Gas flares at the Bai Hassan oil field, west of Kirkuk in northern Iraq, in October 2017. (Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)

In their Sept. 11 op-eds, Charles Lane [“A war that failed to unite us”] and Joe Scarborough [“9/11 is still hurting us”] cited contributing factors to the polarization of American political opinion and the decline of our international standing. They missed, however, the two main reasons our country is spiraling toward authoritarian rule and the reckless destruction of social justice and environmental health.

The more obvious one is that our leaders lied to us and to the world to justify attacking Iraq. The most important one, the reason for that lie and many others, is the chokehold the oil and gas industries have on the Republican Party.

I knew, and, as time passed, everyone knew that for the second time in my life, the government was lying to justify an unjust war. We still bear scars from the Vietnam lie. Now our national psyche is further deranged by the dishonest, oil-soaked “war on terror.” And so it will remain until — and unless — our government shakes off the harness of the fossil-fuel industry.

Only truth can bring peace and unity.

Robert Emmett Morris, Washington