Since my flight got canceled this morning, I suppose that I have time to risk some questions to Publius' post: "Afghanistan as Therapy". Publius writes:
[O]n the domestic front, the stimulus saved a lot of jobs -- and helped stop the bleeding. But the opposition was fueled by an ideological aversion to government. Opposing the stimulus was the GOP's chance to show that they actually believe in "small government," even if it made very little policy sense. ....
Afghanistan, though, is different. It's frustrates me on a far deeper level to see people advocate for wars just to make themselves feel better. ....
It's important to remember ... that troops aren't "resources" -- they're real humans, with real families, with real children, and with real friends. If we're going to escalate in Afghanistan, we deserve to give them defined goals.
You can play therapy session all day with the stimulus opposition if you want. But not with the lives of troops -- they didn't sign up to make the Kagan family feel good about themselves.
If I thought that the Democrats went the wrong way on the stimulus, was I playing therapy?
If I am willing to commit those troops because I think that a fractured Afghanistan will destabilize Pakistan, risking the lives of millions and our own national secutiry, is it because I regard our soldiers as playthings?
Let's say that the answer to each of these questions is "yes". Let's say that I'm arguing for each of my positions in bad faith. Let's say the Kagans are as well. All of us want to risk more young lives not because we think that losing to the Taliban is worse, but to work out some testicular need of ours. War not merely as therapy, but as our personal porno stash.
How does this counter a single one of the arguments put forward by General McChrystal in favor of more troops? How does it counter a single argument made by any one of the Kagans, for that matter? Indeed, how does it counter a single one of the arguments put forward by President Obama last year, when he promised to send more combat troops to Afghanistan?
If armchair psychology is all you've got, you don't have any counterargument at all.
*Who else agrees with General McChrystal that more combat troops are needed in Afghanistan? Among others, Spanish Prime Minister (and left-wing) Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and Danish NATO Chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Note, too, that these additional combat troops would be part of a coordinated push that involved social and political adjustments to our counterinsurgency efforts. It's not just putting in more troops (although, obviously, the "therapeutic" aspect of the plan for us warmongers is the "more dead youngsters" part).
UPDATE: Kimberly Kagan may have an additional objection to the "testes made us do it" argument.