(CNSNews.com) – The nation’s largest veterans’ organization, the American Legion, criticized President Obama for apologizing for to the Muslim world for U.S. behavior in the in aftermath of the 9/11 attacks during his address from Cairo last week.
“When the president pronounces, as he did in his conciliatory address in Egypt, that the events of Sept. 11, 2001, in his words, ‘led us to act contrary to our traditions and our ideals’, he must, in our opinion, demand equally public admission from the Muslim world,” David K. Rehbein, national commander of the American Legion said in a news release.
Obama, who reiterated his commitment to remove U.S. troops from Iraq by 2012, apologized for the way the U.S. reacted to the 9/11 attacks by Muslim extremists.
“9/11 was an enormous trauma to our country,” he added. “The fear and anger that it provoked was understandable, but in some cases, it led us to act contrary to our ideals.”
The president also pointed out that he believes the U.S. has a “responsibility” to give Iraq back to its people.
“Unlike Afghanistan, Iraq was a war of choice that provoked strong differences in my country and around the world,” Obama said. “Although I believe that the Iraqi people are ultimately better off without the tyranny of Saddam Hussein, I also believe that events in Iraq have reminded America of the need to use diplomacy and build international consensus to resolve our problems whenever possible.”
Rehbein indicated that the commander-in-chief should not be apologizing for “anything” related to Iraq, but instead should ask the Muslim world to admit “that elements within its community have been responsible for egregious acts of terrorism including mass killings, torture and public beheadings – acts that must be contrary to their traditions and ideals.”
“Although The American Legion does not believe that the United States has anything to apologize for, we appreciate the spirit of President Obama’s call for what he termed a ‘new beginning’ in our relationship with the followers of Islam,” Rehbein said.
“Today, America has a dual responsibility: to help Iraq forge a better future - and to leave Iraq to Iraqis,” said Obama.
VetsForJustice.com, a Web site that says it advocates for veteran rights, took issue with the American Legion’s criticism, and defended Obama’s apology as a move that “will improve the role of the U.S. in the Iraq war.”
“I am glad to see a president attempting to make us the good guys again, and honest enough to admit when we may have made mistakes,” VetsForJustice.com founder Billy Kidwell told CNSNews.com.
Many relatives of U.S. troops in Iraq, meanwhile, are quietly seething about Obama’s comments about the war in Iraq.
Last week, a woman whose husband was recently dispatched to Iraq called “The Mark Levin Show” last Thursday to voice her opinion.
“Heather” from Virginia Beach told Levin, a popular nationally syndicated conservative radio talk-show host: "My husband left at 3 a.m. this morning for Iraq and it’s pretty hard to see the president condemning his mission. So, what exactly is he fighting for?"
She added: "It’s just really hard to see that (Obama's speech) when I came inside the house this morning apologizing for Iraq. What is he fighting for? If he goes out there does he die in vain?"
But Kidwell, a Vietnam veteran, told CNSNews.com that he sees no reason why soldiers should react negatively to Obama’s apologetic tone in regards to Iraq.
“If I were in Iraq it would make me feel proud that my country is big enough to admit mistakes, so we can learn from them, and hopefully choose a different path in the future,” he told CNSNews.com.
“When you put your life on the line for your country one of the most important factors is knowing that the leaders that sent you into harm's way, sent you for the right reasons. We must never forget that America must be the good guys,” he added.
Gold Star Mothers, an organization comprised of mothers who lost their offspring to the war, declined to comment on the president’s speech.