01 November 2009

Dithering

It's no so bad to impulsively ask someone on a date but it seems insufficient as a basis for marriage. Dick Cheney has criticized Obama for "dithering" on his decision about what to do in Afghanistan. Assuming that Cheney's disdain is not proof enough that dithering is worth doing, here's something to consider.

Think about the implications of Obama's decision.

If he pulls out, we risk alienating any ally dependent on our commitment to their cause, risk destabilizing Afghanistan AND Pakistan, lose our ability to encourage the humane treatment of girls and women, lose a potential base in a region of the world that could explode into conflict, and provide the Taliban with a safe haven for plotting and launching the kind of attack that turned the date 9-11 into a tragic event.

If we stay, we continue to pump billions into a cause that has little chance of success, we lose more troops and alienate Muslims by continuing to kill both soldiers and civilians in the area, we are distracted from relationships that will do more to define our future (e.g., our relationship with Pakistan or India, for instance), pay an opportunity cost in terms of less money to spend on things like AIDs in Africa, pandemics, health care in the US, and every other single issue or problem or possibility to which the money and attention could be applied.

It is not just that the first order consequences are important and potentially counter intuitive; the second and third order consequences are worth spending time thinking through. I am going to assume that Obama is doing just that and think it is perfectly fine that he takes his time.

Time will tell, but I'd like to think that Obama is playing chess on the same checker board where Cheney was playing bumper cars.

1 comment:

slouchy said...

i agree. dithering is a compliment in this case.