Wednesday, February 27

Violation or failure?

The choice of words can make a huge difference. This was reiterated again this morning when I was reading a paper on Iran. The author stressed that Iran's non-disclosure of certain nuclear reactors was a "failure" and not a "violation" of IAEA guidelines. By interpreting it as a "violation" gives the situation a different meaning (i.e. the US interpretation), when it is a "failure" on Iran's part. The distinction being made was important because so far all my readings on Iran have always conveyed a "violation" thereby affecting my interpretation and views about the issue. I agree that there is a minor distinction between the two terms, but the connotational distinction makes a big difference to the conclusion. A "violation" seems to justify sanctions, whereas "failure" makes it sound disproportional to the offense.