From Buenos Aires to Hiroshima, President Barack Obama has spoken of the harm done abroad as a result of his predecessors' foreign policy decisions.
The most recent instance occurred during his visit last week to tiny Laos, where he reviewed the destruction wrought by U.S. bombing of that country during the wars in Southeast Asia nearly half a century ago. "Countless civilians were killed," he lamented.
Republican critics in this country have derided these "apology tours," but that's not fair. Obama has generally stuck to passive-voice formulations, as he did in Laos, and avoided explicit apology.
Still, the moralizing comes through, which raises a question: Just how different is Obama's conduct from that of the past presidents whose judgments he reviews today?
Obama said the U.S. air campaign in Laos - aimed at North Vietnamese communists who were illegally using the neutral country as a supply route to South Vietnam - not only caused massive collateral damage, it was also "a secret war," whose full scope is not widely known "even now."