Donald Trump certainly lies more often, and sometimes for the most trivial or ego-driven reasons. But presidential prevaricating is a common tactic dating back to the nation’s early days.
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.
The original source of this article is Global Research
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Many articles in the US press have speculated at length in an attempt to define a new ideology called “Putinism.” The pieces serve as an attempt to fit Putin into an outdated Cold War narrative, as if some new ideology in the Russian Federation is playing the role that Marxism-Leninism once played in the Soviet Union, though the current Russian constitution forbids this.
The notable leaders of history are rarely ideologues. History judges people mainly by what they achieve, not what they write or say. As Chinese President Xi Jinping recently put it: “The worth of any plan is in its implementation.”
Putin has continued to play a specific role in the history of his country and the world. It is in his role as a leader of Russia that we can really define “Putinism.” However, when examining his achievements, Putin’s role and methods are not so different from those utilized by ...
USAID is spending $300,000 to fight traditional Christian morality in the Republic of Macedonia (a href=”http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-367912520/stock-photo-puzzle-with-the-national-flag-of-macedonia-and-dollar-banknote-concept.html?src=1NQf52M43o22eQ682DptgQ-1-66″>esfera/Shutterstock).
A reader passes along a government document putting out bids for a contract. Here’s the top of the document:
Apparently the (former Yugoslav) Republic of Macedonia, a small Balkan nation that emerged from the breakup of Yugoslavia, is insufficiently progressive on LGBT issues. So the American government is spending $300,000 to undermine the traditional Orthodox Christian culture of the country. Excerpts from the document (emphases mine):
Macedonia has ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Human Rights Convention. Through ratification of these human rights treaties, Macedonia has assumed obligations and duties under international law to respect, to protect, and to fulfil human rights. Despite the adoption of international human rights principles, which are incorporated in domestic legislation, Macedonia has made little progress towards meeting European Union criteria in strengthening the rule of law and respect for human rights according ...
The United States has what is called a “special relationship” with Israel. Just one problem with this: The U.S. is supporting neo-Nazis in Ukraine.
How can the U.S. be “pro-Israel” if it is assisting and training anti-Semites? And how is it that the U.S. supports neo-Nazi extremists today even after 6 million Jews were targeted and methodically murdered by Nazis during WWII?
Pentagon officials announced that U.S. troops from the 173rd Airborne will deploy to Ukraine in March to help build the Ukrainian National Guard. The Pentagon neglected to mention that prominent members of the Ukrainian National Guard include the Azov battalion, a leading neo-Nazi group formed in 2014.
In addition to sending U.S. troops, Washington has already sent heavy military equipment and has earmarked $19 million for Ukrainian forces.
Azov is “run by the extremist Patriot of Ukraine organization, which considers Jews and other minorities sub-human,” and was founded by Andriy Biletsky, who ...
The conditionality of the Soviet Union’s agreement to allow East Germany to be taken by West Germany and for the Cold War to end, was that NATO would not expand «one inch to the east». This was the agreement that was approved by the Russian President of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, a great man and a subsequent hero to democrats around the world.
He agreed then to end the Soviet Union and abandon communism and thus to end the entire Cold War; he agreed to this because he had been promised that NATO would expand not «one inch to the east,» or «one inch eastward,» depending upon how the promise was translated and understood — but it has the same meaning, no matter how it was translated. He trusted American President George Herbert Walker Bush, whose friend and Secretary of State James Baker made this promise to Gorbachev. With this ...
Exclusive: Few Americans understand the ugly history behind the Nazi-affiliated movements that have gained substantial power in today’s U.S.-backed Ukrainian regime. Western propaganda has made these right-wing extremists the “good guys” versus the Russian “bad guys,” as Jonathan Marshall explains.
By Jonathan Marshall
The latest issue of Foreign Policy magazine, one of the leading journals in its field, offers a two-page photo essay on “what to see, do, and buy” in Lviv, a picturesque city in the Western Ukraine. “Amid the turmoil that has rocked Ukraine over the past two years,” the article gushes, “Lviv has stood firmly as a stronghold of national culture, language, and identity.”
That’s one way of putting it. Another, less charitable way would be to note that Lviv has for nearly a century been a breeding ground of extreme Ukrainian nationalism, spawning terrorist movements, rabid anti-Semitism, and outright pro-Nazi political organizations that continue to pollute the country’s politics.
