August 27, 2013
Help, We're Surrounded By Sneaky Foreigners!
It's tough being American. We're so honest and we live in a world of deceit, as former CIA Director Richard Helms pointed out back in the seventies:
RICHARD HELMS: We discovered there were some Eastern Europeans who could defeat the polygraph at any time. Americans are not very good at it, because we are raised to tell the truth and when we lie it is easy to tell are lying. But we find a lot of Europeans and Asiatics can handle that polygraph without a blip
It's also tough to be Israeli, because they're very very honest too despite being surrounded by liars, as former Prime Minister Ehud Barak explained in 2001:
Barak shook his head—in bewilderment and sadness—at what he regards as Palestinian, and especially Arafat’s, mendacity:They are products of a culture in which to tell a lie…creates no dissonance. They don’t suffer from the problem of telling lies that exists in Judeo-Christian culture. Truth is seen as an irrelevant category. There is only that which serves your purpose and that which doesn’t. They see themselves as emissaries of a national movement for whom everything is permissible. There is no such thing as “the truth.”
Speaking of Arab society, Barak recalls: “The deputy director of the US Federal Bureau of Investigation once told me that there are societies in which lie detector tests don’t work, societies in which lies do not create cognitive dissonance."
Iranians in particular lie constantly, as Washington Post columnist Jim Hoagland wrote in 2007:
Fooling foreigners and adversaries is an ancient Persian art form. Saying exactly what you mean is a crude and dangerous way to talk, or to negotiate.
Ask anyone who's dealt with us—Native Americans, Africans, Palestinians—and they'll tell you: they may have had their disagreements with U.S. or Israeli policies, but one thing they never encountered was dishonesty.