Its frankly weird to see the Republican presidential candidates sparring over Afghanistan and Iraq. For as long as most of us can remember, the GOP has nearly always been in favor of whatever military actions the White House comes up with. Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, Cambodia, Grenada, Panama, Somalia, Iraq I, Afghanistan, Iraq II all enthusiastically supported by most of the GOP. Until now. Faced with an economy in the toilet, bin Laden at the bottom of the Indian Ocean, and the vast majority of Americans wanting us out of Afghanistan (or as *The Onion calls it, Satans Catbox), the GOP has become sharply divided. The neo-conservatives fantasy that America should rule the world by force is finally, albeit slowly, being questioned more publicly by other Republicans. Granted, many Democrats have gone along with past invasions and bombings, too and it was Obama, remember, who "surged" in the Catbox but then, their public fights over wars are old news. When a majority of Republicans want to withdraw, that's real news.
Even the Republicans leading presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, is calling for American troops to leave the Catbox as soon as possible. Rep. Ron Paul, also a White House candidate, has long been a critic of interventionist foreign policy; the difference this time is that hes getting roaring applause and cheers from GOP crowds when he calls for an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan. And the GOP candidate that many pundits say would be the partys best shot against Obama, former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, says there is no available winning strategy in the benighted country and we should get out ASAP.
Predictably, the partys neo-cons are really upset. Yesterday, both U.S. Sens. John Lookin for a fight McCain and Lindsay Does this uniform make me look straight? Graham strongly criticized Republican war critics. Graham chastised them, claiming that a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan will be a colossal national security mistake. McCain, on ABCs This Week, said, I wish that Candidate Romney and all the others would sit down with General Petraeus and understand how this counterinsurgency is working and succeeding." "Working and succeeding?" Damn. McCain and Graham are hopeless; for them, the answer to every foreign problem is Send in the troops and/or Bomb the hell out of the place. Thank God that even members of George W. Bushs party are seeing the light. Too bad we had to go through 10 years of bloodshed, death and a trillion dollars first, but at this point, lets just give thanks for small favors.
Another War is always the answer advocate, Defense Sec. Robert Gates, opposes quick withdrawal, too, and yesterday offered reassurance that we will end our combat role by 2014. He also said we shouldnt be concerned about how much the war in Afghanistan is costing. I think its a mistake to couch the question in terms of the cost of war, said Gates. Whats the cost of failure? Well, Sec. Gates, 2014 is about three years too late to suit the American public. And as far as the cost of failure goes, were now looking at the cost of failure that is, American policymakers failure to take Osama bin Laden seriously when he said his goal was to wreck our economy by getting America bogged down in Middle Eastern land wars. If we dont want to go the route of every other stupid empire that crashed because it stretched itself too thin while allowing the homefront to go to the dogs, Id say those withdrawals need to start right away.