Sen. John ...
Historically and intuitively, Russia has fought for the survival of humanity. Of course, things are not always pronounced or defined in such terms. However, already on several occasions, this enormous country has stood up against the most mighty and evil forces that have threatened the very survival of our Planet.
During the Second World War, the Soviet people, mainly Russians, sacrificed at least 25 million men, women and children, in the end defeating Nazism. No other country in modern history has undergone more.
Right after that victory, Russia, alongside China and later Cuba, embarked on the most awesome and noble project of all times: the systematic dismantling of Western colonialism. All over the world oppressed masses stood up against European and North American imperialist barbarity, and it was the Soviet Union that was ready to give them a beacon of hope, as well as substantial financial, ideological and military support.
As one oppressed ...
September 17, 2015 "Information Clearing House" - Over recent months the situation in the Mediterranean has served as a dramatic reminder of what the leaders of Europe have tried hard to forget. The Syrian crisis has reached Europe. Although a lot of talk has been made over numbers and percentages of refugees that every country may or may not accept, let’s not forget that behind those numbers and the showy emotionalism of the politicians hides the ugly side of world politics.
The plans to overthrow the “annoying” regimes in the Middle East began at the time when the war hawks of Washington and their European allies prepared the first Iraqi war.
In a 2007 speech, US General Wesley Clark recounted a conversation he had back in 1991 with the then Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz. During that talk, the Secretary told the General that the Pentagon had already drawn plans in ...
Unification of Europe has brought about radical new divisions within Europe. The most significant split is between the people and their political leaders.
The June 23 British majority vote to leave the European Union has made strikingly evident the division between the new ruling class that flourishes in the globalized world without borders and all the others who are on the receiving end of policies that destroy jobs, cut social benefits, lower wages and reject as obsolete national customs, not least the custom of democratic choice, all to make the world safe for international investment capital.
Actually, the lines are not quite so clear-cut. Political choices never correspond completely to economic interests, and the ideological factor intervenes to blur the class lines. Globalization is not merely a process of economic integration regulated by flows of capital, which is deepening the polarization between rich and poor in the Western countries. It is also ...
Liberal Democratic Party calls on to all Russian citizens to boycott Ukrainian confectionery company “Roshen”, owned by the country’s President Peter Poroshenko.
Ukrainian authorities continue punitive operation against its own citizens! Now abandoning their country in thousands for refugees fleeing to Russia, mostly old men, women and children. People are forced to leave all their belongings for years! Horror, fear, hunger and humiliation – that is what has prepared Kiev junta civilians southeast. From the illusory hopes that the election of President Ukraine peace returns, no trace – she melted like candy chocolate baron Poroshenko. Having full power, he actually gave the nod to the destruction of innocent people by declaring them bandits, separatists and extremists.
Killed Russian-speaking civilians in Donbass region by Kiev Nazi junta
Russian Liberal Democratic Party urges citizens to support the civilians of southeast. Each of us can now express their civic position by taking part in fundraising for ...
Imagine – the European Union were to collapse tomorrow – or any day soon for that matter. Europeans would dance in the streets. The EU has become a sheer pothole of fear and terror: Economic sanctions – punishment, mounting militarization, the abolition of civil rights for most Europeans. A group of unelected technocrats, representing 28 countries, many of them unfit to serve in their own countries’ political system, but connected well enough to get a plum job in Brussels – are deciding the future of Europe. In small groups and often in secret chambers they decide the future of Europe.
Take the TTIP – under pressure from their masters in Washington, behind closed doors under utmost secrecy – and most likely against their own personal good – a small group of European Commission (EC) delegates without scruples, without any respect for their co-citizens, without consideration for their children, grand-children and their ...
“There was no battle and no resistance (and no Egyptians). The first conquerors killed from eighty to a hundred Arabs [including] women and children. The children were killed by smashing of their skulls with sticks. Is it possible to shout about Deir Yassin and be silent about something much worse?” For the first time ever, a letter quoting one of the Israeli soldiers who were part of the Al-Dawayima massacre in October 1948 is published in full.
