Did Our Leaders Lie to Us? Do We Even Care?
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Did Our Leaders Lie to Us? Do We Even Care?
by Robert 0aSteinback
Wednesday 30 April 2003
Now that wasn't so bad, was it?"
One of my pro-war acquaintances said this in a reassuring, not 0agloating, manner. His tone was a congenial gesture in the wake of our heated 0aarguments over the Iraq War in recent weeks; we had remained tensely civil.
I shrugged. Indeed, the shooting war in Iraq had -- from an American 0avantage point -- gone well. Relatively few casualties on our side; surviving 0aIraqis clearly pleased to be rid of Saddam Hussein, if wary of our presence.
This summation, of course, ignores many unanswered questions. So I asked him 0aone.
"Would it bother you if we were to discover that George Bush lied about 0athe case for going to war?" I asked.
He knew what I was referring to. His blunt answer left my jaw 0ahanging.
"Everyone knows he lied about weapons of mass destruction being the 0apoint of the war."
Just a few weeks ago, any statement from me that Bush's case for war 0awas riddled with inconsistencies and illogic would have brought swift and fierce 0acondemnation from this fellow.
Now, basking in the glow of military conquest -- and confronted by a 0athus-far futile search for chemical and biological weapons -- this hawk breezily 0aconceded the point while also waving it away as inconsequential.
Have we become a country that wears its hypocrisy openly and 0aproudly?
We Americans have always had a penchant for creative self-delusion. We 0achafe, for example, at corruption in government, yet routinely reelect the 0ascoundrels who perpetrate it. We demand both services and cuts in the taxes that 0apay for them.
But it seems the agony of Sept. 11 has pushed us into an altogether new 0arealm, where we don't even care if our rhetoric makes sense, as long as we're 0aled to a feel-good conclusion. The joy of kicking butt obliterates the need to 0amake an honest case for war.
Wasn't it just four years ago -- I reminded my acquaintance -- that a 0aroiling posse of critics piously preached how utterly unacceptable it was for a 0apresident to be excused even for a piddling lie that had absolutely no impact on 0athe lives of any non-Beltway American? Bill Clinton was impeached -- impeached! -- for not admitting an intern had performed a sex act on him in the Oval 0aOffice.
Now there is plausible doubt that George Bush and Colin Powell were 0atelling us the whole truth when they pronounced, not as a possibility but a 0afact, that Hussein had these terrible weapons and could at any moment instigate 0aa terrible strike on America.
Bush dismissed the efforts of chief U.N. weapons inspector Hans Blix, 0awhose teams searched for evidence of the chemical and biological weapons that 0aHussein allegedly possessed, and found nothing. We must go to war anyway, Bush 0atold us, because Hussein refuses to disarm.
Well, where is it all?
Our troops swept across Iraq in three weeks and secured oil wells 0awithin hours. Didn't we have a priority list of potential weapons depots to 0aseize and secure? Did we even know where to start looking?
Now the administration is all but giving up the search, saying it hopes 0aIraqi informants will eventually lead us to the stuff. If we didn't know where 0ait was, how did we know it was so grave a threat that war was essential?
Did Bush mislead us? Was the American public duped into supporting a 0awar that killed 128 Americans, 31 Britons and thousands of Iraqis, damaged U.S. 0aprestige around the world and may have worsened, rather than improved, U.S. 0asecurity?
Oh, who cares -- we won the war!
At least Bush wasn't lying about sex in the Oval Office! We'd have 0aimpeached him for that.
And, hey, Bush wasn't under oath, as was Clinton -- although it would 0abe nice to believe swearing honesty wouldn't be necessary when a president 0aaddresses the nation.
I don't regard my hawkish acquaintance as a hypocrite; for sure, his 0abrutal honesty makes him a rare breed.
But we're heading for big trouble as a nation if we aren't even concerned 0athat our heads of state may be manipulating us by manipulating the truth.
In a nation where hypocrisy is rewarded, expect more lies.
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