Nah, I don’t really do debate anymore
Fettweis 13 [Christopher, Associate Professor of Political Science and Badass Statistics at Tulane University, September 30, “The Pathologies of Power: Fear, Honor, Glory, and Hubris in U.S. Foreign Policy,” EBook/AKG]
During debates, establishing logical connections is never as important as establishing the potential, however slim, for catastrophe. The public is meant to accept these warnings on faith alone, with the understanding that the elite have more experience and expertise in these matters. Few would oppose the defense of Quemoy and Matsu once it was explained that belligerence would prevent a “catastrophic war.” Similarly, it was difficult to argue that aid to the Contras was not in the national interest once it became linked to the survival of NATO and the safety of “our homeland.” When policy makers internalize the imperative to remain credible, logic and reason can become casualties of fear. The desire to prevent negative outcomes is prudent; the fear of triggering impossible outcomes is pathological. The credibility imperative inspires decision makers to cross the line between the two time and time again. It never seems necessary to explain precisely how the predicted string of catastrophes could occur, since the mere suggestion that inaction could lead to ruin is often sufficient to shout down those who object to demonstrations of belligerence in minor crises. Once leaders internalize the belief that threats are interdependent, it seems to follow that the loss of credibility anywhere would be disastrous for U.S. interests everywhere. Foreign policy is by necessity a worst-case-scenario business, after all, and decision makers are always wise to hedge against negative outcomes. 63 Since a loss of credibility offers an imaginable (if implausible) route to national ruin, it seems logical for policy makers to pay limited costs in the present if by doing so they can avoid unlimited disasters in the future. The costs of tomorrow’s catastrophe can always be portrayed as outweighing those of today’s resolution. George Ball stood little chance against Robert McNamara. It is tempting to doubt the sincerity of those employing hyperbole. Perhaps at times these decision makers did not really believe what they said, and were instead attempting to instill fear in the public for political purposes. While divining the ulterior motives of political leaders is a popular cottage industry, it is also necessarily speculative and tendentious. There is little reason to doubt that those under the spell of the credibility imperative mean exactly what they say. After all, it is not only leaders who are guilty – analysts and scholars with little political pressure often reach much the same conclusions. Ultimately, whether statements like these are expressions of actual belief or merely attempts to sell unpopular policies to a skeptical public is not as important as the recognition of hyperbole in debates, understanding of its origins, and minimization of its effects.