Great column from the deeply unserious Nicholas Kristof:

At the end of the day, we have only so much money and so much energy. One option is to continue to devote $10 billion a month and countless lives to Iraq in hopes that our luck will somehow turn. Or we could devote those sums to health care at home and humanitarian programs all around the world — because in the long run, the best hope to defeat the jihadis worldwide isn’t to drop bombs but to build schools.

With the caveat that I actually think the schools-jihadism connection is widely misunderstood, this is precisely right. When I read something like Anthony Cordesman's report on Iraq I doubt not so much his analysis of Iraq, as his Policy Analysis 101 skills: "there is still a tenuous case for strategic patience in Iraq . . . strategic patience is a high risk strategy . . . trends are uncertain . . . there is a window of opportunity that could significantly improve the chances of US success in Iraq if the Iraqi government acts upon it."

None of that actually sounds like a properly assembled case for strategic patience to me. One doesn't, ordinarily, advocate extremely costly courses of action with low odds of success merely on the grounds that expending gargantuan sums of resources "could significantly improve the chances" of the policy working. By that standard, you could justify doing anything at all.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Summer M. Anderson

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