Governments lie to conceal embarrassing truths and justify it as “preserving our way of life.” This justification is quite sincere. The confusing comes from misunderstanding the word “our.” The officials are, of course, not referring to the national way of life but to their own personal way of life. Be it Obama and the neo-cons hiding pictures of U.S. torture of Muslims arrested without being allowed trial, earlier U.S. administrations “classifying” news reports about the American crime of dropping nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, or Ahmadinejad’s boys denying the rape of female demonstrators in Iranian jails, both the thinking of officials and the excuse for concealing information from their own people are the same.
The issue is clear: is transparency about political actions so that the people can judge their leaders more important or is the avoidance of “embarrassment” more important? The word “democracy” is just so much hot air without information.
Some politicians in Israel and the U.S. even go so far as to say that nuclear war is justified against a country that does not provide the international community with sufficient “transparency.” I support the goal of transparency. National security is not possible without nuclear transparency; similarly, democracy is not possible without political transparency. No one claims Iran is actually doing anything warranting an attack; rather, the claim is that we lack the evidence that it might not be developing the capability to do something. Nuclear war, the ultimate crime that a human is capable of committing, is justified as a response to the lack of information!
At least the extremist politicians in Iran are consistent: they oppose transparency about their nuclear research and about their abuse of Iranian protestors. It is harder to understand American politicians who claim that photos of bomb damage, photos of torture, photos of the caskets of dead soldiers should be concealed from the American people but demand nuclear transparency from Iran. They demand that Iran freely share critical national security information with the world (as it should, as should Israel) while claiming the right to conceal information about their abuse of authority.
They would be on much firmer ground demanding transparency from others if they provided transparency about themselves.