After escalated provocations with Mexico until he obtained the necessary pretext in 1846, President James Polk announced, “War exists,” thus explaining away how it really happened. After defeating Spain, William McKinley said he wanted to “uplift and civilize and Christianize” the Filipinos, and “by God’s grace do the very best we could by them.” But they’d already declared independence, so doing the “best” actually meant allowing the worst — killing and burning villages during a 12-year war of resistance.
In 1947, Harry Truman (image right) wanted to “assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way.” But the pledge didn’t stop him from approving CIA manipulation of elections in Greece and Italy. And when asked about a US operation to overthrow the Guatemalan government of Jacobo Arbenz in 1953, the State Department called the charges ridiculous and untrue. This saved President Eisenhower the burden of lying about it himself. In his memoirs, however, Ike stepped up, still denying that the US had anything to do with the coup.
President Johnson’s most famous lie was his 1964 announcement that two US destroyers had been attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin. This trumped up incident provided a pretext to escalate war in Vietnam. The following year, he railed about “atrocities” in the Dominican Republic. The reports weren’t true, but it gave him an excuse to occupy the country.
Nixon, of course, misled Americans about many things, from bombing Cambodia to covering up dirty tricks. But Reagan was equally adept. The Organization of Caribbean States pleaded for the 1983 US intervention in Grenada, he once claimed. Actually, the pleading came from the other side. He also repeatedly denounced the Russians for spraying toxic chemicals over Afghanistan. As it turns out, pollen-laden feces had been dropped by honeybees over Laos and Cambodia. Afghanistan wasn’t even affected.
Experts differ over whether the first war with Iraq was a set up. But there’s no dispute about George Bush’s 1988 claim that he never met Manuel Noriega, not even when he was CIA director. He was later forced to admit the truth.
Clinton certainly lied about “having sex with that woman.” But more crucial deceptions escaped much notice. Bombing a Sudanese drug factory in 1998, for example, he called it a front for nerve gas production, an assertion that proved false. More crucial, he didn’t mention that the US had been conducting a covert campaign to destabilize Sudan’s government for two years, passing on military equipment to the Sudan People’s Liberation Army. That was a touchy subject, since the guerrillas were using women and children as forced labor, mortaring urban areas, killing relief workers, and shooting down civilian airliners.
As for Bush, the full scope of his misadventures with candor is hard to cover in one short article. But it clearly started before his crusade to oust Saddam Hussein. One earlier example was his relationship with Enron’s Kenneth Lay, much closer than he chose to admit after it disastrous and bogus bookkeeping was exposed.
As the rationale for US intervention in Iraq unraveled, outrage and disbelief were expressed over the possibility that Bush and his team had “misled” Congress and the public. That leads a related question. When Bush asserted in his 2003 State of the Union address that Saddam Hussein was seeking African uranium, was he just misinformed or purposely deceiving the public?
Whichever is true, he and administration spokesmen clearly asserted that Iraq was a) responsible for the 9/11 attacks, b) directly linked to al-Qaeda, c) trying to import aluminum tubes to develop nuclear weapons, d) hiding vast stocks of chemical and biological weapons from the first Gulf War, e) capable of developing smallpox, f) obstructing weapons inspectors, and g) able to deploy weapons of mass destruction in 45 minutes. None of this turned out to be true.
Examples could certainly be added from the Obama years, perhaps starting with the denial of complicity in the overthrow of Honduras’ president early in his administration. “You can keep your plan” also comes to mind. In any case, this sordid record is meant to indicate that presidents frequently resort to fabrication and mendacity in shaping public opinion. But even impeachment isn’t likely to change that, since many of the biggest lies are embraced, at least initially, by most members of Congress, and disseminated without sufficient scrutiny.
The real problem is the presidency itself. As Historian Barbara Tuchman suggests, it has become too complex and powerful to be left to the “fallible judgment of one individual.” Yet if the past is a guide, one thing seems sure: Whether it’s Trump or someone more “normal,” presidents will continue to mislead us until more effective limits on executive power are imposed.
About the author:
Greg Guma is the Author of Dons of Time, Uneasy Empire, Big Lies, and The People’s Republic: Vermont and the Sanders Revolution.
