George Santos, the U.S. Military, and Lying

W.J. Astore

Politicians are known liars; military officers are supposed to put integrity first

Newly elected Congressman George Santos of New York has become the butt of many jokes about his serial lying. Santos lied about pretty much everything: his education, his religion, his parents, his work background. It’s hard to say what he didn’t lie about. So far, he has survived because the Republican Party has stood behind him but also because Americans collectively expect politicians to lie. Another lying politician? Say it ain’t so, Joe!

George Santos is a symptom of a much larger disease: a lack of honor, a lack of shame, in America. Honor, truth, integrity, simply don’t seem to matter, or matter much, in America today. What matters is making money, getting ahead, gaining power, at any price. Rarely are liars called to account, especially in politics, where everything is spin.

But how do you have a democracy where there is no truth?

As much as George Santos has been lampooned (here in a funny segment by Bill Maher), as many times as he’s been called on to quit, one group of Americans is never called to account for their lies: U.S. military leaders.

George Santos is estranged from the truth—but he’s not the only one. He also makes dubious hand gestures, but that’s a story for another day 

U.S. military leaders appeared before Congress to testify the Iraq War was being won. They appeared before Congress to testify the Afghan War was being won. They talked of “progress,” of corners being turned, of Iraqi and Afghan forces being successfully trained and ready to assume their duties as U.S. forces withdrew. As events showed, it was all spin. All lies.

Where is the accountability? The Congressional hearings? The calls for those military leaders to explain themselves?

Of course, it wasn’t just the U.S. military but other sectors of the U.S. government that lied. Peter Van Buren’s book, “We Meant Well,” documents the lies and exaggerated stories he was pressured to sell as a member of the State Department working with U.S. military units in Iraq. Going along with the lies got you promoted. Trying to tell the truth, as Van Buren did, earned him pariah status and got him forced into retirement at State after a tense fight with his superiors, up to and including Hillary Clinton.

The Afghan War papers, released by the Washington Post in 2019, revealed the systemic lying of U.S. military leaders about that war. Even as they spoke publicly of progress and corners being turned, these same leaders spoke privately of lack of progress and dead ends. It was exactly those “private” concerns that should have been made public. 

As the Washington Post put it in 2019: A confidential trove of government documents obtained by The Washington Post reveals that senior U.S. officials failed to tell the truth about the war in Afghanistan throughout the 18-year campaign, making rosy pronouncements they knew to be false and hiding unmistakable evidence the war had become unwinnable.

Prolonging wars based on lies is far more serious than the headline-grabbing sins of Santos. U.S. troops paid for these lies with their lives, as did the peoples of Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere. Again, where is the accountability in a U.S. military that allegedly prides itself on its integrity?

In fact, there were officers with integrity, like Matthew Hoh, who served in the Marine Corps before he joined the State Department. Hoh resigned from State in 2009 because he knew plans to “surge” in Afghanistan were wrongheaded and that reports of progress were false. Privately, his superiors agreed with most of his critique. Publicly, they continued to speak of victory being in sight, just as their predecessors had done during the Vietnam War.

Indeed, Hoh’s honesty and courage created a rare opportunity for then-President Barack Obama. Obama could have latched on to Hoh’s honest critique and used it to modify his own initial misreading of the Afghan War as the “good” war (as opposed to the “bad” Iraq War under Bush/Cheney). But Obama continued on course to military escalation in Afghanistan, a surge that produced nothing except more death and destruction. A dozen years later, U.S. forces finally withdrew from that country, chaotically and ignominiously.

Ironically, Members of Congress often know that senior military leaders are lying to them, but they refuse to act, notes Matt Hoh, mainly because they’re concerned to protect their political careers. In the case of the “surge” in Afghanistan, Democrats lined up to support Obama in part because they wanted no distractions as the president fought to get the Affordable Care Act passed into law.

