Lies And War

Posted in Uncategorized by chamblee54 on August 24, 2010

The second part of this feature is a repost . It is on the subject of war,history and lies. It was written about this time three years ago. A few things have changed since then.

It is an old saying that in war, the first casualty is truth. A trip to googleland credits this phrase to Senator Hiram Johnson. He was speaking in 1918, when the USA had been induced to help the allies in World War I. While Sen. Johnson may not deserve the credit for this phrase, one part of his story is too good not to tell. He was in the Senate 27 years later when he died on August 6, 1945…the day Hiroshima was nuked.

Getting back to August 2007, the war in Babylon looked very bad. The media cheerleaders had not gotten the memo saying that the surge was working. The radio whiners were busy blaming the Democrats (Defeatocrats) for what seemed to be inevitable defeat. As it turned out, the ethnic cleansing was almost finished by this point, and the civil war cooling down.

Before W retired, the forces in Iraq negotiated a “status of forces agreement”.This agreement called for the combat forces to be withdrawn by September 2010. To the surprise of many, the last combat forces have left Iraq. The only problem is the remaining 50K troops. While they are not designated as combat troops, they can expect to see some action. Could treaties be another category of Lie?

A few weeks ago this facility put up a post about the lies/damnlies/statistics trinity. (This blog is less squeamish now about cusswords.) The original quote was attributed to Benjamin Disraeli, but there is some doubt. Perhaps the attribution of quotes is a type of lie, along with history and treaties. The list could go on and on, while noting the middle three letters of beLIEve. Perhaps all the different varieties of misinformation are what is known as damn lies.

No commentary on lies is complete without the phrase “lips moving”. While this indicates a problem with the spoken word, it does not cover the written word. One wonders how so many people can type with their fingers crossed. Which brings us to one more old saying…Believe half of what you read, and nothing that you hear.

I try to tell the truth at this facility, and to do so without using cusswords. Now, there is a time honored quote that is central to the theme of tonight’s post. In my efforts to keep this organ clean, I will use a substitute for the bad word.
There are three kinds of lies. Lies, Doggone Lies, and Statistics
It is well known that you can lie with numbers just like you can lie with words. The accounting industry would collapse if this were not the case. I had a teacher at DeKalb College with a great point
The best way to win an argument is to use statistics. The best way to get statistics is to make them up
Today we are going to look at the fourth kind of lie…history. It is an old truism that the history of wars is written by the winners. And, they are going to make their side look good.

Arguments on history have a way of interpreting the past in a way that serves a purpose. Inconvenient facts are left out. As with statistics, the best way to get these “facts” is to make them up. Since no one is around that was on the scene, you just have to believe what you want to believe.

When you get older, you get to hear the stories from the recent past told. Often, there is little resemblance between the stories that are told and what you remember. The events were controversial while they were going on, so why should things be any different later?

Example A is the war in Vietnam. It was a disaster. We lost 58,000 troops. There were an estimated two million Vietnamese killed, often women and children. We lost. Now, the revisionists are mounting a counterattack. To hear them, our troops were winning in the field, only to be stabbed in the back by the hippie protesters at home.

Now, we may have been killing more of them than they did of us (see statistics above), but that doesn’t mean we were winning. The government in South Vietnam was a corrupt disaster, and it needed to succeed for us to win.

Finally, with support for the war exhausted at home, Richard Nixon finagled a deal for “Peace with Honor”. The POWs came home ( most of them anyway), Richard Nixon later resigned in disgrace, and helicopters took the last Americans out of Saigon. It was not pretty.

A few days ago, President W gave a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Now, he could not have joined this organization, as he joined the National Guard to avoid service in Vietnam. W defended our adventure in Babylon, and he used the history of 20th century wars to support his story. He tries, and the audience in Kansas City was impressed. Others were not amused.

The chief comparison of Babylon to Vietnam that W makes is the “bloodbath” that would follow an American retreat. Now, in Vietnam, those who worked with the Americans were not treated kindly by the Northern conquerors. This was even more pronounced in Cambodia, where the war in Vietnam spread amidst an American Air war. Maybe W wants to start bombing Iran, so they can have a bloodbath there. Fight them there so we don’t have to fight them here.

In any event, Vietnam and Iraq are two different conflicts. One had drafted troops, more American casualties, and massive protests in the streets. The other has the world’s second largest oil reserves.

We are stuck in Iraq. If we stay there is trouble. If we leave there is trouble. In another forty years, we can re write the history of this conflict.

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