would think that this would be the right moment for Clarke, a genuine
expert on this question, to introduce his own thoughts on the matter.
Instead, we get a ânational dialogueâ cop-out. Thatâs a close second
behind âmobilize political willpowerâ on the list of Grand and
Meaningless Policy Proposals.
Before March 2003, I would
have been with Drezner on this one. But whatever you think of Iraq, it
has shown the Bush White House to be more hostile towards honest
national dialogue than any modern wartime leader. Facts were fudged, the most reasonable critics were called unpatriotic, reality was ignored, and accountability was dispensed with completely.
This was all allowed to happen, of course, because the American people
were persuaded that Iraq/Al-Qaeda/terrorism/totalitarianism presented a
life-ending, all-consuming, gut-busting, screaming threat to every
American and their 2.3 cute, blue-eyed children. I donât know if weâre
going to try to engage Iran militarily, but if we are, Clarke has
absolutely the right idea: Job number one has to be setting the stage
for an honest debate.
Clarke doesnât just want âan honest national dialogue.â He says:
we need an honest national dialogue now on how much we feel threatened
by Iran and what the least-bad approaches to mitigating that threat are.
what Clarke calls for: An honest assessment of how big a threat Iran
represents, and a realization that some strategies to disarm them could
wind up doing us more harm than good in the process. These are two
components that were absolutely absent from our dialogue on Iraq, and I
think youâd be hard-pressed to argue that we havenât suffered for it.
So I guess Drezner can call Clarkeâs op-ed a cop-out if he wants to.
Personally, Iâm embarassed that Clarke even had to point out that an
honest national dialogue might be a good thing. But the fact is, he
did. If you donât think so, just look behind you.