Searching for the Exit?

exitThe scuttlebutt that’s coming out now in Washington is that President Obama doesn’t much like the plans for Afghanistan offered by his advisors:

WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama does not plan to accept any of the Afghanistan war options presented by his national security team, pushing instead for revisions to clarify how and when U.S. troops would turn over responsibility to the Afghan government, a senior administration official said Wednesday.

That stance comes in the midst of forceful reservations about a possible troop buildup from the U.S. ambassador in Afghanistan, Karl Eikenberry, according to a second top administration official.

In strongly worded classified cables to Washington, Eikenberry said he had misgivings about sending in new troops while there are still so many questions about the leadership of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Despite his having campaigned for two years on the urgency and necessity of the war in Afghanistan, it’s not difficult to see why President Obama would have misgivings on doubling down there. Victory at a cost and in a timeframe acceptable to the American people is far from assured and may even be impossible. And then there’s domestic criticism along the lines of Nicholas Kristof’s column in the New York Times today:

So if President Obama dispatches another 30,000 or 40,000 troops, on top of the 68,000 already there, that would bring the total annual bill for our military presence there to perhaps $100 billion — or more. And we haven’t even come to the human costs.

As for health care reforms, the 10-year cost suggests an average of $80 billion to $110 billion per year, depending on what the final bill looks like.

Granted, the health care costs will continue indefinitely, while the United States cannot sustain 100,000 troops in Afghanistan for many years. On the other hand, the health care legislation pays for itself, according to the Congressional Budget Office, while the deployment in Afghanistan is unfinanced and will raise our budget deficits and undermine our long-term economic security.

So doesn’t it seem odd to hear hawks say that health reform is fiscally irresponsible, while in the next breath they cheer a larger deployment of troops in Afghanistan?

Meanwhile, lack of health insurance kills about 45,000 Americans a year, according to a Harvard study released in September. So which is the greater danger to our homeland security, the Taliban or our dysfunctional insurance system?

It seems to me that similar criticisms could be made of all of our military spending, our overseas military bases, our foreign aid, of supporting embassies in other countries, and so on. Are those really the alternatives or is it a false choice? Might we withdraw from Afghanistan only to find ourselves spending even more on defense a couple of years down the road?

I think I’ve made my own views pretty clear. I think that there are tactical, strategic, legal, and moral reasons for not simply withdrawing from Afghanistan but, following the lead of Afghanistan authority Rory Stewart, I think that we need to take a longer, more modest, and less military view. I think that we’ll need what Ralph Peters has described as “a compact, lethal force” in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future but I’m skeptical of any large force of ours in Afghanistan whether for counter-terrorism as has been suggested by Vice President Joe Biden or counter-insurgency as Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s plan that’s on the president’s desk now provides.

What will the president do? What should the president do?

Please leave your policy prescriptions in the comments including the strategic objectives, how you’d accomplish them, the relationship between your preferred approach and the strategic objectives, and how you would mitigate the risks of your approach.

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Dave Schuler
About Dave Schuler
Over the years Dave Schuler has worked as a martial arts instructor, a handyman, a musician, a cook, and a translator. He's owned his own company for the last thirty years and has a post-graduate degree in his field. He comes from a family of politicians, teachers, and vaudeville entertainers. All-in-all a pretty good preparation for blogging. He has contributed to OTB since November 2006 but mostly writes at his own blog, The Glittering Eye, which he started in March 2004.

Comments

  1. […] “Searching for the Exit?” […]

  2. DL says:

    As with all leftists in America -their strategy for fighting our enemies is always – an exit strategy; unless it’s their civilian army, coming sooner than most folks want to believe.

  3. odograph says:

    Something has occurred to me from time to time, though I’m not sure I’ve mentioned it here:

    I believe in self-determination, that every people should have the chance to chart their own future, and to shape their own government. Where I might be a little bit of a hard-ass is that I think it is also their own responsibility. When a people punt, and choose disorder and violence, there isn’t much an outside force can do about it – short of true colonialism.

    When we built water treatment plants in Iraq, and they were blown up, and rebuilt, and blown up .. we sadly had our answer. The Iraqi people didn’t have the civil cohesion to put clean water ahead of internal strife.

    If Afghanistan doesn’t have it either, there’s not much we can do about it.

    (This answers why parallels drawn to post-war Germany and Japan were wrong-headed. Those nations had civil cohesion.)

