The first casualty of war is truth
The U.S. Congress is rapidly moving down the road toward approving a resolution proposed by President Bush to allow him to do just about whatever he wants in the “war on terror.” The wording of the resolution is far more sweeping than the infamous Gulf of Tonkin Resolution handed to LBJ by the Congress in August 1964, a resolution opposed by only two senators then, Ernest Gruening of Alaska and Wayne Morse of Oregon.
The skepticism of those two gentlemen ultimately proved to be very well founded. The Johnson administration was lying to Congress then about the supposed attacks on American forces in all likelihood for domestic political consumption. It is an absolute historical fact that the first casualty of war is the truth. We were lied to about Vietnam consistently from the Truman through the Nixon administrations and it cost untold billions as well as 58,000 American lives, not to mention perhaps 2 million Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians.
Any time the United States engages its military one can be rest assured that the justifications for doing so are swimming in a sea of falsehoods, half-truths, and in many cases outright lies. The infamous case leading to the first Gulf war was the tear-jerking testimony of the little girl as she told the Congressional committee about 300 premature infants tossed out of their incubators to die on the cold floor as Saddam’s men took the equipment back to Iraq.
I was somewhat skeptical at the time simply because of the math. In a very small, very rich country which provides free medical care to its citizens from cradle to grave the number struck me as dubious at best. Three hundred incubators, not to mention 300 infants in need of such
equipment in that nation just screamed “lie!”
Later it was discovered that the little girl was the ambassador’s daughter and had not been anywhere near Kuwait during the invasion and that a PR firm, Hill and Knowlton, was hired to hype the war. We also discover that April Glaspie, a U.S. diplomat in Iraq, essentially gave Saddam the green light to invade by telling him we had no interest in Arab/Arab conflicts. Of course most of this came to light only
after the country had been convinced of the inhumanity of the Iraqis. (Saddam’s inhumanity is well known.)
The lies surrounding the last Gulf war continued unabated throughout the ’90s, especially concerning the infamous Gulf war syndrome that so many soldiers began to suffer from. Do not expect a candid admission from the government about the consequences of the depleted uranium ordnance used liberally on the battlefield against Iraqi armor to which our troops were exposed. Recent studies indicate up 300 percent increases in the incidences of leukemias and other malignancies in the areas where DU ordnance was used.
What problems, including birth defects and genetic disorders in children of Gulf veterans, can be traced to the exposure those veterans experienced?
We now know that the Nixon campaign undermined the peace talks in Paris to insure his election in 1968 and the evidence is ample that the Reagan campaign probably was in contact with the Iranians to negotiate away any possible “October surprise” by Jimmy Carter. The truth about these and other events from our past have slowly trickled out from sources such as the Nixon tapes. It is becoming common knowledge that the Reagan and Bush administrations were complicit in the buildup of Saddam, giving him the very things necessary to engage in chemical attacks “against his own people” and then looked the other way when he did. How many lies remain shrouded in the
cloak of secrecy may never be known, some will never see the light of day.
The obsession with secrecy of the Bush administration would make Nixon blush. They think it’s none of our business who they met with to determine our national energy policy. None of our business! They obviously don’t trust the people as Bush claimed during the campaign. Virtually everything Bush has done has put the lie to practically everything he said. I recall something about getting Osama bin Laden but I think Osama bin Forgotten. I wouldn’t trust this man as far as I could throw a Buick, especially when the lives of our young men and women are at stake.
When Bush and Cheney rant about the imminent threat Saddam now poses and claim he has weapons of mass destruction, but then offer absolutely no evidence to support that claim, am I wrong to be skeptical? At least LBJ concocted the evidence to support what he wanted. These two are so arrogant they don’t even bother to do that.
The timing of this rush to an open ended war resolution is obviously driven by the need to divert the attention of the nation from other rather sticky issues that might harm them at the polls. Nasty little things like Harken, Halliburton, Enron, Global Crossing, Tyco, dramatic cuts in Medicare, the crisis in health insurance and myriad others that are extremely complex. War is simple. Peace is tough work.
I sincerely hope we have some men of the caliber of Wayne Morse and Ernest Gruening in the Congress today to stand up to the lies emanating from the executive branch. Sadly, it appears that the only thing we learn from history is that we don’t.