The further to the left or the right you move, the more your lens on life distorts.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Many people are angered by “lies” that are attributed to the Bush administration. The President “lied” about WMDs, his Vice president “lied” about the relative ease with which Democracy would be introduced in Iraq, government spokespeople “lied” about progress in Afghanistan, government investigators “lied” about the likelihood that Iran is pursing nuclear weapons … the list of perceived “lies” is long -- very long.

For just a moment, let’s assume that each of these “lies” is exactly what it's claimed to be—a purposeful untruth that is intended to mislead and manipulate the people on the receiving end. It follows that the people on the receiving end of these lies would despair about the honesty of the government, would discount any claim or commitment made by the government, and would generally condemn the people doing the lying as dishonest and untrustworthy. Given the administration’s penchant for lying, it would be incumbent upon the main stream media to assess the government’s claims with a jaundiced eye, suggesting through words and style that any government claims are clearly suspect. In fact, these things have come to pass.

It troubles me, therefore, that other “lies” just don’t seem to excite the passion of the same groups that are so concerned about the Administration's “lies”. In other posts I’ve discussed documented, proven lies eminating from the Gaza via Hamas (e.g., "Pallywood"); fraudulent (that’s another word for lying) Israeli war crimes claims that Hezbollah has concocted (e.g., the Red Cross ambulance case), and 30 years of lies that the Iranian regime has used whenever they “negotiated” with any western entity. Of course, for those of us who are slowly learning a bit about Islam, this lying really isn’t lying– rather it’s called taqiya -- religiously sanctioned untruths designed to confuse and ultimately defeat the infidel.

Many of these lies are small, but their overall impact is insidious. For example, Michael Rubin relates how a small lie was used by Iran in a famous case of freedom of speech:

Iranian authorities showed diplomatic duplicity once again after Khomeini issued a declaration calling for author Salman Rushdie's death. Four months before Khomeini's death, then-president Khamenei demanded that Mr. Rushdie apologize in exchange for cancellation of a religious edict ordering his murder. Mr. Rushdie apologized, but the Iranian government nevertheless kept the bounty in place. President Khamenei was insincere, his diplomacy was a tactic. By winning an apology, he confirmed Mr. Rushdie's guilt.

When taken as a whole, this Web of lies is astonishing. But where is the outrage? Where are the media exposes? Why is it that the same people who have become so exercised about our government's lies purposely overlook continual and blatant lying on the part of various middle-eastern entities? Why is it that we’re asked to negotiate with these lying entities? How can we possibly believe that the promises and commitments derived through arduous negotiation will have meaning? Rubin comments about the calls for direct negotiation with Iran:
While diplomacy necessarily involves talking to adversaries, Washington should not assume that the ayatollahs operate from the same set of ground rules … . The Iranian leadership will say anything and do anything to buy the time necessary to acquire nuclear capability. That Foggy Bottom still advises against any strategy that might undercut the possibility of some illusionary breakthrough signals triumph not of realism but of negligence. Diplomacy cannot succeed if one side is playing for real and the other only for time.

But it does appear that lying will succeed, if it emanates from perceived “victims” and beleaguered nation states. Maybe that’s because the same people who are convinced that Washington is not telling the truth, want so badly to believe that Hamas, Hezbollah, and Iran are.