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News Lying in International Politics

  1. Sep 5, 2004 #1


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    "http://www.learnedhand.com/mearsheimer_lying.htm [Broken]'s paper prepared for the American Political Science Foundation annual meeting this past week.

    Mearsheimer is a professor of Political Science and co-director of the Program on International Security Policy at the University of Chicago.

    From the abstract:
    ... international lying takes four forms. Inter-state lying is where states lie to each other to gain strategic advantage. Fear-mongering is where foreign policy elites lie to their own public because they believe that the people do not recognize the seriousness of an external threat and they need to be motivated to deal with it. Nationalist myth-making is where elites tell lies about their state’s history to help foster a powerful sense of national identity among all segments of society. Anti-realist lying is where elites attempt to disguise brutal behavior carried out in pursuit of realist (or other) goals, because it conflicts with widely-accepted liberal norms.

    Although there are compelling logics for pursuing each of these different kinds of lying, fear-mongering stands out as the one most likely to have serious negative consequences. Specifically, it is likely to encourage a culture of dishonesty on the home-front, and it has the most potential for backfiring and leading to a strategic debacle.​
    Last edited by a moderator: May 1, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 5, 2004 #2
    Does fear-mongering describe the nuclear winter hysteria that the Left pushed during the 1970s?

    Or is the global warming debate an example of fear-mongering?

    Sorry, but when I think of fear-mongering, I typically think of the Left and their scare tactics, which typically amount to:

  4. Sep 5, 2004 #3


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    Maybe you are reading a little too far into Plover's post. Where in it does he attack the right for scare tactics? He simply gives a clear definition of what lying in international politics means. I find your overdefensiveness interesting.
  5. Sep 5, 2004 #4
    I never stated plover attacked the right. Maybe you are reading too far into my post. I find your overdefensiveness interesting.
  6. Sep 5, 2004 #5


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    Neither corresponds to the use of the term 'fear-mongering' in this paper, which is explicitly about the function of lying by state-level actors in pursuit of foreign policy goals.

    Even disregarding the context, if 'fear-mongering' is defined as it is in the above abstract, your examples don't really make sense. The climate scientists arguing for global warming aren't running around falsifying data*. Whether you agree with the assessments of the data or not, there isn't some cabal of scientists out there manufacturing lies.

    And I really would prefer it if you read my posts with at least a little care if you choose to respond to them. It would be polite.

    * *sigh* here's the caveat about this being a general statement, so some yobbo doesn't show up with a single counter-example and claim that proves the opposite.
  7. Sep 5, 2004 #6
    In fact Johndubya's initial response is exactly correct. Perhaps Plover should re-read the paper.
  8. Sep 6, 2004 #7


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    You have presented no evidence, so there is no reason to take your claim seriously. Convince me its purpose is not to derail discussion through baseless assertion.
  9. Sep 6, 2004 #8


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    :rofl: . You're so right. You are one of the few righties I enjoy debating just because you have a sense of humor.
  10. Sep 6, 2004 #9
    Your arguments are quite bias, remember that everyone uses scar tactics, especially in the US. And by that I mean Right, Left, Government, Corporations, Small Businesses. Everyone, but its especially the corporations which are influencing the media to only cover crime and terrorism.
  11. Sep 6, 2004 #10
    plover's definition

    Author's definition

    "Fear-mongering is where elites lie to their public about a particular foreign-policy threat for the purpose of motivating the people to take that threat seriously and make the necessary sacrifices to counter it."

    Compare your definition with the author’s definition. Your definition is meaningless and invents terms that appear nowhere in the paper.

  12. Sep 6, 2004 #11
    Could this all be a scare tactic by plover to lie to the people that politicians are lying about policies? Is that fear mongering?
  13. Sep 6, 2004 #12


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    First, my statement is not a definition of 'fear-mongering', it's a statement about the domain for which the paper defines that term.