So, the generals lie and Congress goes along with them, whether for profit, political expediency, and similar reasons, which only highlights further the rot throughout the military-industrial-congressional complex. In short, rather then challenging the lies, Congress is complicit in them.

Today, Republicans in the House want to investigate the 2021 withdrawal from Afghanistan, which is good, except their motivation is purely partisan. They want to attack the Biden administration, to paint it as weak and inept, when the real focus should be on all the lies, blunders, and profiteering by the military-industrial complex throughout the Afghan War.

A mendacious military is a very dangerous thing—far more dangerous than run-of-the-mill politicians like Santos with Pinocchio syndrome. Lies in military settings are matters of life and death. This is precisely why integrity is allegedly so highly valued, why honor is allegedly so highly esteemed, in the U.S. military.

It’s high time for real, honest, Congressional truth hearings on America’s disastrous wars. Just don’t appoint Santos and his ilk to serve on the committee.

29 thoughts on “George Santos, the U.S. Military, and Lying

  1. Anybody who wants to know why “Will America survive to celebrate its 250th birthday on July 4, 2026?” is a legitimate question need only consider the fact that:

    ~ 1 A guy like Santos got elected to the United States Congress in the first place, and;

    ~ 2. despite all the exposed lies, he hasn’t been thrown out of office by either his Constituents [who put him there in the first place], or his Colleagues-In-Crime up on Capital Hill.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When, Bill, has ANY military ~ or elected or appointed civilian leader in this country ~ EVER been punished for their Lies, and/or held responsible and accountable for their failures?

    It started all the way back when they lied about the sinking of the USS MAINE in Havana Harbor, thus launching America ~ the new Empire-Wannabe on the block ~ on its first Imperial Quests in Latin America and Asia.

    Then they lied to us about the luxury cruiser LUSITANIA and its cargo, enabling Wilson to get his “war to end all wars” and to make the world safe for the new Empire in the Western hemisphere.

    Then they lied to us about Pearl Harbor to finally get us into World War II and out of The Great Depression, and held nobody accountable for the second worst military security disaster in American history.

    And, of course, who can forget the Lies about Tonkin Gulf in 1964 and where that led and how?

    Or the “Incubator Babies of Kuwait” in 1990 to sell the American people on OPERATION DESERT STORM?

    Or Colin Powell’s song and dance at the UN about Saddam’s “WMDs” in ‘03?

    Or Director of National Intelligence [and retired General] James Clapper’s lying under oath to Congress in 2013 about whether Americans were being surveilled by their government?

    And finally. which civilian or military leaders were held accountable and responsible for the biggest intelligence, law enforcement, national defense ~ and the greatest military security ~ failure in the history of not just the US, but of the world: The Terror Event of September 11, 2001?

    Having said all that, the problem isn’t that Congress doesn’t hold these people responsible for their actions and words, and accountable for their failures and lies.


    A nation and a people get exactly the government they deserve.

    And for our sins of omission and commission, We, the American People, have the system of government and governance that we do because we have let that happen. And it promises only to get worse now that the gate has opened on Election2024.

    Like Cypher told Neo: “Buckle your seatbelt, Dorothy, cuz Kansas is going bye-bye.”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Too true. Electing the same people over and over again while expecting a different result is surely a sign of collective insanity. I would add that there is an inherent fault in our two party system (a feature or a bug?). We are divided pretty much down the middle, and the winner takes all attitude means we have to defeat the others, those people, our neighbors, our fellow citizens who are on the other side, who are made to be monsters, fools, the enemy. Yes we are responsible for holding our elected officials accountable, I absolutely agree. But the masters of lies are very good at keeping us divided, untrusting of each other, giving voice to our worst instincts. All the while the rich get richer, the MICC grows stronger, the poor continue to suffer, and the world grows sicker. We are corralled into gerrymandered districts so that the politicians can choose their voters, fed nonstop fear and hate created by think tanks, funded by billionaires, and amplified through a complacent media. Even the very institution of democratic elections is now under attack and not to be trusted. And you are right, as we enter another election cycle it will all be ramped up again to a frenzy, the screaming, the absolutist rhetoric of divide and conquer, the endless promises and lies. Vote for me! Only I can save you from them! From your fellow citizens, from yourselves!

