Should governments lie to their people?
by phil on Sunday Jun 15, 2003 9:44 AM
There is a lot fuss over the Administration lying about there being WMD in Iraq. Then was this small blip on the radar when it was quoted that Paul Wolfowitz said that the real reason for going to war was to remove troops from Saudi Arabia, but that they settled on the WMD argument because it was more sellable.
I don't think that the whole Iraqi War was based on completely evil intentions... I actually think that there was a genuine motive within the Administration to do good. And the main good was probably removing these troops from Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately the benefits of these troop removals is fairly understated.
After 9/11 there was all this talk about "why do they hate us" and then the immediate hatred of those who said things like that. Well, at the top of the reasons why they, as in al-Qaeda, hated us was because there were troops stationed in the Islamic Holy Land. So by removing the troops from Saudi Arabia, America is removing a major motivation for terrorist attacks.
(Troops were there in the first place to monitor Iraq and were a byproduct of the 1st Iraqi War which had international support)
The reason the Administration couldn't be upfront with this objective is for a couple of reasons:
(1) The assumption that Americans couldn't comprehend such a thing
(2) Americans wouldn't support a war to "appease" terrorists
(3) Abroad, America would look like it was appeasing and less like a wild boar whose prerogatives had to be obeyed out of fear.
(1) I think this assumption is at least partially wrong. Americans are a lot smarter than they were 50 or 100 years ago. More people read the newspapers, watch TV, and read the Internet. I think the informed American public could have handled this logic
(2) This has always been tricky. You HAVE to ask "why do they hate us" but they're right, you can't appease terrorists. But heck, what's the difference? If I slap a police officer in the face until he pulls a gun on me, shouldn't I stop giving him reason to hate me out of fear for protecting my life. So in other words, if there is something truly unfair about our foreign policy that makes a terrorist response acceptable, then I think our foreign policy should be changed. On the other hand, if you're too quick with that then you get terrorists lowering the bar as to what is appropriate situations to respond terroristically. Also, according to Machiavelli, in a choice between being feared and being loved, one should choose being feared. In interpersonal relations, I find this specious, but in Realpolitick, I get a feeling it still works. Look at France, we have saved their ass time and time again but they don't and won't owe us anything. Heck, some would say they have belligerence toward us.
(3) Yeah, you don't want to give the impression that America can be pushed around. On the other hand, you don't also don't want to give another terrible impression that America has no credibility and that it can't be trusted with power.
So, it looks like all three points could be valid in both directions. However, with a defense department that wants to expand, with big corporations hungry for oil contracts, and a president determined as any other president to get himself re-elected, you get a selective bias in favor of the position we made.
My end personal feeling is that I think the Iraqi War did more good than harm. An authoritarian, abusive dictator was removed from harm. Troops were removed from Saudi Arabia and therefore we're safer from terrorists who used that as a primary motivation. Our credibility abroad, though, has gone down the tubes. It's hard to tell whether this act was also done to make everybody else in the world stop thinking that they can intervene in America's actions. America is the one that has to worry the most about it's security and so why should other countries try to tell us how to run our business esp. when Iraq is not very deserving other other countries love to begin with.
Now, as for the Administration lying and abusing common sense rights and practices, that I think is not acceptable. I know that it was important to motivate and unite the country, but I think that the Administration is stooping too low by inventing reasons to go to War rather than mining reasons that are already there. So far, we haven't found ANYTHING in there that shows some significant effort for WMD research.
What the heck am I saying. Who cares about this crap anyways. I'm just another nobody blogger spouting my opinions. Oh well, at least I wanted to understand for myself my position in this matter, and maybe the confused might benefit from this analysis. *shrug*