Monday 18 November 2002

Americans need truth before starting a war

How important is the truth as America confronts Iraq? Enormously.
People in some parts of the world are not accustomed to the truth and do not expect to get it. The condition of their lives reflects as much.

A Syrian pundit once told me about a proverb which I found dubious but nonetheless appropriate to events in the Middle East.

"There is nothing more beautiful than a well-constructed lie," he said.

Certainly the truth is an elusive commodity in the region. In my own experience as a correspondent there in the 1970s and 1980s, my colleagues and I thought it simply didn't exist.

The Palestinians, Lebanese, Syrians, Jordanians, Egyptians and Iraqis seemed capable of the grossest distortions of events.

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