Slithering away from reality
“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 untrueâ¢ — 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 crisisâ¢ 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.