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Sorry States: Apologies in International Politics [Hardcover]

Jennifer M. Lind

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Book Description

July 31 2008 Cornell Studies in Security Affairs
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.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 242 pages
  • Publisher: Cornell Univ Pr (July 31 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0801446252
  • ISBN-13: 978-0801446252
  • Product Dimensions: 24 x 17 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 499 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,445,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

From the Back Cover

"Sorry States is an extremely timely book, covering an issue of great importance for the international relations of East Asia (and beyond). Jennifer Lind has compiled all of the important statements on war responsibility and related issues by Japanese and German politicians and other elites, including not just the official statements and acts but also the backlash statements that have received media attention."—Leonard J. Schoppa, University of Virginia, author of Race for the Exits

"Is remorse the condition of reconciliation? With this original piece of scholarship, Jennifer Lind presents a more subtle argument. Yes, West Germany apologized profusely for Nazi atrocities, while Japan could never quite go beyond 'those unfortunate incidents.' As a result, Germany enjoys excellent relations with its neighbors, and Japan does not. Austria and Italy—Axis partners both—largely dodged their wartime responsibilities and still became respected members of the Western community. Neither have the United States and Britain apologized for Dresden, and yet they went on to enjoy warm relations with their wartime foes. Similarly, the Germans have not apologized to the French, their best friends in Europe. As it dissects these paradoxical outcomes, Sorry States makes a critical contribution to our understanding of comparative foreign policy and the politics of remembrance and reconciliation. It is a fine blend of good history and good political science."—Josef Joffe, Publisher-Editor, Die Zeit, Germany, and Senior Fellow, Institute for International Studies, Stanford University --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Jennifer Lind is Assistant Professor of Government at Dartmouth College. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 5.0 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Timely, original, and clear Oct. 27 2008
By Ryan Karr - Published on
As the international spotlight moves east towards Asia, Jennifer Lind provides an insightful look at how historical remembrance of war crimes plays a key role in East Asia and other regions. By contrasting the German-France post-WWII experience with that of Japan-Korea, the author points out a puzzle that goes against conventional wisdom: apologizing for war crimes won't necessarily improve relations with the victim nation, and it may be counter-productive. Meanwhile, states that are not contrite will most likely be viewed as threatening by its previous victims, as demonstrated by Lind in her analysis of the Japan-Korea case study. Thus, states that have committed war crimes in the past are faced with a conundrum: act contrite, and risk a counter-productive domestic backlash, or deny previous crimes and risk a foreign backlash.

This book is a great read for anyone interested in international relations, East Asia, or European reconciliation. Lind attacks the conventional wisdom and clearly shows how reconciliation is a tricky game to play. "Sorry States" is sure to satisfy not only respected IR scholars with well-organized, detailed analyses and theory testing, but also students of IR (like me) with clear and engaging discussion of one of the most important issues facing Asia today.
0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars About what promotes international reconciliation Sept. 30 2009
By ROROTOKO - Published on
"Sorry States" is on the ROROTOKO list of cutting-edge intellectual nonfiction. Professor Lind's book interview ran here as cover feature on September 21, 2009.

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