Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

Fictions as Truth

For the Obama administration narrative to be accurate about the swap of five Taliban/al-Qaeda-related kingpins for Sgt. Bergdahl, we are asked to believe the following:

by Victor Davis Hanson // PJ Media

Photo by via PJ Media

Photo by via PJ Media

For the Obama administration narrative to be accurate about the swap of five Taliban/al-Qaeda-related kingpins for Sgt. Bergdahl, we are asked to believe the following:

1. Sgt. Bergdahl was in ill health; thus the need for alacrity. Surely we will expect to see him in an enfeebled state on his return to the U.S.

2. Sgt. Bergdahl was in grave and sudden danger from his captors; thus the need for alacrity. We expect to see proof of that on his return to the U.S.

3. The five Taliban detainees will be under guard in Qatar for a year. We expect in June 2015 to know that they are still there in Qatar.

4. The five Taliban detainees don’t really pose a grave threat to U.S. troops, given that we will be gone from Afghanistan in 2016. We expect not to hear that any of the five are reengaged in the war effort to kill Americans between 2015-16.

5. Sgt. Bergdahl served with “honor and distinction.” We expect to have confirmation of that fact once his intelligence file is released and more evidence is adduced that all of his platoon-mates were wrong (or perhaps vindictive and partisan) in stating that he voluntarily left their unit — deserted — to meet up with the Taliban.

6. Sgt. Bergdahl was captured on the “field of battle”; we expect to have confirmation that he was taken unwillingly by the enemy amid a clash of arms.

7. Sgt. Bergdahl was not a collaborator. We expect to learn confirmation of the fact that he did not disclose information to his captors.

8. Bergdahl’s fellow soldiers in his platoon are either partisan operatives or sorely misinformed, and we will shortly learn that their accounts of Bergdahl’s disappearance were erroneous.

9. The U.S. has traditionally negotiated to bring home even deserters, and did so frequently, for example, both during and after the Korean War when GIs crossed into North Korea.

10. The timing of the swap amid the VA scandal and the press conference with the Bergdahl family were not predicated on political considerations.

11. There is no law stopping the president from releasing terrorists from Guantanamo, only legal fictions promulgated by right-wing critics of the president.

12. The five Taliban terrorists are now old outliers, rusty, and mostly irrelevant to the war in Afghanistan.

For Benghazi, the Obama administration would have us believe:

1. A spontaneous demonstration erupted over a right-wing hate video of Mr. Nakoula, who was deservedly condemned for causing the deaths of four Americans by the Obama administration. His subsequent jailing was solely due to a parole violation.

2.  The United States consulate in Benghazi was adequately secured before the attack and had expressed no prior serious warning about inadequate defenses.

3.  There was no reasonable chance that U.S. military forces could have come to the aid of those killed in Benghazi.

4. President Obama was engaged in overseeing responses during the night of the attack.

5. Susan Rice simply relayed reasonable intelligence reports at the time that confirmed the violence was spontaneous and arose over a video. The president and Secretary Clinton seconded her assessment and have no reason to alter their judgment.

6. Intelligence operatives, not White House personnel, are largely responsible for any inconsistencies about the origins of the attack. There were no administration efforts to alter intelligence synopses.

7. CIA operatives in Benghazi were engaged in transparent and routine efforts to secure the Khadafy arsenal.

8. The Benghazi deaths were not connected to the general chaos in Libya that followed the lead-from-behind intervention to remove Khadafy.

9. Nearly two years after Benghazi, what difference does it make now?

For the IRS scandal, the Obama administration would have us believe:

1. Some low-level bureaucrats may have proved over-zealous in targeting some non-profit groups.

2. There was no real pattern in the political affiliations of those who were inordinately targeted by the IRS.

3. A number of conservative groups were unlawfully engaging in blatantly partisan activities, in ways not true of their liberal counterparts. So it is understandable why they in theory might have drawn the attention of IRS auditors.

4. We should not infer much from Lois Lerner’s pleading of the 5th Amendment, given right-wing attempts to smear and destroy a noble public servant.

5. The targeting of so-called Tea-party groups between late 2010 and late 2012 had no effect on the 2012 election.

6. The Obama administration has conducted a thorough investigation that now has mostly exonerated the IRS from the excesses of a few regional officials. The result is not even a smidgeon of corruption.

7. The Obama administration had no real contacts with the IRS director during the period in which the agency pursued conservative groups.

