Thursday, August 5, 2010
GOVERNMENTS LIE - August 5, 2010
Years ago, I learned from my friend I. F. Stone that governments lie. Not that they always lie, or even most of the time, but they have no strong tendency to tell the truth. In fact, the only thing that we can conclude from a statement of fact from one of them is that they would rather we believe it than not. This injunction applies especially when they give us a reason for undertaking fierce action or even going to war. When we remember the Alamo or the Maine, we are very likely to be seduced into doing something that we would otherwise not do. In more recent memory, that applies to the sinking of the Lusitania or the USS Maine, or the incident in the Gulf of Tonkin or the weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Today, we are being told of the long chain of events in Pakistan and Afghanistan, which up until now had apparently escaped the notice of the US or UK governments. And to the extent that the leak is not exactly what the government in question wants us to believe, the revelation in question is claimed as a government secret, and we are told that deep consequences would follow if the facts in question were known. Thus is a democratic populace denied the facts on which its welfare, or even survival, is dependent, we are told. Today the issue is how we view our ally Pakistan who are, according to what we see, either supporting our needs in Asia or plotting with the Taliban to murder our soldiers there. And we have been told that that the facts in question are so dangerous for us to know that no official body can be told them without endangering us from who knows what. And this about an allegation that could engage us in a war, even an atomic one. I do not know when we shall know the truth about this, or about so many stories that have led us into a century of world wars, but we vote every so often based on what we have been told.