Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Iran and Evidence in Latin America

There was a hearing today in the Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs about Iran and Latin America. The subcommittee is chaired by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, which tells you all you need to know about its ideological orientation. It is rabidly alarmist, and some of the testimony reflects that. Michael Shifter provides the only voice of reason:

It would further be a mistake to base a policy course merely on speculation and conjecture. It is important to adhere to the highest standards of evidence in assessing Iran’s role and what the US should do in response. Otherwise, there is a risk that policies could end up being counterproductive and only strengthening Iran’s influence in the region. Without ample evidence—and now it appears to be scant—we should not find ourselves panicked by a specter that does not exist. 

I really couldn't agree more. We need extremely high standards of evidence. Otherwise we do "stupid stuff." There are a lot of ill-informed but trigger-happy members of Congress and it would be a major mistake to let them dictate policy. Back in 2009 I wrote pretty much the same thing.

I don't trust the Iranian government at all, but given the U.S. history of overstating threats and overreaction, I need concrete evidence, certainly much more than Gates' statement about "They're opening a lot of offices and a lot of fronts behind which they interfere in what is going on in some of these countries." I need a lot more than that.

I guess I should be glad that there has been a ton written about Latin America and Iran, but thus far the United States has not done anything stupid. The bar in that regard is low.


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