ShareThis Page
News Columnists

Slithering away from reality

| Sunday, Oct. 30, 2011

"No one should miscalculate America's resolve and commitment to helping support the Iraqi democracy."

— Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Oct. 23, 2011

"Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind. "

— George Orwell, May 1945

I offer up George Orwell's quote in possibly partial defense of Hillary Clinton's assertion on "Meet the Press" last Sunday that as the United States government orders the final, complete retreat from Iraq, the U.S. government remains resolved to support Iraqi democracy.

Are Clinton's words designed to make lies sound truthful, or does she actually believe things she knows to be untrue?

Her statement is undeniably untrue. Our government has quite specifically given up its "resolve and commitment" to Iraqi democracy and to our own national security interests in the region. We have given up our armed forces to resist the emerging armed forces of Iran and Turkey, and of Iraq's Kurds, Shia and Sunni militias.

In the place of U.S. armed forces as a material expression of our "resolve and commitment," Clinton offers the substitute of a "support and training mission similar to what we have in countries from Jordan to Colombia. ... We will also have a very robust diplomatic presence." This isn't "resolve and commitment." This is precisely the withdrawal of our resolve and commitment. It is, in fact, the grave digging of Iraqi democracy.

But the question raised by the Orwell quote — are Clinton's words designed to make lies sound truthful, or does she actually believe things she knows to be untrue• — goes to an even more important matter than the Obama administration's heartbreaking decision to just throw up its hands and give up, reversing its own decision of only last month to keep 3,000 troops in Iraq past the end of the year.

It goes to whether the administration — and many senior GOP politicians as well — are merely capable of deceiving the public, or whether they have succeeded in deceiving themselves on the dire circumstance in which our nation finds itself.

My fear is that politicians (and commentators as well) have been denying Washington's utter failure to confront and resolve the dire threats to our national existence for so long that we have deceived ourselves into believing the dangers do not exist — or are only on the distant horizon.

For example, what happened to the U.S. deficit and sovereign debt crisis• Only three months ago, we had a blazing -- and needed -- fight about our deficit and the raising of the debt ceiling. Then we passed a phony bill that will not remotely avoid the upcoming crisis, and both parties promptly went back to sleep -- instead of back to the mattresses.

Worse than a straight-out lie about our dangers, I suspect that Washington is succumbing to a glutinous taste for self-delusion and denial. Thus, perhaps Clinton actually believes we have maintained our "commitment and resolve" in Iraq -- even as we slither away.

George Orwell once warned, "To see what is in front of one's nose needs a constant struggle." In that struggle, too, Washington has lost its commitment and resolve.

Tony Blankley, former editorial page editor of The Washington Times, is executive vice president of Edelman public relations in Washington.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me