The Duck of Minerva

The Importance of Saying Sorry

9 September 2009

Joshua Keating at Foreign Policy asks whether North Korea’s release of a dam, whose water ended up killing 6 South Koreans Sunday, constituted a “water attack” on the South.

I see this as another example of apologies – or lack thereof – making a crucial difference in diplomatic constructions of what an incident “is.” Who knows whether this was intentional or what the motivation. North Korea’s refusal to apologize will send a message of cruel indifference and result in it being seen as an attack whether it was or not.