So my friend Carl Scott has this very interesting reaction to the report that some Democrats are seriously considering an organized opposition to funding the surge in Afghanistan:

“My initial reaction to that report was repugnance, but having thought a bit more, and about how uneasy Obama’s speech makes me, I’m wondering whether conservatives should urge their Republican reps to vote with such a Democratic Congressional opposition to the war, assuming it does emerge.

My reluctant reasoning is as follows:

Proposition One: the Obama strategy, as announced, is more likely to fail than not. Why? A) A general sense from the speech and past speeches/actions that he doesn’t really want to win, that everything said is to be subjected to regular reappraisal and weaslely re-interpretation as needed. B) The largely unexplained promise(?) to withdraw(all? just the 30,000?) in 18 months, which as stands, is harmful to our troop morale and fatal to gaining cooperation from ordinary Afghans.

Proposition Two: A) “More likely than not to fail” is unnacceptable odds. A clearly ennuniciated strategic retreat (perhaps keeping Kabul) with warnings to Taliban of consequences if they aid attacks against us, is better for our interests. B) The horrors that will come with the likely reinstitution of the Taliban regime in much of the country will be excrutiating, but this will come anyway, albeit more gradually, if we drift into failure. The blood and the betrayal of many an implicit promise to the Afghans will be on our American hands, and arguably on our American conservative hands even more so, but so be it as the lesser of evils.

That is, in this situation, BOTH “All in” and “Fold” are better than “Half in.” Obama is far more half-in than all-in at present.

Proposition Three: President Obama could give a much firmer assurance, albeit still provisional given the democratic nature of our system, that he will pursue a counter-insurgency victory-seeking war of indefinite duration during his term. The mere prospect of a Republican “opposition to a half-assed war” joined in Congress with a Democratic “opposition to war in general,” can pressure our commander-in-chief to more forcefully and less ambiguously articulate the war’s goals and his commitments to it.

What do people think of this? Is it a good position to take? Is an anti-funding vote even likely to have immediate effect? Can we responsibly play political chicken this way with funds for troops?

But how can we not try to oppose the McNamara of our time, if that’s what we honestly think his strategic leadership amounts to?”

More on: Etcetera

Articles by Ivan Kenneally

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