Sorry States: Apologies in International Politics - Cornell Studies in Security Affairs (Paperback)
  • Sorry States: Apologies in International Politics - Cornell Studies in Security Affairs (Paperback)
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Sorry States: Apologies in International Politics - Cornell Studies in Security Affairs (Paperback)

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Paperback 256 Pages / Published: 15/03/2010
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Governments increasingly offer or demand apologies for past human rights abuses, and it is widely believed that such expressions of contrition are necessary to promote reconciliation between former adversaries. The post-World War II experiences of Japan and Germany suggest that international apologies have powerful healing effects when they are offered, and poisonous effects when withheld. West Germany made extensive efforts to atone for wartime crimes-formal apologies, monuments to victims of the Nazis, and candid history textbooks; Bonn successfully reconciled with its wartime enemies. By contrast, Tokyo has made few and unsatisfying apologies and approves school textbooks that whitewash wartime atrocities. Japanese leaders worship at the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors war criminals among Japan's war dead. Relations between Japan and its neighbors remain tense.

Examining the cases of South Korean relations with Japan and of French relations with Germany, Jennifer Lind demonstrates that denials of past atrocities fuel distrust and inhibit international reconciliation. In Sorry States, she argues that a country's acknowledgment of past misdeeds is essential for promoting trust and reconciliation after war. However, Lind challenges the conventional wisdom by showing that many countries have been able to reconcile without much in the way of apologies or reparations. Contrition can be highly controversial and is likely to cause a domestic backlash that alarms-rather than assuages-outside observers. Apologies and other such polarizing gestures are thus unlikely to soothe relations after conflict, Lind finds, and remembrance that is less accusatory-conducted bilaterally or in multilateral settings-holds the most promise for international reconciliation.

Publisher: Cornell University Press
ISBN: 9780801476280
Number of pages: 256
Weight: 397 g
Dimensions: 235 x 155 x 16 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS

"States victimized by aggression often harbor resentment against the perpetrator, but can apologies by the latter lead to reconciliation and harmonious relations' Jennifer Lind focuses on political rather than cultural factors in her cogent analysis of remembrance and remorse. She finds that the issue is whether apologies by the aggressor can reduce the perception of threat by former victims. She concludes that this is possible, but recognizes that bilateral ties may also be improved in the absence of apologies, and that apologies can produce jingoistic backlashes in their own countries."

* Choice *

"At a time when nations and societies around the world are engaging in remarkable new means to restore comity in the aftermath of violence and brutality, detailed and comparative studies of national successes and failures in reconciliation are sorely needed. Jennifer Lind's work will stand as a valued contribution in this humane project."

* Journal of Japanese Studies *

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