On Friday, February 5th 2016, Haaretz published an article in Hebrew by Israeli historian Yair Auron, which covers one of the biggest massacres of 1948. The massacre is of Al Dawayima, west of Al-Khalil (which is often referred to as Hebron). In a 2004 interview with Haaretz, Israeli historian Benny Morris refers to this as a massacre of “hundreds”.
After the massacre, a letter was sent to the editor of the leftist affiliated newspaper Al-Hamishmar, but ...
The following timeline describes just a few of the hundreds of atrocities and crimes committed by the CIA. (1)
CIA operations follow the same recurring script. First, American business interests abroad are threatened by a popular or democratically elected leader. The people support their leader because he intends to conduct land reform, strengthen unions, redistribute wealth, nationalize foreign-owned industry, and regulate business to protect workers, consumers and the environment. So, on behalf of American business, and often with their help, the CIA mobilizes the opposition. First it identifies right-wing groups within the country (usually the military), and offers them a deal: “We’ll put you in power if you maintain a favorable business climate for us.” The Agency then hires, trains and works with them to overthrow the existing government (usually a democracy). It uses every trick in the book: propaganda, stuffed ballot boxes, purchased elections, extortion, blackmail, sexual intrigue, false stories ...
One of the consequences of the geopolitical changes that has come to characterize modern civil society has been the surge in popularity of paramilitary units across Europe. This phenomenon is particularly observable in the Baltic States.
The Lithuanian Riflemen’ Union is a telling example. Established in 1919, the Union has become very popular in the past few years; its number has grown significantly. Now it has around 8,000 members up from 6,000 two years ago.
Trained by military personnel and falling under the responsibility of the defence ministry, the Union serves the clear purpose of supporting the regular army’s capabilities and act as an additional deterrent against external aggression.
As a result of volatile security environment, the enthusiasm for this voluntary defence organisation has been welcomed by the government as a “valuable contribution” to national defence.
In December, 2015 the Union was granted automatic weapons in an agreement with the Lithuanian Ministry of ...
A year ago, at a closed-doors meeting between the USA and EU officials and the leaders of the four major parties of FYROM in Strasbourg, a route map for the resolution of the protracted political crisis was agreed on (or rather imposed). The roots of this political crisis are to be found outside FYROM: it is actually more a confrontation by proxy between “the West”, which supports the opposition, and Russia, which is trying to maintain its influence in the region. In conjunction with the public discontent at government policies and the escalating corruption, the negotiations have contributed to sharpening the crisis, which has become acute.
The route map imposed on the closed-doors meeting between US representatives and the EU and local political leaders was supposed to lead to elections in April 2016. But the elections were postponed to 5th June 2016, in order to be “better prepared”. As it turned ...
Barack Obama is the first two-term American president to have presided over war every day of his tenure in office. He bequeaths to a Trump administration ongoing operations in Afghanistan, continuing drone strikes in northwest Pakistan, the consequences of the 2011 destruction of Libya, the instigation of civil war in Syria, US sponsorship of the brutal Saudi interventions in Yemen, and the civil conflicts in Ukraine, the Caucuses and across Africa.
Obama’s blood-soaked legacy, however, is most graphic in Iraq. There is a bitter irony in this, given the fact that he was elected in 2008 largely on the basis of claimed opposition to the Bush administration’s invasion and occupation of the country, and his boasts, after continuing the war for nearly three more years after his inauguration, to have ended it with the formal withdrawal of US forces in December of 2011.
Obama launched new military attacks in Iraq following ISIS’ ...
BELGRADE – NATO soldiers should in future have free transit through Serbia, use its military infrastructure and be “protected” with a special status while staying in the country, writes “Vecernje Novosti”.
This is only one of the obligations Serbia committed to with individual action plan (IPAP), whose entry into force was officially marked by the Foreign Minister Ivica Dacic and Defense Minister Bratislav Gasic.
IPAP, among other things, involves signing of the so-called SOFA agreement (which Serbia already has with the US) with NATO member states, which regulates border crossing and immunity level for the members of Alliance while they are passing through Serbia or are residing in the country, as well as access to military facilities.
Serbia also committed to open the regional training center “Jug” near Bujanovac for all the members of the Partnership for Peace and NATO, to gradually harmonize its regulation in the field of defense with the EU ...
