A liar, or a pragmatist?

Wednesday 30 July 2003 12:38 PM

"Lied to" is now, it seems, firmly cemented in the psyche of professional journalists and casual letter-writers, when referring to the PM's promotion of Australia's participation in the Iraq war. The phrase is now a given in the ongoing debate, and an entire war of words is waged upon it. I'm no fan of John Howard's policies. Like many, I particularly deplore the foreign policy direction he has imposed upon our nation. I have consistently opposed the entire philosophy and rhetoric of Bush's "war on terror" and "pre-emptive strikes" doctrine, and our Government's apparent lemming-like allegiance to it. However, "lied to" is an awfully bald piece of vocabulary. Howard is a pragmatist. As such he may well see the political value of avoiding too much public soul-searching on past errors of fact or judgement. But as a person he does not deserve to be labelled a "liar", as if this were a fundamental character trait. Such charged language and the serious implications behind it will do nothing to promote reason. The community is polarised enough already.