Master of Jurisprudence in Indian Law - University of Tulsa College of Law
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Opinion
Mark Trahant: Governments lie because politicians lie


"Governments lie because politicians lie. The proof comes in mirror images when 60-second TV spots confirm the "other" candidate as the one lying.

But what is interesting to me is the way politicians lie: clinging to facts without context and narrowing complicated issues to single sentences.

This war (actually, almost any war) is a great example. But over time, truth seems to rise to the surface. A poll last week by Time magazine/Oprah Winfrey Show shows that more than half of all Americans now say President Bush "deliberately misled" the country when it made its case for going to war. The same number who said they were misled -- 52 percent -- also called the decision to go to war wrong.

What if the Iraq war had been sold differently?

Consider the case based on what we now know. The president tells the country: This is complicated, but we think the world would be better without Saddam Hussein. We want to create a new Middle East, a kind of democracy project. We know it will cost a lot of lives. We know it will cause chaos both within Iraq and throughout the region. We won't make a lot of progress, at least for a long time. We'll need tens of thousands of troops for a decade or more. We're willing to invest billions of dollars on this project. We also think this will help prevent terrorism (even though Iraq had no direct connection with 9/11). And on top of all that, this enterprise is risky. It might not work.

Nations would rarely go to war with all of the facts so clearly spelled out. Especially if you live in a democracy because the political cost of telling the truth is so high. We have created a system where politicians are rewarded for essentially not telling the truth."

Get the Story:
Mark Trahant: It's time for governmental truth -- no lie (The Seattle Post-Intelligencer 10/15)

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