Truth in war is often manipulated for a various reasons. There are a variety of factors that can reshape the real, full truth into something that could be considered the accepted truth or go as a conspiracy in the eyes of the public.
More often than not, the truth is kept hidden. Countries try to hide their true political intentions underneath the surface. Rarely, the truth can be surfaced, but usually it is in response to a major event. In World War I, Germany had promised the United States(who was neutral at the time and had diplomatic relations with both sides of the war) via the Sussex Pledge not continue sub-marine warfare and bombing of merchant and passenger ships that entered the points of conflict. According to Linda Alchin, “On February 1, 1917 Germany went back on its promises of the Sussex Pledge and resumed unrestricted submarine warfare and German U-Boats began to attack American ships in the North Atlantic.” Germany without any prior notification, attacked U.S ships via U-boat submarine warfare. Germany’s other underlying intentions unfortunately surfaced that helped cause the intervention of the U.S in World War I. While under the Sussex Pledge still, it was later deciphered by British cryptographers, the Zimmerman note was uncovered which was a note to Mexico from Germany’s Prime Minister Arthur Zimmerman to ally with them by taking care of the United States in exchange for territory (Alexander and Childress). The truth is buried by countries to help them in their political agenda. This problem is heavily prevalent in wartime, but it is exhibited during times of no conflict as well.
The truth is also hid from the people who inhibit their own country by its public officials or government. The United States is no exception to that rule . According to “The Information Security Oversight Office’s Report to the President,” millions upon millions of documents are being classified in an upward trend, while the number of documents being declassified has dropped significantly from previous years (Jones).
With the understanding that releasing some of the documents is crucial to protect the country, the amount being withheld is prodigious. The numbers of documents being classified peaked during the Great Recession, which can make the people think of many theories or conspiracies that may have happened during the time, but the public can only guess to what information is being concealed.
Another problem with truth being the first casualty of war is that the real truth can be subjected to manipulation and change. This can happen for various reasons when trying to find out the truth. in today’s world, the truth can be sacrificed in order to preserve the lives of the journalists themselves reporting on the topic. This can happen especially for the journalists working in the middle east. It is tremendously difficult to get foreign correspondents and journalists into the area during the conflict. Even when they get into the area, their expectations of the issue is often not the case according to David Ignatius:”Foreign correspondents like to believe that they travel with an implicit ‘white flag’ — a pledge of independence and neutrality that will be respected by everyone. But we don’t live in that world. We live in an embedded world, in which journalists are often required to take sides, or to see things from only one side, as a condition of doing their jobs.” With the taking of one side, that journalist can be subject to becoming bias on the conflict. Once they have taken a side, the journalists can not simply switch over to the other and get their views on the conflict. The lives of these journalists are at stake each and everyday. From the article “The Obstacles to Reporting the Truth About War,” from it was written near the end of 2010, “at least 355 journalists and media professionals have been killed since 2003” (Assir). With so many casualties in this conflict, journalists can alter the real truth for their own protection.
With the possibility of the truth being manipulated sometimes, sometimes it’s not the truth itself that changes, but the country’s or people’s interpretation of the truth can be changed. Sometimes, a county’s truths and values get sacrificed in times of war. According Christopher A. Preble, the Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, “Americans were willing to expend considerable effort to dislodge Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan in World War II. And we waged these wars in league with some truly reprehensible characters (Exhibit A: Uncle Joe Stalin). Most Americans were willing to tolerate alliances with brutal tyrants because the alternatives were far worse, and because the security stakes—for the United States—were fairly clear.” The United States batted an eye and worked together with the Soviet Union to stop Germany, even though Stalin was just as brutal as Hitler. Preble also goes onto say that the U.S continues to stand down from our true views with questionable allies in order to stop a perceived lesser evil when in reality they can be just as bad: “Back in September, the New York Times published a long story documenting how our Afghan allies regularly brutalize young boys, and how U.S. troops had been ordered to look the other way.”