Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, and now Trump

Politicians lie.  Democrats, Republican, Independents, Tea Party, Libertarians, they ALL lie.  Everyone knows it. It’s been a running joke for as long as people have been governed.

Donald Trump and his gang take it to a whole new level.

That, in itself, is not such a big problem; most news outlets leap on every lie that dribbles out of these people and quickly expose the falsehood.  The problem is, Trump’s supporters choose to believe his lies, automatically label any dissent as bogus, and stare blindly at ‘facts’ which they claim have been manufactured by the media! Under other circumstances, I’d be perfectly willing to let these people stew in their fantasy worlds – but they’re running the country now, and their fantasies are intruding on our reality!

The thing is this:  Democracy depends on discussion – and there’s no discussion with these people!  When one side labels everything that comes out of the mouths of the other side as a lie, fake-news, or propaganda, discussion devolves into “I’m right, you’re wrong, and that’s that!”

We’ve been heading this way for a while now. The GOP leadership are all wealthy, but they cultivate followers who are poor, ill-educated, and disinclined to accept any opinion but their own.  They believe in religious freedom – for Christians.  They believe in the science that makes their TVs work, but not evolution, and, increasingly, not in vaccines. They believe in free-trade – which they define as “Other countries can buy our goods, but we won’t be buying theirs!”  They’d be outraged if anyone told them they couldn’t marry as they see fit – and refuse to tolerate same-sex marriage.  They raged against Obama-care, spent 8 years obstructing the government in protest of it – and now say they really just want to improve  it.  They think they can just ignore China, let Japan take care of themselves, ignore Russia’s intervention in Syria, and completely forget that they started a war (under false pretenses) and sixteen years later, Americans are still being killed, because they never bothered to say what constituted victory – and, obviously, America can never accept defeat!

That last bit is perhaps the most frightening.

I’m a former military officer. US Military doctrine is defined in Joint Publication 1: Doctrine for the Armed Forces of the United States. That document defines how we go about conducting war.  It says, among other things, that every military operation should have a clearly defined goal – a mission.  It’s what you tell the privates they’re fighting for. It defines how you know you’ve won. It defines when the fighting – and dying – should stop.

George W. Bush committed us to a war that had no mission. Americans were pissed about 9/11 and we all wanted revenge.  I’m sure he wanted revenge, too – but revenge is only a mission if you intend to totally annihilate the other side.  Annihilation can only be achieved if you can clearly define who your enemy is.

Viet Nam taught us what it was like when you couldn’t tell the enemy from the people you were defending.  Bush ignored that, and committed us to battle in a region where no one wears a uniform, and everyone carries a gun. That particular region was previously invaded by the full might of the Red Army – and a few CIA operatives taught the inhabitants how to defeat a modern army!  The Russians were there for ten years, before finally accepting that they couldn’t be successful.

Bush ignored that as well. We’ve been there sixteen years.

The pretext for invading Iraq was the claim that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction.    UN weapons inspectors in Iraq had already reported that there were none. Bush ignored this and committed us to an invasion. They found no WMDs – but, “Hey, we found Saddam!”

4,424 of our soldiers died for that. 31,952 of our soldiers were wounded in action to achieve that.

Desert Storm, under Bush’s father, had totally destroyed the Iraqi military, and most of it’s infrastructure.  Storming’ Norman wisely stopped short of entering Baghdad, and Bush senior wisely refrained from ordering him to take the city, because both knew that what had been a largely bloodless campaign would become a bloody nightmare in that city. All our advantages would be nullified there. The enemy, dressed just like the inhabitants, could not be identified until they opened fire – and in an urban environment, it’s just plain suicide to concede the first shot to the enemy!  More importantly, there was no need to take the city – Desert Storm did have a well-defined mission:  drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait, and destroy their ability to wage war.  Both of those objectives had been met.

Bush senior had, at one time, been Director of Central Intelligence.  He knew the value of knowing the facts, the wisdom of learning the lessons of the past, the foolishness of wishful thinking, and the value of American lives. Bush junior, ignored all of that.

“But, hey, we got Saddam!”

Then Afghanistan. 2,386 US soldiers killed. 20,049 wounded in action. 1,173, US civilian contractors killed. Sixteen years of warfare. Widespread PTSD in returning vets. The VA, utterly unable to deal with the sheer numbers of vets who needed help.

“But, hey, we got Bin Ladin!”

Obama recovered the economy that Bush junior wrecked.  Trump’s insistence on pulling out of our trade agreements threatens to reverse that. His insistence that he’ll build a wall on the Mexican border – and make Mexico finance it – has pissed off Mexico, and the Mexican President. His insistence of pulling out of NAFTA threatens to damage not just the American economy, but those of Canada and Mexico as well.

During interviews soon after the election, he was asked “how will Americans know their economy is better?”  his reply was “I’ll tell them!



~ by dourscot on January 26, 2017.

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