Addition: A reader sent in two quotes from Henry Hazlitt, libertarian economist:
“The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists in tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.”
“The first requisite of a sound monetary system is that it put the least possible power over the quantity or quality of money in the hands of the politicians.”
Hitchens has some unkind words for Pakistan. Some of his motivation is likely his anti-theism, but he does point out the following:
“Successive U.S. administrations used to keep certifying to Congress that Pakistan was not exploiting U.S. aid (and U.S. indulgence over the anti-Soviet war in Afghanistan) to build itself a nuclear weapons capacity.”
We’ve been sending a lot of checks to Pakistan (and Musharraf played us quite well, as I don’t think you can ask a leader to be too far from his people). Pakistan is not an entirely reliable partner in pursuing our aims due to the circumstances on the ground. Yet, we need Pakistani support to prevent haven across the border if the plan in Afghanistan is going to work. So, we’re making more deals and sending more checks.
He also takes a parting shot at anti-war liberals:
“American liberals can’t quite face the fact that if their man does win in November, and if he has meant a single serious word he’s ever said, it means more war, and more bitter and protracted war at that—not less.”
Part of my fear has been a sitting liberal President picking up a war and feeling pressure to act aggressively. But let’s not put more of that kind of pressure on him to spite liberalism. He’s been pretty reasonable so far in my opinion.
As for me, I don’t see how extending coverage to 30 million new people will not come without profound and potentially harmful social and political consequences (as regards personal liberty). The political system is, in my opinion, neither the best nor most efficient way of addressing the jerry-rigged health-care delivery system we have…and its rapidly rising costs. Atul Gawande, however, makes a decent, evolving, pragmatic case for some government involvement:
I do think political compromise is a necessary way to reduce the current ideological pressures on our elected officials and political system, so we can solve the problems we have, like rapidly expanding medical costs. However, I also think much of the momentum behind this bill is simply leftist (we have a moral obligation to the poor, and that obligation is best met by growing the government) and a chaotic, not sufficiently organized left in power (and splintering and coalescing) under Obama. Such is politics. I think Milton Friedman points out some problems in spending other people’s money on other people:
And I don’t think anyone arguing the ‘health-care is a right’ argument has convinced me of the necessity of this bill as it’s looking now, or that our moral obigation should take this path (rather than unite the left’s interests around common cause).
It’s a pitch for a product of course, but my guess is a similar business model is already being worked on, at least by Murdoch at the Wall Street Journal.
“When the business model change comes it will be sudden and swift because the existing paradigm will collapse everywhere at once and because large newspaper chains will accelerate the turnover. The elements are in place.”
That might be overstating the case a bit…but I wouldn’t be too surprised if we begin to see changes soon.
Haven, and Pakistani cooperation, is an important part of our plan’s success. Musharraf was playing both ends in this regard. So, how far ahead of his people can you ask a leader to be?
Is this a problem that can be overcome by Pakistan’s government?
Also from the American Conservative Blog: We really need to hold the administration accountable. Has Obama’s logic already sought defeat…will that be the new line against him?:
“As it is conceived, or at least projected for public consumption, in order for COIN to work in Afghanistan –
1) The central government must be legitimate in the eyes of the Afghan people and willing to work hand in glove with the U.S military to pursue the campaign to its proscribed ends.
2) Afghan security forces must be trained and equipped and trusted enough by the civilian population to eventually provide security and to “hold” in the long-term any territory coalition forces can wrest from the “enemy” in the current campaign.
3) The U.S military must have trust (and assistance) from the Afghan civilian population in order to gain leverage over the insurgency and to build legitimacy for the government in Kabul”
Our authors argue that Obama’s reasons for Afghanistan not being like Vietnam are quite wrong:
“First, Obama noted that Afghanistan is being conducted by a “coalition” of 43 countries — as if war by committee would magically change the outcome (a throwback to former President George W. Bush’s “Iraq coalition” mathematics).”
Well, we need to include other parties as much as possible, though their politics probably do not allow them to wage an open and extended military campaign (how about ours?). They still clearly have a stake in the outcome.
“The president went on to assert that the Taliban are not popular in Afghanistan, whereas the Viet Cong represented a broadly popular nationalist movement with the support of a majority of the Vietnamese. But this is also wrong. Neither the Viet Cong then, nor the Taliban now, have ever enjoyed the popular support of more than 15 percent of the population…”
Partially agreed. And:
“The president’s final argument, that Afghanistan is different because Vietnam never attacked American soil, is a red herring. History is overflowing with examples of just causes that have gone down in defeat.”
But they can strike us and do damage…this is the main reason I believe no sitting president can allow another attack to be plotted on his watch…
I think I understand the fear of a Democratic leader pick up an unpopular war, and getting us in deeper. It’s real, and quite valid. Perhaps Obama hasn’t really offered any new strategy or insight (and things haven’t changed that much since Vietnam). Perhaps he’s a difference-splitter looking for an exit, doing what he has to politically…
But clearly politics play a part in this discussion…and is there anything else offered?
Addition: A reader points out that we should leverage the global warming hoopla (despite the naivete and dangerous idealism…it is a world meeting) as a platform to create more representative world governance….thus leveraging this body to create better leverage in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Ha-ha.
But these are stateless actors, motivated by a violent and extreme vision of a holy war, and of modernity and the world. Islam and the West have had many points of contact for many centuries worth thinking about…
Berube is a professor of cultural studies at Penn State:
On one level, Bérubé is merely acknowledging an intellectual debt to Hall, who is best known as a founder of the cultural-studies movement in the academy. Bérubé, after all, teaches cultural studies at Penn State, andThe Left at War is part of a cultural-studies series he edits for New York University Press.”
Well, it’s not really a surprise that a cultural studies professor has written a book about the radical left (one more reason not to become a cultural studies major, in my opinion, due to the overt politicalization of the field).
“To readers I say: Engage Bérubé’s arguments, skim the block quotes that come almost every other page, and then skip the stuff on Hall (unless that’s your thing). You’ll rejoice that there’s such an intelligent and even-minded critic of the left who takes his principles seriously enough to challenge those who threaten to destroy them from within.”
It could be a useful book, if intellectually honest and accurate. Though it could just as easily be used by those on the political right to know their enemy, and seek to destroy the left, for example. So, on that note, how good are the reasons to keep institutionalizing such thinking?
Gawande likens the state of health care to farming at the beginning of this century and what’s happened since. Individual doctors, patients and communities must make their own decisions, and work constantly to innovate, share knowledge, and solve the problems they have, alongside government officials (but not top-down mandates).
“At this point, we can’t afford any illusions: the system won’t fix itself, and there’s no piece of legislation that will have all the answers, either. The task will require dedicated and talented people in government agencies and in communities who recognize that the country’s future depends on their sidestepping the ideological battles, encouraging local change, and following the results. But if we’re willing to accept an arduous, messy, and continuous process we can come to grips with a problem even of this immensity. We’ve done it before.”
Like NOAA maybe? It’s a fine line to walk and maybe we can do it.
Anyways, a libertarian friend makes the argument that while this would be nice if it worked, it’s simply more of the same: extending health-care to is akin to extending home-ownership to all (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac)…or college education to all. That’s too much egalitarianism, and look for the political and social consequences.
I don’t think she’s winning the argument right now…