Progressive Writers Bloc

New Year's Resolution

by Merrily Davies

A friend and I recently got into a rather heated discussion about the lies told by the Bush administration. Her comments fell along the lines of: "Well, haven't you ever told a lie before?" and "What president hasn't lied to the American people?" I was taken aback by her attack on what I consider to be a very legitimate concern.

Mark Twain once said, "There are lies, damned lies and statistics." Leaving aside his slam on statistics, my lies have never sent thousands of people to their deaths. But the damned lies told by this administration have and continue to do so.

What we were given were not reasons for war, but pretexts: 1) Iraq was in violation of UN resolutions. Never mind that our allies Israel and Turkey were in violation of 54 resolutions at the same time. Almost 100 UN resolutions are currently being violated, and enforcement on many of them is being blocked by the US or its allies. 2) Iraq had stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction, which we now know was a fabrication. 3) Iraq bought uranium from Niger, a claim in the State of the Union message based on documents known to have been forged. 4) Saddam Hussein was linked with 9/11 and Al Qaeda, which was clearly false from day one. Saddam Hussein, a secular socialist, and Osama bin Laden, a religious zealot, are arch enemies. On the basis of these lies hundreds of American lives and tens of thousands of Iraqi lives have been lost.

What is really horrifying is that there has been no outrage. Where is the outrage by the press, our Congress, our leaders and all of us who pay taxes and fund the consequences of these lies? Why did my friend attack me for strenuously objecting to the lies our president told? The prevailing attitude seems to be that leaders have a right to lie.

When Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld appeared on "Meet the Press," he didn't tell host Tim Russert that he knew where the WMD "programs" were located. He asserted that he knew where the actual weapons were hidden. No weapons have been uncovered, but that didn't stop White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan from repeating the standard line as recently as December 17: "We continue to believe that he had weapons of mass destruction programs and weapons of mass destruction." During a recent interview with Diane Sawyer, President Bush glossed over the issue of Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction. When pressed by Sawyer about the prewar claims of actual WMD, versus the now revised charges that Hussein merely had weapons programs, Bush shrugged it off with, "So what's the difference?" The difference is, of course, a sputtering weapons programs, even if it existed, is not an imminent threat that might justify a preemptive war.

This administration is Orwellian in exploiting one of the saddest lessons of history: If we're lied to long enough, we tend to reject any evidence of the lie. We're no longer interested in finding the truth. It's simply too painful to acknowledge, even to ourselves, that we've been taken in. In acquiescing to lies, "We, the People" are giving away our power. Once you give away your power, you almost never get it back.

Because of the lies told to Congress and the American people, it is going to cost American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars to rebuild Iraq. (The $87 billion is just a down payment!) The money that should go to education, health care, environmental protection, social security, etc. will go to Iraq instead. To be more precise, the money will go to defense contractors like Halliburton that have close ties to the administration. But this vast expenditure is not the end. Our youth will continue to be maimed and die. We will continue to pay in blood for this occupation, because there is no exit strategy and never was.

It was my intention when I began to write this article to ask the President to make a New Year's Resolution to tell the truth. But after doing the research I concluded that such a request would be flippant, trite and meaningless. Instead, I ask it of ourselves, who must pay the consequences of these lies, to make the resolution. Truth is not in the hands of an elite few at the top. In a democracy "We, the People" must dedicate ourselves to the truth. Our resolution must be to question everything our leaders tell us, to dig deep, to discern the truth and expose the lies, and to demand that our government conduct its business honestly and transparently, as if our precious democracy depends on it, because indeed it certainly does.

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