Friday, August 24, 2007

four kinds of lies

I try to tell the truth at this facility, and to do so without using cusswords.
Now, there is a time honored quote that is central to the theme of tonight’s commentary. In my efforts to keep this organ clean, I will use a substitute for the offending verbiage.
There are three kinds of lies. Lies, Doggone Lies, and Statistics
It is well known that you can lie with numbers just like you can lie with words. The accounting industry would collapse if this were not the case.
I had a teacher at DeKalb College with a great point. The best way to win an argument is to use statistics. The best way to get statistics is to make them up
Today we are going to look at the fourth kind of lie...history.
It is an old truism that the history of wars is written by the winners. And, they are going to make their side look good, and the other side look bad.
Arguments on history have a way of interpreting the past in a way that serves a purpose. Inconvenient facts are left out. As with statistics, the best way to get these "facts" is to make them up.
When you get older, you get to hear the stories from the recent past told. Often, there is little resemblance between the stories that are told and what you remember. The events were controversial while they were going on, so why should things be any different later?
Example A is the war in Vietnam. It was a disaster. We lost 58,000 troops. There were an estimated two million Vietnamese killed, often women and children. We lost.
Now, the revisionists are mounting a counterattack. To hear them, our troops were winning in the field, only to be stabbed in the back by the hippie protestors at home.
Now, we may have been killing more of them than they did of us (see statistics above), but that doesn't mean we were winning. The government in South Vietnam was a corrupt disaster, and it needed to succeed for us to win.
Finally, with support for the war exhausted at home, Richard Nixon finagled a deal for "Peace with Honor". The POWs came home ( most of them anyway), Richard Nixon resigned in disgrace, and the helicopters took the last Americans out of Saigon. It was not pretty.
A few days ago, President W gave a speech to the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Now, he could not have joined this organization, as he joined the National Guard to avoid service in Vietnam.
W defended our adventure in Babylon, and he used the history of 20th century wars to support his story. He tries, and the audience in Kansas City was impressed. Others were not amused.
The chief comparison of Babylon to Vietnam that W makes is the "bloodbath" that would follow an Amerikan retreat. Now, in Vietnam, those who worked with the Amerikans were not treated kindly by the Northern conquerors. This was even more pronounced in Cambodia, where the war in Vietnam spread amidst an Amerikan Air war. Maybe W wants to start bombing Iran, so they can have a bloodbath there. Fight them there so we don't have to fight them here.
In any event, Vietnam and Iraq are two different conflicts. One had drafted troops, many more Amerikan casualties, and massive protests in the streets. The other has the world’s second largest oil reserves.
We are stuck in Iraq. If we stay there is trouble. If we leave there is trouble. In another forty years, we can re write the history of this conflict.


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