Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Iraq and the Sunk-Cost Trap

Just a quickie today. I'm calling out Mike Huckabee and half of the Republican field for falling into what anyone with an undergraduate business degree knows to be a "sunk cost trap." Regardless of how you weigh the costs and benefits of various alternatives to how we should move forward in Iraq, it is a disservice to our troops to stay the course simply because we decided to go in the first place. To me, continuing a policy (whether that policy is good, bad or ugly) on the basis of events already behind us is a sad mistake in how to move forward in an optimal fashion.

The argument I'm calling out is the "honor" argument, which basically stakes the claim that changing course, redeploying, etc. is not an option because so many service men and women have already made the ultimate sacrifice. What bigger disservice could we do to their memory than to not learn from their sacrifice? Would it not be appropriate to allocate the lives of the men and women who carry the flag behind the fallen in a way that best serves our National Interest instead of squandering their service to a failed policy? In otherwords, the lives lost, are sadly and tragically already lost-- they are a "sunk cost" that can never be recovered. Let's ensure that any additional loss in life maximizes the benefit of security obtained from those future casualties.

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