted that the attacks had grown out of “a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair”; exhorting Americans to be “unwavering in opposing bigotry or discrimination directed against neighbors and friends of Middle Eastern descent”; and urging the U.S. “to devote far more attention to the monumental task of raising the hopes and prospects of embittered children across the globe.”
Accusing the U.S. of “Just Air-Raiding Villages and Killing Civilians”
In August 2007, Obama suggested that as a result of President Bush’s poor military leadership, U.S. troops in Afghanistan had done a disservice to their mission by “just air raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous problems there.”
“All Too Often the United States Starts by Dictating”
Obama said: “All too often the United States starts by dictating ... and we don’t always know all the factors that are involved. So let’s listen.”
Obama apologized to the Muslim world for former President Bush’s use of the term “Islamic fascism.” Said Obama: “[T]he language we use matters. And what we need to understand is, is that there are extremist organizations—whether Muslim or any other faith in the past—that will use faith as a justification for violence. We cannot paint with a broad brush a faith as a consequence of the violence that is done in that faith’s name.”
Obama said the Islamic world’s ill will toward the United States was a result of the Bush administration’s “cowboy diplomacy,” which had eroded Muslims’ faith in the purity of U.S. intentions. “We are looking at the region as a whole and communicating a message to the Arab world and the Muslim world,” he said, “that we are ready to initiate a new partnership based on mutual respect and mutual interest.”
Rejecting the Practice of America “Simply Dictating Solutions”
At a news conference during the G-20 Summit in April 2009, Obama tried to distinguish his own policies from those of the Bush administration by issuing a verbal slap at his predecessor in the White House: “I just think in a world that is as complex as it is, that it is very important for us to be able to forge partnerships as opposed to simply dictating solutions.”
“America Has Shown Arrogance”
In April 3, 2009 speech in Strasbourg, France, Obama criticized his home country by saying: “In America, there’s a failure to appreciate Europe‘s leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.”
Dismissing “American Exceptionalism”
On April 4, 2009 in Strasbourg, France, Obama was asked whether he believed in the concept of American exceptionalism. He replied: “I believe in American exceptionalism just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism.”
America's “Legacies of Slavery and Segregation”
In an April 7, 2009 speech to the Turkish Parliament, Obama said: “The United States is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history. Facing the Washington Monument that I spoke of is a memorial of Abraham Lincoln, the man who freed those who were enslaved even after Washington led our Revolution. Our country still struggles with the legacies of slavery and segregation, the past treatment of Native Americans.”
America's Tendency to “Dictate Our Terms”
On April 17, 2009 in Tobago, Obama said: “We have at times been disengaged, and at times sought to dictate our terms.”
Obama Fails to Defend America against Verbal Assaults by Daniel Ortega and Hugo Chavez
When President Obama traveled to Tobago in April 2009 to meet with Latin American leaders, he sat through a 50-minute diatribe by Nicaragua’s Communist President Daniel Ortega, who charged that the U.S. had been guilty of expansionist aggression for at least a century. In particular, Noriega condemned President John F. Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs effort to overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro. When asked afterward what he thought of Ortega’s speech, Obama replied, “It was 50 minutes long. That’s what I thought.”
When Obama himself later addressed those attending the conference, he did not defend his country against Ortega’s accusations. Instead, he took the occasion to rebuke America: “While the United States has done much to promote peace and prosperity in the hemisphere, we have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms.” He also said, humorously: “I’m grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened [the Bay of Pigs] when I was three months old.” (It bears mention that Obama’s chronology was flawed. The Bay of Pigs invasion occurred in April 1961; Obama was not born until August of that year.)
Also in Tobago, Venezuela’s Communist President Hugo Chavez gifted Obama a copy of The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of Pillage of a Continent—a book-length diatribe by Eduardo Galeano that described the U.S. under President Bush as “a terrorist menace” and a “machine of killing peoples” that was voraciously “devouring the world resources … each day.” Obama accepted the book politely and later said, “I think it was, it was a nice gesture to give me a book. I’m a reader.”
This was the same Hugo Chavez who had told an Iranian audience three years earlier: “Let's save the human race, let's finish off the U.S. empire. This [task] must be assumed with strength by the majority of the peoples of the world.” On other recent occasions, Chavez had called the U.S. “the greatest threat looming over our planet,” a nation whose “hegemonic pretensions ... are placing at risk the very survival of the human species.” He had referred to President Bush as “the Devil” and an aspiring “world dictator.” And he had asserted that “the government of the United States doesn't want peace,” but rather “wants to exploit its system of exploitation, of pillage, of hegemony through war.”
Accusing President Bush of Having “Trimmed Facts and Evidence to Fit Ideological Predispositions”
In a May 21, 2009 speech Regarding the War on Terror, Obama said: “Unfortunately, faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions. In other words, we went off course. I believe that many of these decisions were motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people. But I also believe that all too often our government made decisions based on fear rather than foresight, that all too often our government trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions.”
America Acted “Unilaterally Without Regard for the Interests of Others”
On September 23, 2009, President Obama addressed the UN General Assembly for the first time. In that speech, he made an effort to differentiate his own presidency and policies from those of his predecessor, George W. Bush:
“I took office at a time when many around the world had come to view America with skepticism and distrust. A part of this was due to misperceptions and misinformation about my country. Part of this was due to opposition to specific policies and a belief on, on certain critical issues, America had acted unilaterally without regard for the interests of others.”
