War And Medical Insurance

Thomas Sowell deconstructs the Democrats’ medical care strategy:

… One plain fact should outweigh all the words of Barack Obama and all the impressive trappings of the setting in which he says them: He tried to rush Congress into passing a massive government takeover of the nation’s medical care before the August recess– for a program that would not take effect until 2013!

Whatever President Obama is, he is not stupid. If the urgency to pass the medical care legislation was to deal with a problem immediately, then why postpone the date when the legislation goes into effect for years– more specifically, until the year after the next Presidential election?

If this is such an urgently needed program, why wait for years to put it into effect? And if the public is going to benefit from this, why not let them experience those benefits before the next Presidential election?

If it is not urgent that the legislation goes into effect immediately, then why don’t we have time to go through the normal process of holding Congressional hearings on the pros and cons, accompanied by public discussions of its innumerable provisions? What sense does it make to “hurry up and wait” on something that is literally a matter of life and death?

If we do not believe that the President is stupid, then what do we believe? The only reasonable alternative seems to be that he wanted to get this massive government takeover of medical care passed into law before the public understood what was in it.

Moreover, he wanted to get re-elected in 2012 before the public experienced what its actual consequences would be.

Unfortunately, this way of doing things is all too typical of the way this administration has acted on a wide range of issues…

And Bret Stephens examines the consequences of abandoning Afghanistan:

…Afghanistan matters not because that’s where 9/11 was conceived. It matters because that’s where it was imagined.

In 1979 the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan. A little less than a decade later, the Soviets left, humiliated and defeated. Within months the Berlin Wall fell and two years later the USSR was no more. Westerners may debate whether credit for these events belongs chiefly to Mikhail Gorbachev, Ronald Reagan, Pope John Paul II, Charlie Wilson or any number of people who stuck a needle in the Soviet balloon. But in Islamist mythology, it was Afghan and Arab mujahedeen who brought down the godless superpower. And if one superpower could be brought down, why not the other?

Put simply, it was the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan that laid much of the imaginative groundwork for 9/11. So imagine the sorts of notions that would take root in the minds of jihadists—and the possibilities that would open up to them—if the U.S. was to withdraw from Afghanistan in its own turn.

Notion One: Attacks on the scale of 9/11 are by no means fatal to the cause of radical Islam. On the contrary, despite the huge losses the movement has suffered over the past eight years, it would emerge from a U.S. defeat in Afghanistan with something it was denied in Iraq: a monumental political and ideological victory from which it could recruit a new field of avid jihadists. Ergo, further attacks on the U.S. homeland could yield similar long-term benefits.

Notion Two: The U.S. has no stomach for long-term counterinsurgency. Ergo, surrender or political accommodation to apparent U.S. military success is pointless; if you hold out long enough, they leave and you win.

Notion Three: The U.S. is not prepared to stand by its clients in the Third World if it believes those clients are morally tainted. That happened to South Vietnam’s Nguyen Van Thieu, it happened to the Shah of Iran and, if the U.S. leaves Afghanistan, it will happen to the lamentable Hamid Karzai. Ergo, other shaky or dubious U.S. allies in the Muslim world—Algeria, for instance, or, yes, Saudi Arabia—are prime targets for renewed assault.

Notion Four: A U.S. that doesn’t have the stomach for a relatively easy fight like Afghanistan, where even now casualties are a fraction of what they were in Iraq during the worst of the fighting, will have even less stomach for much tougher fights. Ergo, maximum efforts should go into destabilizing and, not implausibly, taking over Pakistan…

And from here the possibilities flow. Withdrawal from Afghanistan, and a Taliban takeover in Kandahar and perhaps Kabul, would plunge Afghanistan into another civil war infinitely bloodier than what we have now. Withdrawal would force Islamabad to abandon its war on terror and again come to terms with its own militants, as it did in the 1990s. Only this time, it wouldn’t be clear who is patron and who is client. Withdrawal would give Pakistan’s jihadists the freedom to shift fronts to India, with all the nightmare scenarios that entails. Withdrawal would invite the al Qaeda remnant in Iraq—already on an upswing—to redouble its efforts, and do so with the confidence that the U.S. has permanently soured on Middle Eastern interventions.

This is a partial list. The alternative is a winding and bloody struggle to defend and improve a hapless and often corrupt government in a godforsaken land of often (though by no means pervasively) ungrateful people. This is not the noblest fight, and no sane nation would wage it by choice. But we did not choose it and, if we keep our nerve, we can win it. Otherwise, the consequence will be ashes flying again in our own streets, something to remember on the eve of another 9/11 anniversary.

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