      Liked by 2 people

  3. I stumbled across this the other day and I am not sure what to make of it. Is this a general being honest? Is there something else going on that we need to be aware of? Or are we being just once again being revved up with more fear to justify more military spending?

    “A four-star Air Force general sent a memo on Friday to the officers he commands that predicts the U.S. will be at war with China in two years and tells them to get ready to prep by firing “a clip” at a target, and “aim for the head.”

    “In the memo sent Friday and obtained by NBC News, Gen. Mike Minihan, head of Air Mobility Command, said, “I hope I am wrong. My gut tells me will fight in 2025.”

    Air Mobility Command has nearly 50,000 service members and nearly 500 planes and is responsible for transport and refueling.

    Minihan said in the memo that because both Taiwan and the U.S. will have presidential elections in 2024, the U.S. will be “distracted,” and Chinese President Xi Jinping will have an opportunity to move on Taiwan.”

    Has he lost his mind? Or did he say the thing out loud that isn’t supposed to be said yet?

    “Some lawmakers, namely Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., praised Minihan’s comments.

    “The U.S. military must be ready and able to respond at anytime to growing Chinese aggression,” Cotton tweeted Jan. 28. “Gen. Mike Minihan has the correct mentality — our bureaucracy needs to catch up.”

    ” A Wall Street Journal editorial, for example, hailed Minihan as a truth teller.

    The House Foreign Affairs Committee chairman, Texas Rep. Michael McCaul, said on “Fox News Sunday” that he hopes Minihan is wrong: “I think he’s right, though, unfortunately.”

    “Writing about the Marines on Okinawa, CNN’s team has reported that the Pentagon is certainly aiming to be ready for any conflict with China – noting “the Pentagon’s desire to shift from the wars of the past in the Middle East to the region of the future in the Indo-Pacific. The change comes as simulated war games from a prominent Washington think tank found that Japan, and Okinawa in particular, would play a critical role in a military conflict with China, providing the United States with forward deployment and basing options.”

    The military labels China as a “pacing threat,” meaning its military is making strategic strides against the US. In fact, China’s navy has surpassed the US Navy in fleet size, and some experts have warned that an American technological advantage may not be enough to maintain superiority, particularly when the US is committing many of its munitions to Ukraine.”

    Got to justify that bloated budget it seems. Can’t let those people have more ships than us.

    Going to be a fun election cycle as our politicians argue over whether we are fighting Russia or China in the next big war. Either way the MIC wins.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. In the parallel World of Fear Porn Propaganda, The Jerusalem Post is reporting, “The Islamic Republic of Iran has threatened to “raze Tel Aviv and Haifa to the ground” in an unprecedented nuclear attack, as nonproliferation experts warn that the country now has enough enriched uranium for at least one nuclear bomb.”

      Iran has not threatened Tel Aviv with a nuclear attack. That is made up propaganda.
      The Ukraine WAR shows a City can be razed to the ground using only conventional Weapons.

      I think that’s Media Propaganda preparing the Public for an immenant US-Israel attack on Iran under the cover of the Ukraine WAR. I read The Jerusalem Post and The Times of Israel daily and reading between the lines I see that’s what is being projected.

      The ARMAGEDDON in the Revelation of Jesus Christ is a physical place located in Israel recreated from the Bible TODAY.

      I posted to my Blog 12 years ago, what happened to me, suddenly and unexpectedly, when I was BORN AGAIN February 1, 1975, coming Alive to the Spirit of Christ in me, changing my perceptions from BC to AD, making me 79 going on 38.

      Looking into what’s happening in the World Today, it appears the Title I chose then was prescient.