    I figured the statement you quoted was probably the one you were stuck on, as the only rationale I could come up with for your challenge was that you identified Mearsheimer's use of the word 'elites' with the right-wing shibboleth of 'liberal elites'.

    Did you read any more of the paper than that paragraph? It's clear that Mearsheimer is using the term 'elites' to denote the government officials who enact foreign policy for a given nation; this is even clear from the section of the abstract I quoted where the term is introduced as 'foreign policy elites'. My use of the term 'state-level actor' (I assume this what you say I've 'invented') is intended to refer to the same people.

    If you are trying to imply that I've denied that environmentalists have used scare tactics, that would just be dishonest. All I've done is point out that environmentalists are, as a rule, not foreign policy officials, and thus the analysis given is not intended to apply to them, and that in any case, even when employing such tactics, environmentalists are not generally lying.

    If someone has a meaningful comparison to make between the analysis in the paper and environmentalist scare-tactics, they might try articulating it instead of ranting and sniping.
  14. Sep 6, 2004 #13
    Al Gore’s “Earth In the Balance” serves as the archetypical example of “fear mongering” according to your restrictive definition.


    As a Conservative, I am anxious to apply "good science" to repair environmental damge. Hyperbole from left-wingers is not helpful.

  15. Sep 6, 2004 #14
    Why do we even care what John Mearsheimer says? It's just one man's opinion.
  16. Sep 6, 2004 #15
    Yeah, one man can never be right. Even if millions agree with him. o_O
  17. Sep 6, 2004 #16

    Right you are!
  18. Sep 6, 2004 #17
    Adam, one man can be right. I just see no reason to believe that John Mearsheimer is that man over anyone else.
  19. Sep 6, 2004 #18


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    Following your logic would mean that John Edwards should currently be allowed to set foreign policy...

    Also, so far you've given no indication that you can tell the difference between my statements and Mearsheimer's.
    Your quote marks are apparently appropriate. :wink:
    Never said it was. All I said is that it's not the subject of the paper... :rolleyes:
  20. Sep 6, 2004 #19


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    As someone said recently: "do you read your posts before hitting the Submit button?" I am honestly amazed that you would post something this blatantly idiotic -- you're not that stupid.

    Like anyone else, it doesn't matter a damn who he is if he has an interesting argument. Google him if you want to know more. I'm not here to defend him or his argument.

    I found his analysis interesting, though I wouldn't say I accept all of it. I thought other people might find it interesting or worth discussing. So far all I've seen is that right-wing types have a phenomenal ability to read it incorrectly.

    If you have any interest in convincing people that conservatives can have an open mind and care about evidence, this isn't going to hack it. If, however, you're just interested in airing your prejudices and lowering the signal/noise ratio of PF discussion, then you're succeeding admirably.
    Hey look JohnDubYa -- you've got a chorus to back you up now! It's so cute! And such a good illustration of how right-wing types think for themselves!
  21. Sep 7, 2004 #20
    I kept muttering to myself "No ****?" to nearly every point Mearsheimer made in his article. If you are going to post an excerpt, why not make it at least mildly provocative??? (Good luck finding anything in the article that comes close to raising an eyebrow.)
  22. Sep 7, 2004 #21
    I do not understand Mearsheimer's classification. The different categories listed are not the same types of classification. "Inter-state lying" and "fear-mongering" are not divisions on the same scale like interstate and intrastate are. I also don't understand how lying to "their own public" is international lying.
  23. Sep 7, 2004 #22
    someone should come up with good definitions for these names because it makes no sense to me.
  24. Sep 7, 2004 #23
    Well, do you see anything in his work there which is wrong?
  25. Sep 7, 2004 #24
    I see nothing in his work that is even worth discussing. It is a boring paper with no evidence of progressive thinking. I can summarize his paper quite easily: There are many types of lying. Some are worse than others.
  26. Sep 7, 2004 #25
    That would be a "no", you can't see anything wrong there, so must simply try to dismiss it as worthless to cover the lack of any real objection.
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