Source: Global Research, 2016
Media narrative: Hateful protestors stormed the Macedonian parliament after an ethnic Albanian Talat Xhaferi was elected speaker for the first time.Truth: Protestors stormed the parliament because Xhaferi was declared speaker in an illegal, unconstitutional manner as part of an ongoing coup d'état. It had nothing whatsoever to do with his ethnicity.Even though Xhaferi was "elected" in an irregular manner, the US and EU have already stated they recognize his appointment. This now paves the way for ethnic Albanian parties and the smaller of two main Macedonian parties (Social Democrats) to proclaim a government without the constitutionally required go-ahead from the President of the Republic.The latter has defied ...
1917 was not a good year for any of the belligerent countries, but for the members of the Entente – France, Britain, and Russia – it was nothing less than catastrophic. The main reasons for that were the mutinies in the French army, which made the situation on the western front extremely precarious, as well as the revolution in Russia, which raised the spectre of Russia exiting the war, leaving Britain and France bereft of the ally that forced Germany to fight on two fronts. Add to this the fact that civilians as well as soldiers in France and Britain ...
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In his Orwellian September 28, 2015 speech to the United Nations, President Obama said that if democracy had existed in Syria, there never would have been a revolt against Assad. By that, he meant ISIL. Where there is democracy, he said, there is no violence or revolution.This was his threat to promote revolution, coups and violence against any country not deemed a “democracy.” In making this hardly-veiled threat, he redefined the word in the vocabulary of international politics. Democracy is the CIA’s overthrow of Mossedegh in Iran to install the Shah. Democracy is the overthrow of Afghanistan’s secular government by ...
Why has Barack Obama airdropped 50 tons of ammunition into areas that “moderate rebels” in Syria supposedly control? This is essentially the equivalent of poking the Russians directly in the eyes. Much of this ammunition will end up in the hands of those that the Russians are attempting to bomb into oblivion, and so to Russia it appears that we are attempting to make their job much harder. And of course the truth is that there aren’t really any “moderate rebels” in Syria at all. Nearly all of the groups that are fighting are made up primarily of radical jihadists ...
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The US has always been a warfare state. However, the character of US imperialist warfare has changed dramatically. For over two centuries, the US regime’s purpose for war, whether on indigenous peoples, Black people, or nations all over the world, was to expand the productive forces of capitalist exploitation. War preceded the vast profits accumulated from chattel slavery, land grab, and resource extraction in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The foundation of white supremacy and capitalism allowed the US regime to consolidate its expansion despite episodes of periodic crisis. Recent events, alongside a steady fall in the rate of capitalist profit, indicate ...
On February 5, Military Times published a report stating that Washington has failed to publicly disclose potentially thousands of lethal airstrikes conducted over several years in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan. The investigation reveals that in Afghanistan in 2016 alone, the U.S. air force carried out at least 456 bombings. The open-source report published by the Air Force Command doesn’t include these figures.According to the Military Times, the information was obtained from “Congress, American allies, military analysts, academic researchers, the media and independent watchdog groups” and it shows that much of what the Pentagon has disclosed may be misleading or simply ...
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One of the most confounding aspects of Donald Trump’s election as 45th President of the United States is that in the space of a year – indeed less than a year – a man with zero political experience has destroyed two of America’s most entrenched political dynasties: Bush and Clinton.Just pause on this for a moment, and place it in the context of someone who when he first appeared on the political stage as a candidate for the Republican nomination was met with ridicule and scorn. Consequently, a mainstream media and liberal commentators for whom politics is an exclusive club, ...
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One Hundred Years Ago, in the Spring of 1917: Why Did America Go to War in 1917?
The Unspoken War on Yemen
Orwell At The UN: Obama Re-Defines Democracy As A Country That Supports U.S. Policy
Is Barack Obama Actually Trying To Start World War III?
What is Israel’s Project in Argentina?
US Meddling in 1996 Russian Elections in Support of Boris Yeltsin
Hitler Was Financed by the Federal Reserve and the Bank of England
Is The U.S Fighting Terrorism Or Manufacturing It?
US Imperialism Wages Permanent Warfare To Prevent Its Inevitable Collapse
U.S. conceals thousands of airstrikes in Middle East
Confronting the West With its Responsibilities is Essential!
NATO’s “Drang Nach Suden”
The US Aggression on Syria and the Principles of a “Just War”
Declassified Documents Reveal Pentagon’s 1950s Planned Nuclear Holocaust
The CIA and Greater Albania: The Origins of the US Role in the Balkans
Cold War Then, Cold War Now
Death And Destruction In Iraq, Extensive US War Crimes: Apocalypse In Mosul In The Guise Of Bombing ISIS
Fake News: A U.S. Media Specialty
Trump, Brexit And The Collapse Of The Liberal Order