      Liked by 1 person

        1. Here is the original article translated:

          Israel: Netanyahu visits Paris, looking for allies against Iran

          The Israeli Prime Minister is in Paris this Thursday, February 2. This is Benjamin Netanyahu’s first visit to France since his return to power a month ago. The Iranian question should largely dominate discussions with President Macron. The Jewish state is looking for allies to support its ambitions against Tehran.
          Israel fears that its worst enemy, the Islamic Republic of Iran, is acquiring nuclear weapons. The Jewish state wishes to form a military coalition, in particular with the Western powers, in order to strike at the regime of the mullahs.

          On paper, everything is ready. Israel has studied in great detail its strategy to attack Iran. Some 3,000 targets have been identified, and the Jewish state wants to take action quickly. “But there is no question of going into battle alone,” confides a diplomatic source.

          The idea for Israel, explains this same source, is to find allies. The military coalition would bring together France, the United States and, ideally, a few Arab countries: certain Gulf monarchies, for which the Islamic Republic also constitutes a threat.

          Unity is strength ; this alliance would have a dissuasive role. Israel attacks Iran, but Tehran does not retaliate, because that would be declaring war on several countries at the same time.
          Until then, Paris and Washington had categorically rejected this option, preferring the diplomatic solution with Iran, reveals a source familiar with the matter. But the situation has changed.

          First, the Iranian nuclear deal seems to be in jeopardy. Then, Israel made an effort to position itself in the Western camp, in the Russian-Ukrainian file. The Jewish state says it plans to support kyiv militarily against Moscow.

          Benyamin Netanyahu thus sends a message to Westerners: I support you in your war against Russia, support me in my battle against Iran. This is what he is looking for in Paris.

          Liked by 2 people

      1. Great comment about Iran, Fear Porn Propaganda, Ukraine et al…appreciated…thanks…read your blog…along the way, I don’t understand “…Though my body is 78 [@2011]…”…I was born 11-10-1943, and my body is now decidedly and decliningly 79…my go-to Bible words are those of Matt. 11:28-30…they give my “weary and burdened” self “rest” every day…we should all follow and obey The Prince of Peace….


        1. Robert, I posted the article in 2011 and updated it last year. I’m reporting on something that happened to me in 1975. Today I am 79 but only 38 years learning the Ways of the Christ Spirit.

          As for your reference to Matthew 11:28-30, that’s another Day in my Life AD when I lived in Venice Beach, Ca. in 1976 where I cite those verses,

          A DAY IN THE LIFE

          Liked by 1 person

  4. It’s obvious what interests me I share here, does not interest others enough to stimulate discussion, but this is very important in my mind, with the current WAR on information.
    It was written by Robert Perry just after the 2014 US/CIA Coup/regime change in Ukraine to pave the way for US/NATO to advance right up to Russia’s Border.

    ‘The Victory of ‘Perception Management’
    Robert Parry
    Special to Consortium News
    Dec. 28, 2014

    To understand how the American people find themselves trapped in today’s Orwellian dystopia of endless warfare against an ever-shifting collection of “evil” enemies, you have to think back to the Vietnam War and the shock to the ruling elite caused by an unprecedented popular uprising against that war.

    While on the surface Official Washington pretended that the mass protests didn’t change policy, a panicky reality existed behind the scenes, a recognition that a major investment in domestic propaganda would be needed to ensure that future imperial adventures would have the public’s eager support or at least its confused acquiescence.

    This commitment to what the insiders called “perception management” began in earnest with the Reagan administration in the 1980s but it would come to be the accepted practice of all subsequent administrations, including the present one of President Barack Obama.

    In that sense, propaganda in pursuit of foreign policy goals would trump the democratic ideal of an informed electorate. The point would be not to honestly inform the American people about events around the world but to manage their perceptions by ramping up fear in some cases and defusing outrage in others depending on the U.S. government’s needs.