  4. yetanotherjohn says:

    One solution is to let Afghanistan go back to rival war lords, with the US playing a “600 pound gorilla” role. Special forces can meet with war lords and offer US air support against war lords who work with Al Qaeda/Taliban or attack the US. This is the approach that worked in 2001. It doesn’t bring peace to Afghanistan, but it does let us reduce our footprint dramatically. It is dependent on having air bases and air routes for supply. It also means Afghanistan will likely not become a unified nation in the short run, that we will be dealing with people because they are the enemy of our enemy (not because they themselves are any morally better than our enemy) and that muslim extremists who want to kill Americans will be drawn to Afghanistan.

    This would likely not allow Afghanistan to be used as a training base for attacks against the US (or at least no more than Lebanon or Iran could be used for the same purposes).

  5. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    Dave if 45,000 people died for lack of health insurance, how many died WITH health insurance? Everyone else that has passed? If a million people died in the United States and only 45,000 of them died of lack of health insurance. I am ridding myself of mine. Obviously health insurance kills far more people than those who do not have it. There are many things people die from. Lack of health care insurance is a new one. I just proves you cannot, no matter which institution we are talking about, educate the stupid out of some people. To even try to use that as some sort of reason not to finish the fight in Afghanistan is simply misdirection. Obama campaigned on the promise he would win in Afghanistan. He was a U.S. Senator so there is no reason he would not have had available to him facts to base his campaign on. What we have as our chief executive officer is a man, not unlike the shooter in Ft. Hood, who listened to hate speech about the United States in his place of worship. Both attacked America, one is just way more open about it. Pay attention, this want to be tyrant is in the process of taking your liberty.

  6. Triumph says:

    What will the president do? What should the president do?

    First, sack Joe Biden.

    Second, nominate Lou Dobbs to be VP

    Third, resign, making Dobbs President.

    Fourth, President Dobbs bombs the hell out of them and we take care of the problem through patriotism rather than cowardice.

  7. […] Covering this Story: JustOneMinute, Jules Crittenden, The Jawa Report,  Outside The Beltway, , BLACKFIVE, Stop The ACLU, Another Black Conservative,  JammieWearingFool, Moonbattery,  Don […]

  8. Ugh says:

    I do appreciate ZRIII’s spoof comments. Good on ya!

  9. Derrick says:

    I do appreciate ZRIII’s spoof comments. Good on ya!

    I agree though Triumph’s seemed slightly more serious.

  10. spago says:

    Meanwhile, lack of health insurance kills about 45,000 Americans a year, according to a Harvard study released in September. So which is the greater danger to our homeland security, the Taliban or our dysfunctional insurance system?

    The Harvard study is bs

  11. steve says:

    Did you read the harvard study? I thought its methodology was pretty fair for such a large study.

    On Afghanistan, I have been impressed by Major Khan’s reasoning in his recent SWJ posts, though he is probably a Muslim and just out to kill us. At any rate, let the tribes hold a traditional meeting and selct their own leader, not have an election in a country where 95% of the people cannot read. Then we should pick a few areas and help them to develop. Demonstrate what it means to accept help and progress. Let those areas lead by example so that other tribes will want the same things. Let them ask us to help rather than our pushing our ways upon them.

    http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/journal/docs-temp/319-khan.pdf

    Steve

  12. spago says:

    Conclusions. The Institute of Medicine’s estimate that lack of insurance leads to 18,000 excess deaths each year is almost certainly incorrect. It is not possible to draw firm causal inferences from the results of observational analyses, but there is little evidence to suggest that extending insurance coverage to all adults would have a large effect on the number of deaths in the United States.

    Read the whole thing at the link

  13. Wayne says:

    Spago you are quite right. Many predict that universal health will lead to a much lower quality of care which could lead more so call “excess “deaths.

    Hate to state the obvious but healthcare can only extend life or sometime quicken death. Stating how many die without healthcare is a bit B.S after all more people die with it than without it.

    A better study would be life-span\quality expectancy with\without universal healthcare although most of that would be speculative.

  14. The taxonomy of death:

    Excess Deaths = Me or people I like.
    Deserved Deaths = Guys driving like a**holes on the 405.
    Premature Deaths = John Lennon, Heath Ledger.
    Overdue Deaths = Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri.
    Undeaths = Keith Richards, that vampire kid from Twilight.

  15. sam says:

    What we have as our chief executive officer is a man, not unlike the shooter in Ft. Hood, who listened to hate speech about the United States in his place of worship. Both attacked America, one is just way more open about it.

    Ah, Zelsdorf at his best. BTW, did you know he’s job hunting?

    Zelsdorf at the Job Interview

    Interviewer: Well, Mr. Zelsdorf, we’re impressed by your resume. Advanced degree in Idiotosophy, years of online buffoonery. But how do you think you would fit in with our Loony Tunes cast? We already have our stupid human, Elmer Fudd.