“On my first day in office, I prohibited without expectation or equivocation the use of torture by the United States of America.”
“I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed.”
“America has, too often, been selective in its promotion of democracy.”
State Department Issues Veiled Apology to Rioters Who Stormed U.S. Embassy in Egypt
On September 11, 2012, Islamist protesters stormed the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, Egypt, where they destroyed the American flag and replaced it with a black Islamist flag that read, “There is one God, Allah, and Mohammad is his prophet.” The protesters said they were angry over a film that was critical of the Prophet Muhammad and had been produced in the U.S. In response to the mayhem, the State Department issued a veiled apology to those Muslims whose “religious feelings” had supposedly been “hurt” by “those [i.e., people like the filmmaker] who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.”
Obama Derides America in Vietnam
On May 24, 2016 in Hanoi, President Obama delivered an address to the people of Communist-ruled Vietnam on the importance of upholding human rights, but prefaced his remarks by saying the following about the United State: “No nation is perfect. Two centuries on, the United States is still trying to striving to live up to our founding ideals. We still deal with our shortcomings – too much money in politics, and rising economic inequality. Racial bias in our criminal justice system. Women still not being paid as much as men doing the same job. We still have problems and we’re not immune from criticism – I promise you, I hear it every day.”
After Vietnam's Communist leader repeatedly quoted Ho Chi Minh during yet another media event, Obama said: "For you, that conflict [the Vietnam War] was a bitter memory. But today, Vietnam and America show the world that hearts can change and peace is possible. And we thank Secretary Kerry and all our veterans here today, both Vietnamese and American, who had the courage not only to fight, but, more importantly, had the courage to make peace. I think oftentimes our veterans can show us the way. One American veteran came here and described meeting a former North Vietnamese soldier. 'He came up and shook my hand, and now we’re friends,' this veteran said. 'Without the high-powered politicians, people can just get along as human beings.'"
Journalist Daniel Greenfield noted: "It's clever of Obama to put his agenda in the mouth of some unnamed veteran even while suggesting that American veterans died and were wounded in Vietnam for nothing. Obama not only fails to acknowledge their sacrifice, but he effectively erases it and replaces it with a Zinnian insistence that the Vietnam War was the work of politicians. But then when you form common cause with Communists, you can't acknowledge that Communism might be an aggressive and murderous ideology. And that fighting it might be justified. Obama dismisses the 'courage to fight' and replaces it with the 'courage to make peace' which is more important. The only Vietnam War veterans worth honoring are appeasers like Kerry."
Obama in Japan
On May 26, 2016, President Obama was in Japan and said, regarding a ceremony scheduled for the following day in Hiroshima, that the event would "honor all those who were lost in World War Two."
Obama's Remarks in Hiroshima
On May 27, 2016, President Obama delivered a speech in Hiroshima. Among his remarks were the following:
"Seventy-one years ago, on a bright cloudless morning, death fell from the sky and the world was changed. A flash of light and a wall of fire destroyed a city and demonstrated that mankind possessed the means to destroy itself. Why do we come to this place, to Hiroshima? We come to ponder a terrible force unleashed in a not so distant past. We come to mourn the dead, including over 100,000 Japanese men, women and children, thousands of Koreans, a dozen Americans held prisoner. Their souls speak to us. They ask us to look inward, to take stock of who we are and what we might become....
"The world war that reached its brutal end in Hiroshima and Nagasaki was fought among the wealthiest and most powerful nations....
"… Yet in the image of a mushroom cloud that rose into these skies, we are most starkly reminded of humanity’s core contradiction. How the very spark that marks us as a species, our thoughts, our imagination, our language, our toolmaking, our ability to set ourselves apart from nature and bend it to our will — those very things also give us the capacity for unmatched destruction.
"… We stand here in the middle of this city and force ourselves to imagine the moment the bomb fell. We force ourselves to feel the dread of children confused by what they see. We listen to a silent cry.
"… But the memory of the morning of Aug. 6, 1945, must never fade. That memory allows us to fight complacency. It fuels our moral imagination. It allows us to change. And since that fateful day, we have made choices that give us hope. The United States and Japan have forged not only an alliance but a friendship that has won far more for our people than we could ever claim through war.
"… We may not be able to eliminate man’s capacity to do evil, so nations and the alliances that we form must possess the means to defend ourselves. But among those nations like my own that hold nuclear stockpiles, we must have the courage to escape the logic of fear and pursue a world without them. We may not realize this goal in my lifetime, but persistent effort can roll back the possibility of catastrophe. We can chart a course that leads to the destruction of these stockpiles. We can stop the spread to new nations and secure deadly materials from fanatics. And yet that is not enough. For we see around the world today how even the crudest rifles and barrel bombs can serve up violence on a terrible scale. We must change our mindset about war itself....
"We're not bound by genetic code to repeat the mistaks of the past.
"… Those who died [in Hiroshima], they are like us. Ordinary people understand this, I think. They do not want more war. They would rather that the wonders of science be focused on improving life and not eliminating it. When the choices made by nations, when the choices made by leaders, reflect this simple wisdom, then the lesson of Hiroshima is done. The world was forever changed here, but today the children of this city will go through their day in peace. What a precious thing that is. It is worth protecting, and then extending to every child. That is a future we can choose, a future in which Hiroshima and Nagasaki are known not as the dawn of atomic warfare but as the start of our own moral awakening."