Friday, September 01, 2006

Honesty Has Become A National Inconvenience

We appear to have become a nation where “spin”, a euphemism for lying has become an accepted part of our lexicon. In fact, it’s not only considered acceptable but the underlying reasons for it are never questioned, or rarely questioned.

Our Congress has a penchant for war without declaring war. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution provided President Johnson with Congressional permission to begin hostilities against the North Vietnamese. The Johnson Administration fabricated the information that the North Vietnamese attacked a U.S. Navy ship. Our government went to war by lying and being dishonest to the American people. What were the consequences of this lie by government? Nothing. President Johnson declined to run for re-election not because he had lied but that the war was going very badly. The superpower had underestimated its North Vietnamese enemy by spinning its way into war.

Now fast forward to Iraq. The momentous Iraq war resolution was called: To Authorize the Use of the United States Armed Forces Against Iraq. The resolution passed both Houses of Congress on October 11, 2002 and the country went to war without a meaningful debate. A majority vote in the House of Representatives included 215 Republicans and 81 Democrats. In the U.S. Senate all the Republicans voted for the resolution except one and a majority of Democrat Senators voted for the resolution to use force against Iraq.

We now know the major reasons for going to war against Iraq were untrue. Some people actually claim it was all an honest mistake and President Bush erred on the side of pre-emption to protect the American people. And it’s only a coincidence that Iraq has the second largest oil reserves in the world. So again our government has spun our country into war. I think President Johnson believed he was protecting American people. Do we now believe that President Johnson was correct in committing the U.S. military forces in Vietnam? What was his legacy? Millions killed and injured. Cluster bombs buried in Laos and Vietnam have killed and maimed tens of thousands of Laotians and Vietnamese since 1975. Thirty years later people are still being killed and maimed, many of them children, by the bombs from the Vietnam War!

The country of Iraq is now in chaos. Security in the country is almost non-existent. Electricity is provided only a few hours a day to the Iraqi people, nearly two years after the U.S. took control of the country. Back to spinning and lying. Is it important for the American people to know that a grave mistake in intelligence and judgment occurred with the attack on Iraq? According to the British Lancet Report between 450,000 to 600,000 Iraqis have been killed in our invasion and occupation to bring them freedom and democracy as stated by the current occupant of the White House.

Would the price of this war be worth the human costs if the children of our national leaders were also part of American casualty count in Iraq?

Apparently, the 2004 presidential election result showed the American people trust a president who misled the nation into war or who bungled us into war. Has honesty become a national inconvenience in American culture where we support our country whether it is right or wrong? Are facts themselves a minor or irrelevant appendage to our government’s conduct in the world? Is the phrase my government my country right or wrong a mantra the majority holds at all costs?

Our language has now changed, for lying and deceit have become quaint, for it is now called “spinning”. In fact, many claim spinning is not lying; it is only showing the best face on an issue, putting favorable views on a particular subject. Is deliberating omitting crucial and factual information being honest?

Was the re-election of the current occupant of the White House a validation of "War is Peace" and "Ignorance is Strength"?

George Washington said, “I hope I shall always possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an “Honest Man.”

Two hundred fifty years after our independence as a nation, how are we creating honest men in our political leaders and in our society? President Johnson misled the nation into Vietnam and President Bush misled us into Iraq. Is our national government spinning us into the future? As a nation are we allowing and condoning all the spinning by politicians? It appears so. We no longer lie; we just spin our way to place where the truth no longer resides.

Spin has become a polite word that replaces and obscures lies that may backfire economically, culturally and militarily on our nation like a buried cluster bomb in Laos or Vietnam.

Our elected political leadership has spun us into war, but had they embarked on a plan to make the United States a great humanitarian vessel to help the world in times of crisis like the current devastation wrought by the giant tsunami in Asia the United States would be a permanent beacon of hope and salvation for the world.

Instead, we have embarked upon spinning our way to salvation, for honesty it appears has become a national inconvenience. Publicly it is bad manners to call our national leaders liars, but the thousands upon thousands of people, mostly Iraqis, who were killed by their decisions is a deafening silence in the United States with consequences that will be heard long after those arrogant decisions and decision-makers are gone.

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