Lying in International Relations Essay

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Lying in International Relations

What are your thoughts on lying in international relations?

International relations can be a very complicated issue and the relationships can be tenuous and easily broken if not handled correctly. The importance of a solid relationship cannot be underestimated. Countries with which a nation has a good relationship will be a source of economic support in terms of trade and lending of funds, a sharer of technological progression, as well as a potential ally in times of strife. It is the hope that when countries are building a relationship, there will be a level of honesty between the governments. However there will always be certain secrets which a nation's government should never share to a country and indeed with nations where there is a history of mistrust or dubious actions, it is even less prudent to share top-secret information. Some people naively state that "honesty is the best policy" and other such idiomatic proverbs but that simply does not prove to be wise in terms of international relations. There are occasions wherein it is far better for the security of the nation to lie to other countries.

On the whole, it is good to be as honest as possible with our ally nations but to keep in mind always the protection of the citizens of one's own country before all else. If sharing information could in any way lead to foreseeable dangers to the population, then the government should not relay that data. The relationship that the countries have with one another historically will largely determine how much honesty is bestowed upon them (Urpelainen 2011,-page 118). During the Second World War, the United States was allied with the Soviet Union but because of the history of discord between the two nations, the American government gave far less information to Soviet forces than were given to England which was regarded as a more honest and trustworthy ally. Such discretion is based upon the assumption that once the common enemy is removed, then the two countries will return to their adversarial relationship, which is exactly what happened between the United States and the Soviet Union.

Historically it has been shown that lying is often in the best interest of the citizens of one's country. One historical example springs instantly to mind. In the First World War, the United States military was able to equip their aircraft with advanced navigation and targeting equipment that allowed American planes to stealthily shoot down enemy German aircraft with ease. Rather than admit that the country was in possession of this advanced technology, pilots were encouraged to attribute their skills to good eyesight. This is just one example of the benefit of lying in international politics. During the Second World War, the British had found out that German were had learned to crack one of their radio codes and instead of abandoning this system, used it to hand over false information to the enemy. This is not necessarily lying, but it is certainly deliberately dishonest methodology. In times of war, countries have used dishonesty as a means of keeping the enemy off guard and in preventing them from being able to learn the strengths of the opposing militia.

Another form of international lying which is arguably more controversial is when a government imposes a form of action for one set of reasons when they actually have another motive for them (UChicago 2012). A specific item that comes to mind is the issue of international sanctions which have been placed on countries like Iraq by the United States. Supposedly the reasons for such actions are the crimes against humanity which have been perpetrated by the nation. There are currently sanctions in place against Iran because of the belief that Iran is progressing with a nuclear program which the United States and other countries are wholly against. Sanctions are designed to force a nation to cease a course of actions because their citizens will be negatively impacted through lack of necessities (Lektzian 2001,-page 62). Many people however assert that the real reason for such actions is not fear over a nuclear program or international disputes, but because of the interests of the sanctioning nation. In Iran, the United States wants oil and so they have an ulterior motive for imposing sanctions which are not clearly stated by the government. This is omission…[continue]

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