What are we willing to sacrifice in war on ISIS?

The Boston Globe

March 11

Commentary by: Linda Bilmes

Topic: The costs of war

 THIS WEEK Congress took up the president’s request to use military force against the Islamic State. The president’s draft would authorize a wide-ranging effort over three years, but prohibits “enduring” ground operations. It would replace the 2002 authority for military action against Iraq, but leave untouched the sweeping 2001 law, enacted by Congress in the immediate aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks, to grant President George W. Bush permission to use “all necessary and appropriate force” against nations, organizations, or persons he deemed involved in the planning or carrying out of terrorist attacks.

Inevitably, the Obama proposal is bogged down in partisan bickering; Republicans claim it is too narrow and Democrats say it is too wide and vague. More than 14 years after 9/11, with trillions of dollars spent and thousands of lives lost in Iraq and Afghanistan, what is urgently needed, and what has been absent from the debate, is a serious discussion of the big issues: How much are we willing to commit in money, national effort, and American lives in an attempt to meet this current threat?

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