Bruce Grant reviews 'Why Leaders Lie: The Truth about Lying in International Politics' by John Mearsheimer

Why Leaders Lie: The Truth about Lying in International Politics

by John Mearsheimer

Duckworth Overlook, $29.99 hb, 148 pp, 9780715641569

Politics is a demanding profession that calls for skills of leadership and oratory, as well as management, analysis, and even theatre. Asking a politician to be truthful as well may be looking a gift-horse in the mouth. But we do. Misleading parliament by being ‘untruthful’ (‘lying’ is so reprehensible that it is unparliamentary to accuse a member of it) is a serious offence. In the US presidential system, where the executive is independent of the legislature and the head of government is also head of state, the great deterrent to lying is the authority that Congress has to censure and expel its members and to impeach officials, including the president.

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Bruce Grant

Bruce Grant

In an active public life as foreign correspondent, columnist, academic, and diplomat, Bruce Grant has also written ten works of non-fiction, three novels, essays and many short stories. His first book Indonesia became a classic. He was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University, Australian High Commissioner in New Delhi, foundation chairman of the Australia-Indonesia Institute, chairman of the Australian Dance Theatre, chairman of the Victorian Premier’s literary awards, and president of Melbourne’s International Arts Festival.

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