8. If any good comes from this melodrama, at least reactionary groups will think twice about their partisan giving.

For the Obamacare scandal, we are asked to believe:

1. The Obama administration consistently published up-to-date and accurate information about the number of ongoing enrollees and those who have paid their premiums.

2. The president’s promises that Americans could keep their health plans and doctors were misinterpreted; in fact, he referred only to those who had existing legitimate health plans, not substandard ones that of course were in need of government intervention and substitution.

3. Kathleen Sebelius and the president met frequently over the Affordable Care Act rollout and foresaw many of the problems beforehand.

4. The collapse of the website and general chaos upon implementation are the normal sorts of problems that accompany ambitious new government programs.

5. Because of Republican rejectionism, it became necessary for the president to delay a few of the provisions of the ACA in order to protect the interests of the formerly uninsured.

6. Most of the problems with the ACA have resulted from Republican obstructionism and nihilism that sought to deny the poor and needy access to health care.

7. The few million who lost their health care plans eventually will come to appreciate the president’s leadership, once they discover that they now have more comprehensive ACA coverage at cheaper costs.

8. Stories of patient, doctor and insurance chaos are largely partisan narratives promulgated by those who always opposed the ACA.

9. There is still a good chance, as Republican stonewalling wanes, that the ACA will lower insurance premiums and increase small-business competitiveness as originally promised. Likewise the ACA will help lower the deficit as promised.

10. That a large number of the new ACA enrollees simply switched over from Medicaid programs is either untrue or irrelevant.

11. The ACA will not fundamentally affect levels of Medicare coverage.

For the VA mess, the Obama administration would have us believe:

1. The mess, to the extent that it was a mess, was largely a result of prior policies of the Bush administration as Barack Obama pointed out as early as 2008.

2. The Bush wars in Afghanistan and Iraq were largely responsible for the delays in service, as hundreds of thousands of new vets were dumped into the system.

3. The problem at the VA was not necessarily the fault of Gen. Shinseki, an iconic figure who bravely opposed the Iraq war and a public servant who has largely been demonized by those seeking partisan advantage.

4. The VA scandal, such as it is, highlights why President Obama overhauled the health care system and gave us the ACA.

5. The VA scandal is mostly, like the IRS brouhaha, a regional matter with no national implications.

On illegal immigration scandals, the president would have us believe:

1. Almost all illegal aliens arrive here to work; very few are the old, young, sick, criminal, unskilled, uneducated, or those seeking public assistance.

2. The border is a fluid construct originally designed by largely illiberal interests to artificially claim land that was indigenously owned.

3. Mexico is an enlightened partner that wishes to help the U.S. with its labor needs.

4. At a time of worker scarcity, we desperately need more low-skilled laborers to keep the U.S. economy humming along.

5. The arrival of millions of illegal aliens is a boon to the economy; the few who depend on public assistance or encounterthe criminal justice system or impact the health and education services are more than balanced by the millions who work hard at cheap wages and pay taxes for services they rarely draw on.

6. Opposition to illegal immigration is entirely race-driven by an angry but shrinking white minority, which needs to “get over it” and accept the new demographic reality.

7. There have been no real violations of immigration law. Such calcified statutes reflected race and class biases and therefore have no sanctity. Progressive interpretations of border controversies are far more ethical and deserve greater legal weight.

8. Current de facto immigration policy is merit-based and not predicated on racial or ethnic considerations. Proposed “meritocratic” changes to base immigration on education and skill sets are thinly disguised ways of discriminating against people of color.

I could go on with the NSA, AP, and Fast and Furious scandals, but you get the picture: the Obama administration does what it wishes, then says what it pleases, and assumes the media will offer the necessary mythologizing — and the Americans will get over it.

Copyright © 2008 Works and Days. All rights reserved.

