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What Bush should have said
12 September 2001
My fellow Americans. I would like to deeply and sincerely apologize to you all, and particularly to those injured and to the loved ones of those lost. You see, largely away from the public eye, my administration and its predecessors have intervened without cease in the affairs of other peoples. But we have not intervened to advance freedom. We have not intervened to advance democracy. We have not even intervened to protect the interests of the relatively small population of this country.
Instead, we have intervened to advance the business interests of our campaign contributors and networks of friends and advisers, to put down the unrest of the many thousands of foreign people who are left impoverished and disenfranchised by our economic policies, and to ensure the military and political dominance of our country over other nations.
In the last ten years alone America's manipulation of the politics and economies of other people has led us to impose economic policies that reduce access to health care and education in poor countries like Argentina, Turkey, and South Korea.
It has led us to arm the governments of countries like Colombia, Israel, Indonesia, and Turkey that themselves use terror - but on a much larger scale than seen today - to suppress the desires of their own people.
And it has led us to brutally attack the Iraqi people with both bombs and sanctions in order to cripple their dictator, in the process killing perhaps two hundred innocent Iraqis for every one innocent American who died today.
I apologize on behalf of my own administration, but also on behalf of the Clinton administration, the first Bush administration, the Reagan administration, and previous governments stretching back to the very founding of the country, all of which used military and economic power to conquer other lands, choose their political leaders, or set their economic policies.
I apologize on behalf of both Democrats and Republicans, virtually all of whom have unquestioningly supported these actions. I apologize on behalf of the business leaders whose interests have motivated these actions.
And I apologize on behalf of the news media, which have suppressed discussion of the tremendous negative effects of our foreign policy and which will, in this particular case, refuse to raise the question of why foreigners would be so angry at our country. Please accept this apology.
Your leaders, without your knowledge or consent, have used the tremendous power of your country to institutionalize inequality and militarism worldwide. While acting in your name, we have pursued the interests of a narrow, tremendously powerful section of the population. And it is for this reason that you suffer today.
I ask the American people to oppose the attacks that this disaster will surely bring against our civil liberties and against our residents of Middle Eastern descent. Together we must resist the urge to intensify a spiral of retribution and violence, and work instead toward a world in which no one feels so powerless or oppressed that he or she must resort to violence.