Tuesday, December 17, 2019

The Afghanistan Papers And The Failure Theory

I was in favor of going after OBL in Afghanistan, and livid when Bush held back resources from the assault on Tora Bora in order to stockpile them for Iraq (allegedly). I was in favor of smashing the Taliban, and continued to think of Afghanistan as a good war for quite some time. I was furious about the lies that got us into Iraq, but probably not as against the war as I should have been, in part because I considered eliminating Saddam a very good thing--which it basically was.
   I rejected--and still reject--the Fight 'em over there so we don't have to fight 'em over here argument. It's roughly equivalent to: Fight 'em where they're strongest so we don't have to fight 'em where they're weakest. Which is foolish. I hate to sound like a reverse feminist, but one quasi-presupposition of that is that the lives of young men are worth less than the lives of the rest of us. Which obviously isn't true. My life isn't more valuable than the life of a young man.
   I've mostly been in favor of getting the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan for some time. Every time one side tries to get us out, the other side politicizes it, shrieking about the possible disadvantages. Without regard for the advantages. I'm no expert. Obviously. I doubt that even the experts have very good judgment about this stuff. My view for several years now has been: unless someone can make a pretty powerful argument for, all things considered, saying, then we should get out. There will be bad consequences, probably. Terrible ones, I'll bet. But that's not an argument. Or, rather, it's only half an argument. Focusing only on half arguments is maybe worse than using no arguments at all. If we get out, bad things--terrible things, even--will probably happen. But good things will definitely happen--specifically: we'll expend less blood and treasure.
   Anyway, as the author notes, the conventional wisdom (or "narrative"...bleh) is now shifting.


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