Vladimir Putin has harmed no American. Russia has not stood in the way of any American’s dream. As for the billionaires though, those American and British money bags, the Russians are posing an insurmountable hurdle for their investments. And we all know nothing can stand in the way of their progress. Unfortunately for the human race, mediocrity cannot rule either. Here is a prophesy as real as any newsreel you will view today, the “end all” conclusion for American “exceptionalism”.
Do you know where Crimea is? Seriously now, a gaff by presidential hopeful Gary Johnson the other day proved once and for all, not even educated Americans have a very big “mental map” of our world. I was a geography student first and teacher second, and I can tell you categorically that very few of America’s leaders know US history and geography, let alone world names and places. If Johnson had ...
We all know how the story goes. The Golan Heights is Syrian territory that has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War. It was then controversially annexed in 1981, despite the UN calling the efforts “null”, “void” and “without international legal effect”. Today it is still internationally and legally recognised as Syrian land, but Israel persists with its possession.
Of course, such persistence can prove to be quite lucrative when the land is abundant in resources – especially land as fertile as the Syrian Golan – a generous source of gushing waters and game changing oil reserves.
In fact, the Golan Heights contributes a quenching one-third of Israel’s entire water supply. Its catchments leading to the Jordan River and Lake Kinneret – Israel’s main water source – receive long bouts of heavy rainfall, particularly during the colder months and occasionally during stormy season in the summer.
But the Golan Heights does ...
The facile and indiscriminate use of the term fascism has led to a widespread misunderstanding and misuse of its meaning. Asked to define fascism, most people would respond in terms such as dictatorship, anti-Semitism, mass hysteria, efficient propaganda machine, mesmerizing oratory of a psychopathic leader, and the like.
Such a pervasive misconception of the meaning of the term fascism is not altogether fortuitous. It is largely because of a longstanding utilitarian misrepresentation of the term. Fascism is deliberately obfuscated in order to sanitize capitalism. Ideologues, theorists and opinion-makers of capitalism have systematically shifted the systemic sins of fascism from market/capitalist failures to individual or personal failures.
Thus, the origins, the rise and the ravages of the classic European fascism are blamed largely on Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, not the socio-economic circumstances that gave rise to those instrumentally “useful” characters. An obvious flaw of this interpretation of fascism is that it cannot ...
Chris Hedges is on vacation and will return to writing his weekly Truthdig column on Sept. 5. While he is on break, we are republishing some of his past columns. This one originally appeared Nov. 10, 2008
We live in two Americas. One America, now the minority, functions in a print-based, literate world. It can cope with complexity and has the intellectual tools to separate illusion from truth. The other America, which constitutes the majority, exists in a non-reality-based belief system. This America, dependent on skillfully manipulated images for information, has severed itself from the literate, print-based culture. It cannot differentiate between lies and truth. It is informed by simplistic, childish narratives and clichés. It is thrown into confusion by ambiguity, nuance and self-reflection. This divide, more than race, class or gender, more than rural or urban, believer or nonbeliever, red state or blue state, has split the country into radically ...
“Putinism” In American History: Lincoln, Roosevelt, And The Fight Against ISIS
America’s Culture War Mercenaries
Fact Sheet: How Can The U.S. Be “Pro-Israel” While It Supports Anti-Semites In Ukraine?
How America Double-Crossed Russia and Shamed West
Nazi Roots of Ukraine’s Conflict
Why The West Can Never Defeat Or “Forgive” Russia
The Dirty Role Of The West In Syria
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
Boycott bloody President!
The Collapse of the European Union: Return to National Sovereignty and to Happy Europeans?
‘Barbarism by an educated and cultured people’ — Dawayima massacre was worse than Deir Yassin
A Timeline Of CIA Atrocities (Up To 1993)
Emergence of “Right Sector” in Lithuania?
West Rules Macedonia (FYROM) as a US-EU Protectorate, To Put A Check on Russian Influence in the Balkans
Mosul, Iraq and Obama’s Legacy of War
Serbia Gives Access To Military Facilities, Special Status To NATO Soldiers
The Empire of Mediocrity and the End of the World
The Occupied Golan Heights: How Israel Thrives from Syria’s Natural Resources
Distorting Fascism to Sanitize Capitalism