    Zelsdorf: Not knocking Elmer, but I think I can bring it to a whole new level.

    Interviewer: Oh, how so.

    Zelsdorf: For starters, I could play up the Bugs Bunny is gay angle. Elmer’s never done that.

    Interviewer: Bugs Bunny is gay!?

    Zelsdorf: Sure. Look, he’s always eatin’ a carrot, right. Well, there you go.

    Interviewer: Ah, um…

    Zesldorf: And then there’s that Marvin the Martian guy…hell, he’s not martian, he’s black and he wears that funny headgear–he’s Kenyan. I could run with that.

    Interviewer: I don’t think…

    Zelsdorf: And Daffy Duck…come on, guy’s obviously an Arab Islamical terrorist, Daf’i Duck. Could do a lot with that.

    Interviewer: Mr. Zelsdorf, these ideas are, um, intriguing, but I’m not sure our audience is, ah, ready for them.

    Zelsdorf: Really? Did you see the video of that Michelle Bachman rally? Believe me, those folks are ready.

    Interviewer: Well, I don’t know…

    Zelsdorf: And then there’s Sylvester the Cat.

    Interviewer (warily): What about Sylvester?

    Zelsdorf: He’s homeless, eats out of trashcans. Always looking for a handout. And he’s a, whatchamacallit, a mulatto. Think of the possibilities there.

    Interviewer: Mulatto?

    Zelsdorf: Yeah, he’s black and white.

    Interviewer: Mr. Zelsdorf…

    Zesdorf: And there’s the whole nazi-communist thing.

    Interviewer: The what?

    Zelsdorf: The nazi-communist thing. You know, all these animals…

    Interviewer (Rising): Gosh, gee, what does the time go? I’m afraid I’ve got another interview scheduled. Thanks for coming in. We’ll be in touch.

    Zelsdorf: I’ve got a lot more ideas.

    Interview. I’m sure you do.

  16. Wayne says:

    Michael good one

  17. steve says:

    “Conclusions. The Institute of Medicine’s estimate that lack of insurance leads to 18,000 excess deaths each year is almost certainly incorrect. It is not possible to draw firm causal inferences from the results of observational analyses, but there is little evidence to suggest that extending insurance coverage to all adults would have a large effect on the number of deaths in the United States.

    Read the whole thing at the link”

    Is there a non-gated version? I already pay subscriptions to too many medical journals. My initial thought is that the author may be sort of right, but it is irrelevant. Large public health studies seldom find causes per se, just associations, which is the assertion made in the new Harvard study.

    As I teach my medical students, we then have to see if this fits with what we actually see in practice. I think it does. There are many conditions that if not adequately treated will progress to early death. A lack of ability to pay for that chronic care would lead to early death and/or disability. The first to come to mind is treatment aimed at preventing renal failure. Getting the right care, including access to the right specialists, is pretty effective. We see the results of inadequate care among our clinic population pretty often.

    Steve

  18. JVB says:

    Zeldorf: must have hit a nerve in Sam….so much time and effort. Oh and BTW…agree…and good luck job hunting. Unemployment Claim numbers are down and record numbers of jobs have been saved so this could be your lucky day.

  19. G.A.Phillips says:

    Zeldorf: must have hit a nerve in Sam

    lol….. have you ever seen the prayer he wrote for me…..

  20. G.A.Phillips says:

    The taxonomy of death:

    Excess Deaths = Me or people I like.
    Deserved Deaths = Guys driving like a**holes on the 405.
    Premature Deaths = John Lennon, Heath Ledger.
    Overdue Deaths = Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri.
    Undeaths = Keith Richards, that vampire kid from Twilight.

    Harry all your examples are prime except for “that vampire kid from Twilight”, I would have used “Nancy Pelosi’s face”.

  21. anjin-san says:

    There are many things people die from. Lack of health care insurance is a new one

    Well, certainly if you are ignorant…

  22. […] Outside the Beltway thinks Obama is searching for a way to exit Afghanistan. So do I and I think it will cost us more in the long run than staying and winning. Just look at the one day death toll for 9/11 and compare that to the toll for 8 years in Afghanistan and almost 7 in Iraq. Tell me the cost benefit analysis doesn’t swing to staying. What’s objectionable about Objectivism – I’ve noticed that a lot of novelists seem to be purists. I guess that is because in novels you can force a system to work. It seems to be true of bloggers too. Probably for the same reason. Things look good written down that fail when you try and put them into application. Just ask any engineer tweaking of some sort is usually required. […]

  23. Wayne says:

    Steve
    I agree with your point of that getting the proper care can help your quality of life. However universal healthcare doesn’t necessitate getting quality healthcare. Even some of those now that have insurance now don’t get quality healthcare or even seek it at times. Universal healthcare would bring in the lowest of income and rift raft. Many of the rift rafts turn up at the emergency wards now and are a strain on the system. It everyone gets it “free”, many will show up for any little thing and swamp the system resulting in lower quality care overall.

