International Affairs

“Imagine a group of experts and statesman meeting off the record, temporarily suspending their desire to predict, blog, or be on television, and spending a day or two intensely debating alternative scenarios that might emerge from a U.S. decision to bomb or not bomb Iran.  . . . The benefits of exercises where pundits and policymakers acknowledge that perfect intelligence is unattainable and where the advantages of both admitting and forgiving honest mistakes about an unknowable, uncertain future are recognized, would be enormous. If nothing else, the humility and flexibility that ensued could lead to more-effective long-range policies. Although such a process may not tell us whether bombing Iran or not is “right,” it will better prepare us for the unexpected, unintended, and challenging consequences that will surely result, regardless of which policy is chosen. Given the enormous long-term stakes of the choices before the U.S. president, it is the least that policymakers and experts can do.”

James Steinberg and Francis J. Gavin, “The Unknown Unknowns”, Foreign Policy, February 14, 2012