Seven Years of (Unconvincing) Lies In 39 Minutes: A Primer

May 13th, 2010 by Andy in War In Iraq, Afghanistan & The Mideast

This op-ed from noted historian Dr. Matthew Feldman published in truthout serves as a sad reminder of how easy it is to politically bank on the currency of lies today in what Gore Vidal has accurately described as “the United States of Amnesia.” Plus, anyone that includes segments from Stanley Kubrick films in their essay is most likely going to be worth reading.

No wonder the US military said the tape was lost .

Those murderous images leave you gasping for air like a punch in the gut at boot camp. Then you hear a bit of cackling, some banter, and more shooting. Dahr Jamail reported in Truthout that a dozen people were killed in the massacre, including two Reuters news staff, with another two children wounded but (amazingly) alive. The US troops sounded as if they were having fun, like aiming for high-score on an arcade game.

Since war and occupation have killed far more in excess of one million Iraqis in this illegal war (and rendered another few million others homeless), the July 2007 events don’t add up to much. An Apache gunship using sauntering Iraqis for target practice, then blasting a vanload of rescuers and children trying to help a wounded, writhing man as an encore. Big deal. Happens all the time in Iraq. Except that this was recorded. And not lost, thanks the courageous Wikileaks’ anonymous source.

Cue momentary hand-wringing by the mainstream media - a bit too much force here, maybe a logistical failure there? - then back to news-as-titillation for us all.

So it goes in Iraq.


Now entering the seventh year of “pacification” in Iraq, these fictions are only getting worse. Not in terms of morality, mind you - that Rubicon was crossed even before this illegal invasion was launched - but these aren’t even good lies any longer. These are lazy lies. Indeed, these are the worst kinds of lies, thought Oscar Wilde, so artless as to be disbelieved when expressed.

[Oscar] Wilde’s wit was legendary, at least until Europe’s self-immolation attempt during the Great War adjudged it too shallow. Interwar society had little to laugh about - or just took itself altogether too seriously, as Wilde might retort. Fittingly, his celebrated dialogue [from] “The Decay of Lying,” jibed that politicians “never rise beyond the level of misrepresentation, and actually condescend to prove, to discuss, to argue. How different from the temper of the true liar, with his frank, fearless statements, his superb irresponsibility, his healthy, natural disdain of proof of any kind! After all, what is a fine lie?”

A fine lie? At 120 years since its publication in Victorian England, I doubt our politicians know any longer, if they even knew in Wilde’s day. Given recent evidence, since our military certainly can’t tell the difference between a news camera and a rocket launcher, asking them for comment is about as useful as asking Bin Laden (remember him?) about his views on the recent passage of US health care reform. With both, you can only get propaganda. Bad propaganda.


The stories of late have all the imagination of a tired and stupid bureaucracy simply going through the motions. In the early days, at least I could watch the humorous lies of Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf - the Orwellian Iraqi information minister during the 2003 invasion, also known as  ”Comical Ali” - to soften the blow. His imaginative creations were the only funny part of a “liberation” that never, at any time, had truth on its side.

And what’s worse, the lies these days are mirthless. They are no more than dead air, stale and lifeless. They are stillborn lies.

Of course, lies launched us into Operation Iraqi Freedom in the first place. Remember those silly Uranium tubes from Niger, that spectral WMD? Deception, moreover, has kept us afloat when soggy, from a fish-hooked “Coalition of the Willing” to the “bad apples” floating around at Abu Ghraib. Today, under a new administration, also claiming to be leaving Iraq at some point this century, our pack of lies has simply been reshuffled and dealt to us again. No need for new cards here; our war (cheer)leaders are counting on America’s willful ignorance and moral abeyance regarding Iraq.

Read The Complete Essay

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