An elegant analysis from Scott at Blue Contrarian here on the problems we get by draining out from foreign policy analysis any idea of ‘the national interest’, with special reference to Afghanistan and the argument that by intervening there we primarily are advancing the cause of women’s rights.

Are we replacing the intellect with ’emotions’? Thus:

… we are essentially being invited to empathise, not intellectualise, and that is something I find astonishing. Not only does this kind of emotional discourse have an infantilising effect on the public – the assumption being that we are incapable of grasping complex strategic arguments – the failure to develop the argument beyond these basic moral categories is hopelessly counterproductive.

At a time of heightened public concern, and considerable confusion about the purpose of the mission, it is important that the strongest possible case is made for our involvement there, and of all the arguments in support of the mission in Afghanistan, the humanitarian one is the weakest. There are a set of solid strategic arguments for our presence in Afghanistan, and they need to be laid out before the public with precision and focus.


As given by Richard Fernandez (emphasis added):

One of the least emphasized interactions between a forward defense and anti-missile capability is their ability to make actions against a rogue-state nuclear “bootstrap load” credible.

Rogue states seek nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them as a way of creating a safe space behind which to arm even further. It is not the first nuke which is so dangerous as much as the succeeding ones that can be built behind them. Like a boostrap loader in a computer, a small, fast-loading piece of code pulls in more libraries behind it until you have vast system staring at you from behind the computer screen. With aspiring rogue states it may be the same. A missile defense preserves the credibility of forward defense because it makes intervention, although unlikely, a feasible operation of war. Without it, any aspiring rogue power can simply acquire one nuke and build away.

If President Obama eventually decides to yield Afghanistan one would think that his strategic choices are stark as well: the alternative to preventing terrorists from obtaining the space to acquire nuclear weapons is to hunker down behind the US deterrent might and missile shield.

But it seems exceedingly difficult to square a circle in which missile defenses are eliminated because they undermine deterrence, deterrence is undermined in the name of Global Zero, and anti-proliferation is undermined by ceding space to rogue and terrorist groups.

That is the worst of all worlds. What is even more astounding is if all three are pursued in the name of each other. But we live in an age of miracles.