Home/Rod Dreher/US Government, Lying About War, As Ever

US Government, Lying About War, As Ever

The president lying to Fox's Laura Ingraham about the Soleimani attack (Fox News)

I’m old enough to remember President Trump saying that the US had to take out Gen. Soleimani because he was threatening to blow up one embassy. Then it was four embassies. You had to figure that wasn’t true, but maybe a fib. Now we know, via NBC News, that it was a massive lie:

President Donald Trump authorized the killing of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani seven months ago if Iran’s increased aggression resulted in the death of an American, according to five current and former senior administration officials.

The presidential directive in June came with the condition that Trump would have final signoff on any specific operation to kill Soleimani, officials said.

That decision explains why assassinating Soleimani was on the menu of options that the military presented to Trump two weeks ago for responding to an attack by Iranian proxies in Iraq, in which a U.S. contractor was killed and four U.S. service members were wounded, the officials said.

The timing, however, could undermine the Trump administration’s stated justification for ordering the U.S. drone strike that killed Soleimani in Baghdad on Jan. 3. Officials have said Soleimani, the leader of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, was planning imminent attacks on Americans and had to be stopped.

Hate on me if you like, but this is what I believe: You cannot trust the United States government ever to tell the truth about war. 

Iraq, we know about. The Washington Post showed us that every administration since G.W. Bush’s has been systematically lying about the Afghanistan war. And now, Trump told a whopper about Soleimani, without even blinking. He told a vivid lie about an act of war, one that could have — and might yet — spark a massive regional conflict.  Daniel Larison called it:

The administration’s story keeps changing, because they are just making up unconvincing justifications for what they did. The president invents new excuses for the illegal assassination, and his subordinates feel obliged to follow his lead because they are implicated in his decision. The strange thing is that this administration still expects to be believed on something as important as this despite their constant lying to Congress and the public about everything else.

That’s not to say the US Government will always lie. It’s just that you cannot trust it to tell the truth, any more than you can trust the bishops to tell the truth about what’s happening in the Church, or … hell, name an institution whose leaders you implicitly trust?

What Donald Trump is doing will not cost the life of a single member of the Trump family on the battlefield. It could get quite a lot of ordinary Americans killed. If you are going to send American men and women into a war, you had better make sure they (and their families) know that their potential sacrifice is for a just and honorable cause, or at the very least a defensible one. Otherwise, non serviam.

I don’t think these people in authority — the president, and others — have any real appreciation for what their sabotage of their own credibility is going to mean in the long run. If we are going to commit an act of war, then don’t lie to us about it!

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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