While serving as president, Donald Trump has told more than 16,241 lies, according to the Washington Post. But one of them might be somewhat defensible. That’s the lie that Iran’s retaliation against the United States for the assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassem Soleimani did not cause any injuries.
Why is this falsehood more excusable than the others? It’s because there was a risk that if the truth were known about the over 100 troops who suffered traumatic brain injuries from the concussions of the missile attacks, the public would clamor for retaliation. And that could have led to an ill-advised war that cost untold injuries and deaths.
Lying to save lives seems better than lying to cover up misdeeds. The decision to kill Soleimani was impulsive and reckless, and probably a misdeed under international law. But Trump was willing to allow Iran a face-saving gesture rather than using it as a pretext to escalate to full-out war.
So, while I can be a little forgiving of Trump for his desire to downplay the severity of Iran’s response, that doesn’t mean that I can approve of the way he continues to minimize the impact on the wounded soldiers. At first, after he learned that dozens of Americans had suffered traumatic brain injuries, he dismissed this as “not very serious” and said that some folks were experiencing “headaches.” But, even now that the number has exceeded 100 and more than twenty are still getting treatment, Trump continues to act like he doesn’t care.
In an interview with Fox Business on Monday, the president said he didn’t think the Iranians “were looking to do too much damage, because they knew what the consequences were going to be.”
“I saw the missiles. We saw them going … They landed in a way that they didn’t hit anybody,” Trump told Fox Business’ Trish Regan.
The president said that he “stopped something that would have been very devastating for” the Iranians, an apparent reference to US de-escalation in the aftermath of the attack.
“And then a couple of weeks later I started hearing about people having to do with trauma, head trauma,” he said. “That exists. But it’s, you know, I viewed it a little bit differently than most, and I won’t be changing my mind on that.”
Try to imagine any parent receiving a phone call and getting the news that their child has suffered a traumatic brain injury. Then imagine that the president of the United States continually acted like this was not serious and nothing to be concerned about. How would that parent feel?
When the word “brain” is coupled with the words “traumatic” and “injury,” that kind of says it all. But obviously there are negative consequences, often severe and life-long. I think it would be okay now that immediate risk of war with Iran has passed, for Trump to show a little worry about the health of the people he put in harm’s way.