Sunday, October 08, 2006

Standard of proof for foreign policy decisions

I found the following statement in a NY Times article by Philip Shenon entitled "U.S. Cites Deal With U.N. Members to Punish Iran":

Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful uses, but the United States says it is a cover for making nuclear weapons.

It's the old "He says, she says" routine.

The real question is what standard of proof should the U.S., the EU, and the UN use as a basis for foreign policy decisions.

We're in a "civil quagmire" in Iraq almost precisely because we used suspicions and vague, dubious "facts" and "assertions" to convince people that Iraq was a WMD threat.

Did we learn nothing from that experience?

Actually, the Neoconservatives and the rest of the Pro-Israel Lobby appear to believe that they have learned something from the experience: It works! Suspicion and vague innuendo and wild, unsubstantiated assertions are successful and useful tools for shaping foreign policy. Their goal was "regime change" at any cost. Yes, we are now experiencing the painful costs, but they did achieve their regime change goal in Iraq. And that's their goal in Iran, not peace as most people would define it, but simply to remove a perceived threatening (to Israel) regime from power. If there are "costs" to regime change, so be it, and we must be willing to shoulder even the highest costs all in the name of so-called "regime change" that nominally promotes "freedom." Or at least that seems to be how their theory of "world order" goes.

Until we have a deep public debate on the standard of proof for foreign policy decisions, the "lesson" from the Iraq WMD "decision" will stand as if it were an immutable natural law.

Alas, I don't see the Democrats, even left-wing anti-war protesters, or European officials, or anybody standing up and saying "Wait! We need a higher standard of proof before we refer Iran to the UN or even consider unilateral sanctions."

Sure, I myself suspect that Iran really does seek to develop nuclear weapons, but the proper role of suspicion is as an investigative tool to help you identify rocks to look under, and so far no rocks have been found to be covering any Iranian nuclear weapons program. In fact, it seems that as hard as people have been looking, they still can't find anything that directly supports a full-scale Iranian nuclear weapons program or full-scale intentions to pursue such a program.

Meanwhile, lobbyists and politicians and officials in Washington, D.C. continue to "connect the dots" to misguidedly "convince" otherwise sane politicians and public officials to treat Iran as guilty without any reasonable level of proof.

Sanity will have to await more good people who are willing to stand up for "solid , direct evidence" as a minimal standard of proof.

Here we have North Korea publicly stating that it will test a nuke, but the focus of U.S. foreign policy is on "punishing" Iran for something that we have no real evidence for.

-- Jack Krupansky


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