19 February 2007

The Misuse of Intelligence

This from Michael Barone today in National Review Online:

"The Bush critics' position is that we must believe without reservation or criticism any intelligence that can be used to argue against military action and that we should never believe any intelligence, however plausible, that can be used to argue for it. That's not very intelligent."

This reminded me of that quote from no less a warrior than Victor Davis Hanson: "It is as difficult to provoke the United States as it is to survive its eventual and tardy response."

This quote, offered by a friend and debate partner, has always epitomized for me the important American/Western ideal of temperance in the practice of war. Unfortunately, I don't believe the USA has demonstrated much temperance along these lines. In light of that ideal, I would not-so-subtly reword Barone's statement, putting in what seems like an appropriate bias to enforce a moderate response:

"... we must take very seriously any intelligence that argues against military action; and we must demand the highest possible standards of proof for any intelligence, however plausible or widely believed, that argues for it. This is the only intelligent and responsible approach to military action."

If you substitute "use of nuclear weapons" for "military action" it reads even better my way, I think.


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