Exum counters Bacevich:

Just because you disagree with the Obama Administration on Afghanistan does not mean that the administration lacks a moral compass. They probably just did a strategic and moral cost-benefit analysis and arrived at a different conclusion than Bacevich did. I understand that Andrew Bacevich is upset about our policy in Afghanistan. But concluding as he does -- without any evidence to suggest that moral considerations, such as an obligation to the Afghan people, were not weighed in the president's decision-making process -- that the president lacks a moral compass is ugly, unnecessarily ad hominem, and beneath a man of Bacevich's intelligence and humanity. If Bacevich was serious, he would consider not just the strategic risks to a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan -- which is what he is apparently advocating -- but also the moral costs to be paid by the Afghan people we leave behind. In that light, the moral economics of war are no more black and white than the strategic economics of war. We're left with hard choices and trade-offs, and the public discourse is very poorly served by those who pretend they are easy.

Larison attacks from a different angle:

A truly morally vacuous administration would take the far easier way out, which is to have a much smaller U.S. presence augmented by steady bombardment of the countryside for years to come: there would be far fewer American casualties, the humanitarian disaster created by such tactics would be shrugged off with Rumsfeldian indifference (“stuff happens”), and each new wave of strikes would create another generation of embittered and radicalized enemies whose existence would justify continuing the war indefinitely. This would be an essentially amoral policy that takes no account of the dangers of blowback, but it would be immensely popular and politically very expedient. What should concern us is that Obama’s instinct to accommodate will eventually lead him to embrace such an amoral policy, at which point he will be deserving of the contempt Prof. Bacevich evidently wants to heap on him now.

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