    The way bureaucracy works especially in the U.S. is it doesn’t like leaving choices up to personal judgments. This will result in the doctors being forced to take the next one in line and not allowed them to treat the ones they think have valid needs instead of ones that are seeking attention attention because they have a miserable life.

  24. sam says:

    Universal healthcare would bring in the lowest of income and rift raft. Many of the rift rafts turn up at the emergency wards now and are a strain on the system.

    That’s pathetic, Wayne. And it’s ‘riff raff’. If you want to argue that folks in strained circumstances are, simply because of those circumstances, less deserving of health care, go ahead. But don’t think for one moment that the argument is not despicable.

  25. Meanwhile, lack of health insurance kills about 45,000 Americans a year, according to a Harvard study released in September.

    And in Little Nicky’s world, I suppose Leviathan is responsible and must address this. Makes you wonder if there is absolutely anything Leviathan is not responsible for. And thus does the concept of limited government with enumerated powers finally die. Maybe Francis Fukuyama was right about the end of history, but wrong in exactly which paradigm won.

    But notice the langauage used by Mr. Kristof here, 45,000 people didn’t die last year from a lack of health insurance, they were killed by it. Weird, I thought people died from diseases and trauma, rather than a lack of health insurance, but then I’m not trying to usurp anyone’s freedom, livelihood, or income, so I don’t feel the need for hyperbole quite this ridiculous.

  26. Please leave your policy prescriptions in the comments including the strategic objectives, how you’d accomplish them, the relationship between your preferred approach and the strategic objectives, and how you would mitigate the risks of your approach.

    Well, I wanted to, but the forum doesn’t allow comments quite that long.

  27. Wayne says:

    Sam
    Thanks for the spelling correction although it is riffraff not riff raff.

    Low income is one thing but people who are strung out on drugs and\or alcohol, and those who don’t take any care or responsibilities for themselves in other words riffraff are another. I have compassion for the first but not much for the latter. If you want to take care of all these people, go ahead nothing is stopping you but don’t try to force me to.

  28. An Interested Party says:

    Weird, I thought people died from diseases and trauma, rather than a lack of health insurance…

    And if someone has a disease but cannot afford health insurance or is under insured, what should that person do? Continuously go to the emergency room, perhaps…

  29. anjin-san says:

    However universal healthcare doesn’t necessitate getting quality healthcare.

    How about just some kind of health care? We don’t have to send them to the Mayo clinic, but basic health care? – hell yes.

  30. And if someone has a disease but cannot afford health insurance or is under insured, what should that person do? Continuously go to the emergency room, perhaps…

    What they have always done, get by as best they can and get help however they can. Sometimes that may mean going to the emergency room over and over again. Other times not.

    It is absolutely hilarious how all you see are the benefits of utopia and never the costs.

  31. An Interested Party says:

    And it is absolutely pathetic how you can’t see that people can die from a lack of heath insurance…

  32. Michael says:

    But notice the langauage used by Mr. Kristof here, 45,000 people didn’t die last year from a lack of health insurance, they were killed by it. Weird, I thought people died from diseases and trauma, rather than a lack of health insurance

    Similary, people don’t die from lack of blood, they die from oxygen deprivation, therefore we can’t blame blood loss for deaths.

  33. Wayne says:

    Just think of all the people liberals kill. By their logic imagine all the people they kill by not sending all their money to pay for someone else’s health care or not spending all their spare time patrolling for murderers or the simple fact they were not there during a murder to prevent it therefore resulting in someone deaths. How terrible for the liberals to be killing all those people. (Sarcasm off)

    The proper phrase would be the lack of health care resulted in # of deaths not “it kills”. The actual # has already been refuted so I won’t go there.

  34. G.A.Phillips says:

    Just think of all the people liberals kill. By their logic imagine all the people they kill by not sending all their money to pay for someone else’s health care or not spending all their spare time patrolling for murderers or the simple fact they were not there during a murder to prevent it therefore resulting in someone deaths. How terrible for the liberals to be killing all those people. (Sarcasm off)

    Yup, and I could bring up abortions, but they don’t care because they have rationalized murdering babies and throwing them into the garbage so that they don’t have to feel guilty or pay for thier “mistakes”.