Tuesday, October 12, 2010

They lie reflexively

On Friday, US special forces attempted to rescue Linda Norgrove, a UK aid worker held hostage in Afghanistan. They failed, and she died. Initially the military claimed that she had been killed by her captors during the rescue. Now it has emerged that she was likely killed accidentally by her rescuers. Faced with a dead hostage, the US and UK lied reflexively in an effort to protect their reputation and paint her captors as (greater) monsters.

As the Independent editorial linked above points out, this isn't just wrong - its also stupid. Lies get discovered, trivial ones trivially so. And every time the government lies and is found out, trust in it decreases. If the UK and US governments want to get their citizens to believe in and support their war in Afghanistan, then consistently lying to them about it is exactly the wrong way to do it. But despite this, they just can't break the habit of deceit. Tomorrow or next week or next month they'll bomb another wedding party, lie and claim it was a group of militants, and have their deceit revealed when a journalist interviews witnesses and survivors. And they'll wonder why no-one supports their war anymore.

Unfortunately, their solution to that is likely to be more lies rather than less.