I note that John Negroponte is commencing as lecturer here. We all accept as a fact of life that leaders and high officials in democracies will deceive their people in the furtherance or defense of their policies or actions — as, e.g., Tony Blair in the selling of the Iraq invasion (the story to be “fixed,” as the Downing Street Memo put it) or in the hiding of Honduras’ civil rights record and the subversion of democracy in a neighboring country (Negroponte’s charge). Still, I wonder if such patriotic or well rewarded liars should be given a lecture platform at an institute of higher learning. Seems like a bad fit, somehow.

Ramsay MacMullen

New Haven

Jan. 22

The writer is the Dunham Professor Emeritus of History.