Dan Froomkin has a unique ability to cut through the crap that pervades the Beltway and state the obvious in such a way that all but the most completely indoctrinated GOP/conservative/jumped by Jesus whacko ought to comprehend. Dan Froomkin has put together a list of lessons that we all ought to have internalized so as to never forget. We should have chiseled them into our hearts with the mess that was Vietnam so many years ago but for some insane reason we didn't. While he is specifically talking to journalists here, the lessons he highlights apply to you and me as well. They apply not just to evaluations of war and peace and national security, but also to pretty much any governmental undertaking, regardless of the promises of security, well being and other good things that may be attached.
You Can’t Be Too Skeptical of Authority
– Don’t assume anything administration officials tell you is true. In fact, you are probably better off assuming anything they tell you is a lie.
— Demand proof for their every assertion. Assume the proof is a lie. Demand that they prove that their proof is accurate.
— Just because they say it, doesn’t mean it should be make the headlines. The absence of supporting evidence for their assertion — or a preponderance of evidence that contradicts the assertion — may be more newsworthy than the assertion itself.
— Don’t print anonymous assertions. Demand that sources make themselves accountable for what they insist is true.
Provocation Alone Does Not Justify War
– War is so serious that even proving the existence of a casus belli isn’t enough. Make officials prove to the public that going to war will make things better.
— Demand to know what happens if the war (or tactical strike) doesn’t go as planned?
— Demand to know what happens if it does? What happens after “victory”?
— Ask them: Isn’t it possible this will make things worse, rather than better?
Be Particularly Skeptical of Secrecy
– Don’t assume that these officials, with their access to secret intelligence, know more than you do.
— Alternately, assume that they do indeed know more than you do – and are trying to keep intelligence that would undermine their arguments secret.
There is more good stuff in this article. It is definitely worth a read. The Bush administration should be evidence enough that we need to take the lessons of this article to heart and engrave them for eternity on our souls.
In the words of the late Molly Ivins, "The President does not have the sense that God gave a duck, so it is up to you and me."
h/t to CHS at Firedoglake