In a speech to the American Enterprise Institute Monday, Dick Cheney was his typical gloomy, fear mongering self. However, he did begin by stating his support for the role of open debate in a healthy political system.
However, he later included this surprising statement:
Although our coalition has not found WMD stockpiles in Iraq, I repeat that we never had the burden of proof; Saddam Hussein did. We operated on the best available intelligence, gathered over a period of years from within a totalitarian society ruled by fear and secret police.
So let me get this straight. According to Cheney, one country can invade another country based on the best available intelligence . . . and the country being invaded has the burden of proof to show that the reason for the invasion is wrong?
OK. Let’s just assume that we accept Cheney’s premise (which I don’t!) If Saddam Hussein did have the burden of proof to show that he did not have WMD stockpiles, how much better could he have met that burden of proof to show that he did not have WMD stockpiles - than by not having WMD stockpiles!?!?
Perhaps Mr. Cheney was too busy torturing small animals to show up for his high school debate classes, but once one side meets the burden of proof, it means the burden of proof shifts to the other side, where if it is not met with even stronger evidence, that side loses the debate!
And getting back to Cheney’s original premise: if I recall correctly from my high school debate days, it is the affirmative side of the debate that always starts with the burden of proof!
So, Mr. Cheney, if your goal is use pre-emptive war to bring "healthy political systems that encourage the right to open debate" to countries like Iraq, I would suggest that you brush up on your rules of debating before you start talking about who has the burden of proof!