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Afghanistan and Stem Cells--Skeel

I may the only person in the country who was reminded by President Obama’s speech last night of President Bush’s announcement of his stem cell policy in August 2001. In both cases, the President was announcing his policy on a controversial issue during the first year of his presidency. And in both cases, the President adopted a policy that seemed to reflect his own preferred position, but also concede a small amount of ground to critics. In Bush’s case, the prohibition on research with new stem cells reflected his opposition to stem cell research, but the policy allowed scientists to continue working with existing lines of stem cells. In Obama’s case, the troop escalation reflects his repeated emphasis on the importance of the war in Afghanistan (as contrasted with Iraq), while his proposal to begin scaling back in 2011 seems a concession to the war’s critics.

 There are at least two major differences between Bush’s compromises and Obama’s, however, and neither bodes well for the new policy. First, as David Brooks pointed out in a New York Times column several weeks ago, Obama’s stance seems intellectual and aloof rather than fully committed. Second, a compromise position on the war runs the risk of undermining the effect of the troop escalation altogether, since it seems to contemplate a prompt reversal. This may be one of those places were lukewarm is worse than either hot (a fully committed escalation) or cold (plans for a withdrawal).


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» Skeel on Afghanistan from ProfessorBainbridge.com
My friend David Skeel draws an interesting parallel between Bush's speech on stem cells and Obama's speech yesterday on Afghanistan, concluding: There are at least two major differences between Bush’s compromises and Obama’s, however, and neither bodes... [Read More]

Comments ( 2 )

My reading of Obama's plan is that he inherited this war and wants to test if there is any possibility to "fix" the Afghanistan mess before giving up in 18 months.

Personally, I think it is wasting more money and lives and will amount to nothing. We will soon have spent as long in Afghanistan as we did in Vietnam before finally bailing out of that sink hole.

To be clear: Bush's policy you are referring to involved limitations on embryonic stem cell research (ESCR), adult stem cell research continued a pace under his administrtion and yielded tremendously promising results, so we no longer hear that ESCR is needed to produce major therapeutic advances. Now we are told ESCR is needed to help us understand fundamental biological processes i.e. those who are into such research want their work funded despite it appearing to be a therapeutic dead end.