    Thus, you have the current hysteria over Russia’s supposed “aggression” in Ukraine [2014] when the crisis was actually provoked by the West, including by U.S. neocons who helped create today’s humanitarian crisis in eastern Ukraine that they now cynically blame on Russian President Vladimir Putin………………

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is a very interesting article. One of those “yep, that makes sense” kind of reads. What really caught my attention was the rotating list of characters from one administration to the next. And it does explain the run up to the invasion of Iraq. It’s not like people weren’t saying it was a bad idea based on lies, but the push back was fast and fierce.

      As for my own personal experience at that time, I was threatened with physical violence more than once, had my car vandalized, and was shunned by family and friends for speaking out against the invasion. There was a joke going around amongst the anti-war bloggers that if one of us hadn’t posted in a while we at least hoped the weather was nice in Gitmo.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. For Julian Assange and all my fellow Veterans Against the War:

        Chateau D’If Guantanamo
        (From The Triumph of Strife: an homage to Dante Alighieri and Percy Shelley)

        The Chateau D’If Guantanamo affair
        Has thrown a spotlight on our soulless place
        The ones that we’re ashamed of languish there

        Identities we’ve chosen to efface
        The business of our state we privilege
        Asserting no requirement to trace

        The path that led us down to sacrilege
        Denying human rights our forebears claimed
        The depths of perfidy we daily dredge

        Excuses for the human minds we’ve maimed
        Implying guilt for something just inferred
        Injustice only for the ones we’ve framed

        No crime alleged; no evidence proffered
        Embarrassments therefore must be interred

        To show the world how much we value life
        We throw it in a cage and lose the key
        Imprisoned by our martial drum and fife

        We do the Bulgar drills and pimp for free
        Our army for the lowest bidder whores
        And corporations follow camp to see

        That they make whoopee hay on foreign shores
        The fanboy fascists thrill to fantasy
        Which makes more work for mom to clean their drawers

        In prisons inmates fight despondency
        In bondage for another endless day
        Yet some found freedom in eternity

        And robbed us of our use of their dismay
        A glib and graceless ghoulish grandstand play

        How dare they sneak away to their own ends!
        Like George Bush visiting Iraq at night
        Did they not know what messages this sends?

        That even hopeless people have the right
        To find a power in their own demise
        That darkness can’t obscure the awful sight:

        The bitter truth that few will recognize
        That some will die a man, not live a slave
        What made them think that they could realize

        A martyrdom known only from the grave?
        Or did they simply fail to see much sense
        In waiting for a justice that forgave?

        Our jurisprudence pruned to prurience
        Their deaths we’ve got; not their obedience

        Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2006-2010

        Liked by 2 people

  5. “Innocence is like a dumb leper who has lost his bell, wandering the world, intending no harm.” Graham Greene, The Quiet American (1955)

    Reading again from Bernard Fall’s book, Street Without Joy: the French Debacle in Indochina (1961) along with watching a DVD copy of The Quiet American (2002) starring Brendan Fraser and Michael Caine, I started experiencing some associations with The Sand Pebbles (1962), by Richard McKenna, which I first read during USN basic training in August of 1966 (the eponymous movie came out later in December of that year). Then the “Muse of Fire” started flogging me and wouldn’t let up until I had started and finished:

    Grungy, Grim
    (after the style of Rudyard Kipling’s Gunga Din)

    Now it isn’t smart to camp
    where you haven’t got a lamp
    with the moon and stars alone to light the way.
    Mangrove forests all around
    some defoliated ground.
    There us foreign sailors kept the “foe” at bay
    Tons of sand on Delta mud.
    Concept landed with a thud.
    From the “safety” of this base we fired away.
    While we aimed to stay afloat,
    others tried to sink our boat.
    Not exactly someone asking us to stay

    It was Dim, Dim-and-Dimmer, really Dim
    Doesn’t matter, she or he or her or him.
    If we wanted you to think
    we’d have issued you some ink
    and a pencil, saying “fat” you spell as “slim”

    Up a creek without a paddle
    wisdom said we’d best skedaddle
    like we later would from far Afghanistan
    but the military brass
    thinking with its simple ass
    wished to still deploy the spare enlisted man
    with an officer or two
    ticket punching, as their due,
    hoping not to test their short attention span.
    Then the time comes to depart
    hoping someone’s learned the art
    of concluding what we stupidly began.

