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Just as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, candidates for public office throughout history have lied to the voters. Some are “white lies” or embellishments about their past, such as Joe Biden’s serial lies regarding a host of fabricated tales, or Sen. Blumenthal’s (D-CT) lies about serving in Vietnam. He said he “misspoke,” a euphemism for lying, about his military service in the US Marine Corps Reserve. The list of political candidates lying about their past could fill a lengthy book.
This brings us to the latest lies of a political candidate, Republican congressman elect George Santos, who told some whoopers during his campaign. The bottom line: George Santos told lies but no one was killed unlike the following lies I have heard since the 1960s by presidents and other administration officials who caused the deaths of millions of Americans, Southeast Asians and Middle Easterners.
What therefore is more egregious, being a bullshit artist or lying to start undeclared wars that have resulted in widespread death and destruction? Lying in a political campaign
about your background is inexcusable but lying to start a war is morally reprehensible and a crime against humanity. The following is not a comprehensive list. Feel free to add to the list in your comments.
Let’s begin with LBJ who campaigned in 1964 as the peace candidate, declaring American boys are not going to fight in the jungles of Southeast Asia. And then he lied that the North Vietnamese attacked again an American vessel in the Gulf of Tonkin, which required a congressional resolution to respond to North Vietnamese “aggression.” Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin resolution and a year later the massive Vietnam military began.
LBJ lied repeatedly to the American people and the world about the situation in southeast Asia, which led to the deaths of more 58,000 American servicemen and possibly as many 3.5 million Vietnamese, Laotians and Cambodians perished. In short, LBJ was a mass murderer as was Defense Secretary McNamara and other administration officials and members of Congress who supported the war by voting to fund the military intervention in South Vietnam.
Next on the list of presidents who lied is Richard Nixon. He claimed during the 1968 presidential campaign he had a “secret plan” to end the Vietnam War. There was no such plan. The war dragged on even after the Paris Peace talks, which didn’t begin until 1973, were underway.
The two Bush presidencies, George, H.W. and George W. gave us Desert Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom—military interventions in the Middle East based on lies. According to Scott Lazarowitz, “When Saddam considered invading Kuwait, he met with then-U.S. ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, and asked her what kind of response the U.S. would have to such an invasion.
“In their discussion, according to the New York Times, Glaspie stated, “…we have no opinion on the Arab-Arab conflicts, like your border disagreement with Kuwait. I was in the American Embassy in Kuwait during the late 60’s. The instruction we had during this period was that we should express no opinion on this issue and that the issue is not associated with America. (Sec. of State) James Baker has directed our official spokesmen to emphasize this instruction.” (More here.)
“Apparently, Saddam Hussein took those words as a green light to invade Kuwait.”
In other words, despite the American Iraq ambassador informing Saddam the US had no dog in the Iraq-Kuwait dispute, the Bush administration was planning behind the scenes a military intervention in the region.
According to one investigator, “an estimated total civilian fatalities at about 3,500 from bombing, and some 100,000 from the war’s other effects. In 2002, the estimated the total number of Iraqi deaths caused directly and indirectly by the Gulf War to be between 142,500 and 206,000, including 100,000–120,000 military deaths, 20,000–35,000 civilian deaths in civil war and 15,000–30,000 refugee deaths….[in addition] 190 coalition troops were killed by Iraqi fire during the war, 113 of whom were American, out of 358 coalition deaths. Another 44 soldiers were killed and 57 wounded by friendly fire. 145 soldiers died of exploding munitions or non-combat accidents.”
Moreover, the so-called Gulf Syndrome and depleted uranium caused hundreds of Americans to suffer painful illnesses.
Like father like son, President G.W. Bush and his VP, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleezza Rice and other administration officials lied about Saddam having weapons of mass destruction, and thus an “imminent threat” to the US and our allies. All lies. No WMDs and how could a third-rate military power be a threat to us or European nations, or for that matter other Middle East nations? The Iraq military was a paper tiger.
According to the Wikipedia entry, “The costs of the 2003–2010 Iraq War are often contested, as academics and critics have unearthed many hidden costs not represented in official estimates. The most recent major report on these costs come from Brown University in the form of the Costs of War, which totaled just over $1.1 trillion. The United States Department of Defense‘s direct spending on Iraq totaled at least $757.8 billion, but also highlighting the complementary costs at home, such as interest paid on the funds borrowed to finance the wars.”
Depending on the source and methodology there may have been as many as 600,000 deaths during the Iraq War (2003-2008). US casualties: 4,431 deaths and nearly 32,000 wounded.
Meanwhile, the Afghan war courtesy of President G.W. Bush, which lasted 20 years, “killed an estimated 176,000–212,000+ people, including 46,319 civilians. While more than 5.7 million former refugees returned to Afghanistan after the 2001 invasion, by the time the Taliban returned to power in 2021, 2.6 million Afghans remained refugees, while another 4 million were internally displaced.” The war was supported by the Washingtonians lock, stock and barrel, and undoubtedly the greatest military failure in US history.
And on the 20th anniversary of 9/11, “Nearly 20 years after the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan, the cost of its global war on terror stands at $8 trillion and 900,000 deaths, according to a new report from the Costs of War project at Brown University.”
The lies about war do not end with the military. The lies about Covid, the lockdowns and the “safe and effective” vaccine were based on shoddy science and misinformation. For a collection of essays about Covid and its effects on public health and the economy, see the articles tab of the Brownstone Institute.
And the military aid the US is lavishing on Ukraine that is approaching $100 billion is obscene based on lie that Russia’s neighbor is a beacon of democracy and freedom. Therefore, we are told the Biden administration and the Washingtonians in Congress must support a proxy war against a nuclear armed nation.
The Washingtonians should welcome George Santos with open arms. He is a liar just like them, but his lies have not caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands human beings.
Murray Sabrin, PhD, is emeritus professor of finance, Ramapo College of New Jersey. Dr. Sabrin is considered a “public intellectual” for writing about the economy in scholarly and popular publications. His new book, The Finance of Health Care: Wellness and Innovative Approaches to Employee Medical Insurance (Business Expert Press, Oct. 24, 2022), provides business decision makers with the information they need to match the optimal health care plan with the culture of their workforce, and his other BEP publication, Navigating the Boom/Bust Cycle: An Entrepreneur’s Survival Guide (October 2021), provides decision makers with tools needed to help manage their businesses during the business cycle. Sabrin’s autobiography, From Immigrant to Public Intellectual: An American Story, was published in November, 2022.