Daniel W. Drezner

Open Afghanistan/West Point speech thread

Comment away on Obama’s Afghanistan speech here.  My quick hits: Well, everyone who’s been waiting for Obama to do something unpopular to demonstrate his leadership skills should shut up for a while; My favorite bit was the Eisenhower quote: "As President, I refuse to set goals that go beyond our responsibility, our means, or our ...

Comment away on Obama's Afghanistan speech here.  My quick hits:

Well, everyone who's been waiting for Obama to do something unpopular to demonstrate his leadership skills should shut up for a while; My favorite bit was the Eisenhower quote: "As President, I refuse to set goals that go beyond our responsibility, our means, or our interests.  And I must weigh all of the challenges that our nation faces.  I don't have the luxury of committing to just one.  Indeed, I'm mindful of the words of President Eisenhower, who -- in discussing our national security -- said, 'Each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration:  the need to maintain balance in and among national programs.'" To that end, my reaction to the proposed policy is very similar to my reaction to Bill Belichick's much-discussed fourth down play a few years back.  At the end of that post, I wrote:

[I]t's possible to defend Belichick's call on fourth down as the rational, utility-maximizing decision, but conclude that he committed a series of small blunders that got the Patriots to the point where they had to convert a high-risk, high-reward play.  In other words, sometimes the criticized decision might be the right one to make, but the decisions that structured the controversial choice might not have been. 

Comment away on Obama’s Afghanistan speech here.  My quick hits:

  • Well, everyone who’s been waiting for Obama to do something unpopular to demonstrate his leadership skills should shut up for a while;
  • My favorite bit was the Eisenhower quote: "As President, I refuse to set goals that go beyond our responsibility, our means, or our interests.  And I must weigh all of the challenges that our nation faces.  I don’t have the luxury of committing to just one.  Indeed, I’m mindful of the words of President Eisenhower, who — in discussing our national security — said, ‘Each proposal must be weighed in the light of a broader consideration:  the need to maintain balance in and among national programs.’"
  • To that end, my reaction to the proposed policy is very similar to my reaction to Bill Belichick’s much-discussed fourth down play a few years back.  At the end of that post, I wrote:

[I]t’s possible to defend Belichick’s call on fourth down as the rational, utility-maximizing decision, but conclude that he committed a series of small blunders that got the Patriots to the point where they had to convert a high-risk, high-reward play.  In other words, sometimes the criticized decision might be the right one to make, but the decisions that structured the controversial choice might not have been. 

… Looking at the Obama administration’s foreign policy, which move echoes Belichick’s play-calling?

I think I have my answer now. 

This is a 51-49 decision, and I’m far from confident that he’s doing the right thing.  If that Eisenhower quote is any indication, however, I’m pretty sure that the decision-making process was solid. 

Developing….

Daniel W. Drezner is a professor of international politics at Tufts University’s Fletcher School. He blogged regularly for Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2014. Twitter: @dandrezner

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