    It was Dumb, Dumb-and-Dumber, truly Dumb.
    Doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from.
    If we wanted you to know
    we’d have told you long ago.
    Just salute or paint it: that’s your rule of thumb.

    Still some thought we knew the name
    of a song they thought would tame
    Asian peasants who’ve a different tune to play
    So we brought “advisers” in
    who commenced to live in sin
    helping Saigon compradors to make some hay
    “Kill a gook for God,” we said
    also, “Better Dead Than Red.”
    “Kill them all and let Lord Jesus sort things out.”
    Place in power those we bought.
    Say “Democracy” a lot.
    Demonstrate the principles we always flout.

    It was Grim, Gritty, Grimy, Grungy, Grim
    Vietnam, the End-of-Nowhere’s metonym.
    There the government said go.
    Stall for time. Put on a show.
    So we sang our Empire’s dog-and-pony hymn.

    Elmo Zumwalt, C.N.O.,
    said that if we wished to grow
    beards or mustaches we could — to help morale
    My commander, though, disputed
    what he thought “morale” imputed
    so he sent me to the most remote locale.
    Feeling not the least repentance
    I set out to serve my sentence
    for the crime of growing hair upon my face.
    Fourteen months at Solid Anchor,
    more in aimlessness than rancor,
    thinking someday I’d rejoin the human race.

    It was Droll, Damned, Demented, Dreary, Dense
    All these things at once without a lick of sense.
    Chow, tobacco, sleep, and beer.
    Can I please get out of here?
    Hopefully, before the next attacks commence.

    Looking ragged, feeling bored
    like a one-man Mongrel Horde
    Uncle Samuel’s Canoe Club (US Navy),
    Forest Gump and Gunga Din,
    Castaway, nothing to “win,”
    I survived – “shit on a shingle” (toast with gravy).
    Most came home. Some never knew.
    Some still think of those we slew
    both our ignorance and hubris on display.
    And the tally of the game?
    It’s as if we never came
    ‘cause the river, mud, and mangroves won the day

    See, it’s Screw, Screwed-and-Screwing, you’re the Screw
    Makes no difference, us or them. It’s we or you.
    You’re just empire’s conscript whores
    which is why you lose our wars
    ‘cause you have no need to fight them. Still, we do . . .

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2023

    Sorry for the length of the “comment,” but Kipling did it that way, so I thought I had better do so, as well.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. UnAmerican Activities
      By Gerry Sloan

      The chances of writing a successful
      political poem are slim to non-existent,
      but we keep rolling the boulder uphill
      while the raven perched on our shoulder
      keeps croaking like Bertolt Brecht:

      “Why were their poets silent?”
      Because we’re the Forlorn Hope,
      idealistic volunteers to be first
      through the thermo-nuclear breach
      since weapons of mass destruction
      place notions of victory out of reach,
      our leaders playing high-stakes chicken,
      the absurdity of their rhetoric
      enough to make a maggot sicken.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. American Proclivities

        The Wehrmacht-Einheitskanister (or jerrican)
        was not our only Nazi importation.
        Like Nixon and McCarthy, unAmerican

        activities soon spread throughout our nation,
        as far-right opportunists (GOP, for short)
        made Nazi gasoline their standard ration.

        The “left-wing” junior varsity now takes the court
        with “Democrats” like Adam Schiff and Russiagate
        all hot to prove that they, too, can the Truth abort.

        What evidence of crimes need they articulate?
        What use for diplomats and their civilities?
        True Nazis only think they need infuriate.

        What once were unAmerican activities
        have now become bi-partisan proclivities.

        Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright © 2023

        Liked by 2 people

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