Obama Administration Message on 9/11: It's 'Not Just About Us'

White House issues separate memos for commemorating anniversary stateside and abroad

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The Obama administration has issued guidelines for government officials commemorating the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks, The New York TimesThom Shanker and Eric Schmitt report. The memo for stateside agencies is what you might expect: honoring the service of the military and law enforcement, highlighting what policies have made us safer since that attack, and preparing for the next one. But the message for agencies abroad is a bit more surprising: acknowledging that the 9/11 anniversary is "not just about us," and that the global goodwill American enjoyed after the attacks turned into anger at post-attack policies like the war in Iraq.

The Times got copies of the two memos; the one for Americans abroad says, "As we commemorate the citizens of over 90 countries who perished in the 9/11 attacks, we honor all victims of terrorism, in every nation around the world... We honor and celebrate the resilience of individuals, families, and communities on every continent, whether in New York or Nairobi, Bali or Belfast, Mumbai or Manila, or Lahore or London." References to al-Qaeda will be scarce because Osama bin Laden is dead and therefore the terror group is becoming "increasingly irrelevant."

Though rebuilding support for the U.S. abroad is a worthy goal, it seems like these guidelines will fit in neatly with a popular meme on the right, that President Obama goes around the world and apologizes for how awesome America is. "Obama's apology tour" has been debunked by The Washington Post and other places, but several Republican presidential candidates have made references to Obama's supposed tendency to play down American specialness abroad. That events commemorating 9/11 will be "not just about us" seems likely to fit into that theme.

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