Why leaders lie

July 5, 2012

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Former President Lyndon Johnson's fabrication of much of the Gulf of Tonkin incident resulted in greater powers from Congress.

Editor's note: This program was originally broadcast on March 16, 2011.

On Thursday, Worldview spends the hour with John Mearsheimer. In his book, Why Leaders Lie: The Truth About Lying in International Politics, political scientist John Mearsheimer poses that provocative question of whether it is justified, or not, for leaders to lie to other leaders, to other nations or to their own citizens.

Mearsheimer is regarded as one of the foremost realist thinkers on foreign policy.  He’s renowned for his book on offensive realism called, The Tragedy of Great Power Politics, and a few years ago he attracted great attention for co-authoring the book, The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy.
In Why Leaders Lie, Mearsheimer provides the first systematic analysis of lying as a tool of statecraft, identifying the reasons why our leaders lie to us along with the potential costs and benefits.