Wednesday, December 9, 2009

All's Fair in Love and War?

A post from The Economist blog Free Exchange from Democracy in America.

"A BIG hat tip to my colleague at Democracy in America for highlighting this factoid, from Spencer Ackerman:
According to Gen. McChrystal, the Taliban pays its soldiers about $300 U.S. per month—which is more than the U.S.-sponsored Afghan government does... McChrystal said that in coordination with the Afghan government, the pay scale for the Afghan security forces has just almost doubled, to the point where it’s "almost at parity" with the Taliban now. Of course, that still means the Taliban pays its recruits more than the Afghan government does. And if the Obama administration and NATO are correct that many Taliban foot soldiers essentially fight because of economic opportunity, then this is a glaring, flashing red light of a problem.
Matt Yglesias follows up with relevant thoughts:
At the same time, this highlights a lot of lingering issues about the cost-effectiveness of our approach. Why are we spending a multiple of Afghanistan’s total GDP on fighting a war in the country? Couldn’t more be done, for cheaper, with cash for bribes and development? How is it that it doesn’t take the Taliban years to train competent soldiers?
The concept of a sunk cost really doesn't seem to have penetrated the intellectual sphere of military policymakers."


Speaking of sunk cost, this is for my friends who are in less than ideal relationships:
If you're in a sh*tty relationship that's been sh*tty for a while and you're thinking, oh but I should just stay in it because I've already given up so much to be with this person blah blah blah, mission abort! Sunk cost! Do you want to add opportunity cost to your list too?! You're young! Go find someone else who will make you happier! (divorce in my future? hope not.)

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