Friday, June 03, 2011


": contradictory doubleness of thought, speech, or action; especially: the belying of one's true intentions by deceptive words or action" Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition

Duplicity is rampant hiding behind all kinds of guises. History is replete with many instances of such shenanigans both ‘fair and foul’ depending upon the perspective and rationale of those individuals, groups and countries who employ these techniques. (Refer to this link documenting select duplicitous actions from the 1500s to the present.)
Some examples occurring during our nation’s founding from summaries of Old West Native Americans:

“Mar 22, 1622 - He plotted the destruction of the colony so secretly that only one Indian, the Christian Chanco, revealed the conspiracy, but too late to save the people of Jamestown, who at a sudden signal were massacred, on March 22, 1622, by the natives who had earlier deemed to be friendly. In the period of intermittent hostilities that followed, duplicity and treachery marked the actions of both whites and Indians. In the last year of his life, Opechancanough, taking advantage of the ...” ...

Negotiations to free sick and injured U.S. seamen prisoners in which U.S. Navy Captain John Paul Jones engaged with representatives of Britain, France, Holland is described:

“Jan 28, 1780 - …anger over this duplicitous action was probably compounded by his [Franklin] frustration and concern about the prisoners after he received a letter … In it, Hodgson reported tha't the American captives were “suffering exceedingly”…”
From Yankee sailors in British gaols - Related web pages ...

In 1998 former Senator Gary Hart’s book, The Minuteman: Restoring an Army of the People, explores the “scope of America's military policy and accountability to its citizens.”
Hart writes U.S. foreign policy has substituted "interest" for principle and morality.

"Interest, especially national interest, is a shifting, amoral notion."

"A concept that justifies virtually any action "however immoral, duplicitous, cynical, unjust, or undemocratic."

He continues:

“It is a concept without roots in reason or morality that justifies virtually any action, whether exploiting the sinking of the Maine in 1898, misconstruing events in the Gulf of Tonkin, or selling arms to Iran to finance illegal operations in Central America.”

At the time he wrote this Saddam Hussein still ruled in Iraq and 9/11 had not occurred. Hart’s premise about acting on the basis of “interest” as it applies to the world's war against terrorism continues to raise serious thoughts. Consider the factors prompting the U.S. Iraq invasion, our involvement in Afgahanistan and most recently Libya.

"What seems in our interest today, may not be tomorrow."

U. S. foreign relations with the nuclear equipped country Pakistan comes to mind. Yet their governing officials and military hierarchy appear to be at odds internally over the true nature of our two countries relationship. Billions of U.S. tax dollars are given annually to aid this nation. Where do our monies go, especially during this time when our own nation faces financial difficulties? Are our dollars wending their way into funding weapons and support for Taliban troops fighting U.S. soldiers? Are our dollars lining the pockets of Pakistan officials? Are our dollars actually aiding an appreciative Pakistan citizenry?

Pakistan seems to have no clearly defined allegiance to the U.S. as dramatically evidenced when Bin Laden was found living there in a large compound constructed in 2005. The walled structures location is in a major city close to the country's primary military training academy. Following discovery and disposition of Bin Laden in a daring U.S. military special forces action, Pakistani government officials persist in disclaiming they had any knowledge of his presence.

Duplicitous actions, accusations of some that others are behaving in a deceitful manner persist through the twentieth century through World Wars I and II, especially during the “Cold War” with USSR. Now in the twenty-first century relations with North Korea, China and Pakistan, to name a few countries, have elicited similar concerns about nations behaviors.

Does anyone ever say what they mean and mean what they say? That seems to be what our U.S. foreign policy is all about, determining truth from falsehoods, and formulating how we represent ourselves to others. I wonder if the day will ever come when peoples and nations interact with each other honestly and openly. Would life be much less complex, or would a different set of complications arise?


  1. Is it duplicity or survival. I think most of us will do whatever it takes to protect ourselves and our family or our way of life. Sometimes people just do bad things but other times I think they are just trying to survive.

  2. I would like to see more honesty, too, but I suspect that it won't happen. Then again, I'm becoming a very cynical old lady. My trust in humankind has dwindled in recent years and not much surprises me anymore. And that makes me sad.

  3. As a historian I know history is complex, and it is duplicitous to try to summarize it in a nutshell. Honesty is in the eye of the beholder. I agree with Marcia, most (if not all) people act to preserve their own interests, and that is understandable. Dianne

  4. A thought-provoking post. Acting on the world stage without duplicity was difficult during Cold War years because we had two super powers with spheres of influence that were difficult to penetrate. For example, we told the Russians to get their missiles out of Cuba and they did, because they were encroaching on our "territory." Conversely, we failed to aid revolutionaries in eastern Europe because they were within the USSR sphere. The risks were too great.

    Now, it should be much easier for us to embark on a more straight-forward course. We can intervene militarily when it makes sense, as in Libya. But in other cases we can promote democracy and freedom just by showing tyrants we will curtail our support of their regimes unless they take steps toward liberating their people.

    I think there is hope for better times now. It would be tragic if this new era ends up being just another disappointment.

  5. Free civil speech is practiced on this blog. Free advertising space is not provided here, including under the guise of a comment.

    Comments have rarely needed to be removed, but one was on this post. Also, I noted the same deleted generic comment in English is present on at least one other blog. The comment writer's link is to a strictly commercial non-English site.

    Note that multiple times during the past year a different non-English language ad that begins in English was added to an old post and all new posts here. These comments were soon detected, then have consistently been automatically deleted without being published online.

    Such advertising tactics are not welcome here. They reflect poorly on the product being promoted, evidence a lack of respect for the blogger and blog. The policy of no such free advertising on this blog will continue.

  6. The feeling of duplicity, that we are being lied to, is very strong these days. That is because the Internet provides the means for us to learn the truth. Twenty years ago, when the elites had the mass media under better control most people simply believed what they read in the papers or saw on television, for lack of any alternative sources.
    Big change.