Friday, November 09, 2007

A Grand Don't Come for Free, Part II

I know I said there was going to be a Part II to my first post on Colin Kahl's essay, but fortunately, Matt Yglesias and Brian Katulis said everything I was planning on saying - only better. Here's Matt:

I would also put giant red flags all around any policies whose own advocates say things like "This could work in theory -- although the probabilities are difficult to assess and are probably not particularly high." That suggests to me that we're not actually disagreeing about the merits of the sort of scheme Kahl's putting forward. I think his plan won't work and he thinks his plan won't work. He counters that not trying is even less likely to work. That's true, but of course there are costs (and opportunity costs) to staying and trying. As I said yesterday, the question of regional strategy is incredibly important here. The implicit calculus behind Kahl's thinking is that though his plan probably won't work, if it did work the gains would be very large and the costs of attempting it are very small.

I don't really see things that way....the costs of continued involvement in Iraq seem quite high.

And a teaser from Katulis' more comprehensive piece:

Kahl’s argument suffers from important substantive weaknesses. In sum, simply offering a tactical military plan that hardens up different sides in Iraq’s internal conflicts may in fact make an accommodation among Iraq’s increasingly fractured and fragmented groups more difficult to achieve. There are four key problems with his analysis....

Links to those posts, and one from Badger on the same subject matter, can be found at the Aardvark's.

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