Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s uninformed statements on Iran and Middle Eastern geography continue. Such statements are embarrassing in a presidential candidate but will be downright dangerous should he could become the next president of the United States.
Uninformed beliefs and opinions lead to uninformed decisions. Romney’s statement on Syria being Iran’s route to the sea is just another gaffe for the opposition to laugh at now, but if Romney is elected this type of misinformation could influence presidential decisions. The result could be the demonization of the Syrian population and closure of all Syrian borders, limiting movements of refugees, most of whom are the most vulnerable members of the Syrian society. Another possibility is that Syrian civilians could end up becoming demonized for their alleged cooperation with Iran and / or terrorist organizations. The American youth, as well as aid and volunteer organizations, could be affected by such prejudices. Prejudiced opinions lead to prejudiced action and simply through human interaction these prejudices will be reinforced and continue to develop and grow.
We only need to look to the recent past to see the consequences of deciding foreign policy decisions on inaccurate information. Former President George W. Bush invaded Iraq based on reports of weapons of mass destruction. With very little evidence or analysis of what the presence of such weapons would mean for ordinary American citizens, Iraq was attacked. Although we now know that the information was wrong and there were not weapons of mass destruction, the war did not end until 2011 and the United States remains enmeshed in the region to this day.
Uninformed prejudices and actions are costly, whether measured in lost lives in Iraq or lost tax revenue that could have been invested in healthcare or education in the United States. Moreover, the reputation of the United States always suffers after such an action and the international community becomes more critical of our domestic and international politics.
In short, action should always be based on informed opinions or else costs will have to be borne. However, it is not the president that pays the price. On the contrary, it is ordinary citizens who bear the brunt of such mistakes.