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About victorhanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture. He recently published an historical novel The End of Sparta (2012), a realistic retelling of Epaminondas invasion and liberation of Spartan-control Messenia. In The Father of Us All (2011), he collected earlier essays on warfare ancient and modern. His upcoming history The Savior Generals(2013) analyzes how five generals in the history of the West changed the course of battles against all odds. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal in 2007 and the Bradley Prize in 2008. Hanson, who was the fifth successive generation to live in the same house on his family’s farm, was a full-time orchard and vineyard grower from 1980-1984, before joining the nearby CSU Fresno campus in 1984 to initiate a classical languages program. In 1991, he was awarded an American Philological Association Excellence in Teaching Award, which is given yearly to the country’s top undergraduate teachers of Greek and Latin. Hanson has been a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the Center for Advanced Studies in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford, California (1992-93), a visiting professor of classics at Stanford University (1991-92), a recipient of the Eric Breindel Award for opinion journalism (2002), an Alexander Onassis Fellow (2001), and was named alumnus of the year of the University of California, Santa Cruz (2002). He was also the visiting Shifrin Professor of Military History at the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland (2002-3). He received the Manhattan Institute’s Wriston Lectureship in 2004, and the 2006 Nimitz Lectureship in Military History at UC Berkeley in 2006. Hanson is the author of hundreds of articles, book reviews, scholarly papers, and newspaper editorials on matters ranging from ancient Greek, agrarian and military history to foreign affairs, domestic politics, and contemporary culture. He has written or edited 17 books, including Warfare and Agriculture in Classical Greece (1983; paperback ed. University of California Press, 1998); The Western Way of War (Alfred Knopf, 1989; 2d paperback ed. University of California Press, 2000); Hoplites: The Ancient Greek Battle Experience (Routledge, 1991; paperback., 1992); The Other Greeks: The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization(Free Press, 1995; 2nd paperback ed., University of California Press, 2000);Fields without Dreams: Defending the Agrarian Idea (Free Press, 1996; paperback, Touchstone, 1997; The Bay Area Book reviewers Non-fiction winner for 1996); The Land Was Everything: Letters from an American Farmer (Free Press, 2000; a Los Angeles Times Notable book of the year); The Wars of the Ancient Greeks (Cassell, 1999; paperback, 2001); The Soul of Battle (Free Press, 1999, paperback, Anchor/Vintage, 2000); Carnage and Culture (Doubleday, 2001; Anchor/Vintage, 2002; a New York Times bestseller); An Autumn of War (Anchor/Vintage, 2002); Mexifornia: A State of Becoming (Encounter, 2003),Ripples of Battle (Doubleday, 2003), and Between War and Peace (Random House, 2004). A War Like No Other: How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War, was published by Random House in October 2005. It was named one of the New York Times Notable 100 Books of 2006. Hanson coauthored, with John Heath, Who Killed Homer? The Demise of Classical Education and the Recovery of Greek Wisdom (Free Press, 1998; paperback, Encounter Press, 2000); with Bruce Thornton and John Heath, Bonfire of the Humanities (ISI Books, 2001); and with Heather MacDonald, and Steven Malanga, The Immigration Solution: A Better Plan Than Today’s (Ivan Dee 2007). He edited a collection of essays on ancient warfare, Makers of Ancient Strategy (Princeton University Press, 2010). Hanson has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, International Herald Tribune, New York Post, National Review, Washington Times, Commentary, The Washington Post, Claremont Review of Books, American Heritage, New Criterion, Policy Review, Wilson Quarterly, Weekly Standard, Daily Telegraph, and has been interviewed often on National Public Radio, PBS Newshour, Fox News, CNN, and C-Span’s Book TV and In-Depth. He serves on the editorial board of the Military History Quarterly, and City Journal. Since 2001, Hanson has written a weekly column for National Review Online, and in 2004, began his weekly syndicated column for Tribune Media Services. In 2006, he also began thrice-weekly blog for Pajamas Media, Works and Days. Hanson was educated at the University of California, Santa Cruz (BA, Classics, 1975, ‘highest honors’ Classics, ‘college honors’, Cowell College), the American School of Classical Studies, Athens (regular member, 1978-79) and received his Ph.D. in Classics from Stanford University in 1980. He divides his time between his forty-acre tree and vine farm near Selma, California, where he was born in 1953, and the Stanford campus.

4 Thoughts on “Fictions as Truth

  1. Timothy S. Pinckney on June 9, 2014 at 6:37 pm said:

    I am totally exasperated, nervous and somewhat fearful of what the next 2+ years hold for America under this administration. My single biggest concern is Iran and the thought that Obama will not unilaterally stop them form acquiring nuclear weapons.

  2. Stuart Milligan on June 9, 2014 at 7:53 pm said:

    The definition of a thug is someone who bullies people to get his way, with disregard for the rules. This President is simply a thug.

  3. Michael Fine on June 9, 2014 at 7:57 pm said:

    We are of an age, Professor. I find it difficult to retain hope for my country at least in the short term. Have you any reading suggestions for me?
    P.S. Enjoyed enormously “Savior Generals”.

  4. Epaminondas on June 12, 2014 at 9:40 pm said:

    The sad thing is, the administration is right.

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