Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Some Hope for Republicans?

It's refreshing to see that some of the Republican candidates for the presidency are expressing some "nuanced thought" (as the NYT report describes it) to the issue of the US's wars in Libya and Afghanistan, with some of them (especially Mitt Romney  and Jon Huntsman, who seem to be two of the stronger candidates to grasp the brass ring next summer; a nomination of either Bachmann or Palin - or Gingrich - would signal the suicide of the GOP) talking about the need for a drawdown of troops in Afghanistan.

That prescription, of course, runs diametrically opposite to that of the John McCain-Lindsey Graham-Joe Lieberman troika of wizened hawks.  And Lindsey Graham has served notice to Romney that he'd better straighten up.

Romney made the mistake (in Graham's view) of asserting during the recent GOP candidates debate:
“Our troops shouldn’t go off and try to fight a war of independence for another nation. Only the Afghanis can win Afghanistan’s independence from the Taliban.”

Graham's retort:
“From the party’s point of view, the biggest disaster would be to let Barack Obama become Ronald Reagan and our people become Jimmy Carter. . . .  this is not a war of independence, this is a war to protect America’s national vital security interests.”

(The Hill reports, by the way, that Graham's view was seconded by the inimitable senator from Oklahoma, James Inhofe - the same creationist evangelical  who once brought his Bible to the floor of the Senate to quote it as proof that only Israel had a right to Palestine, because the word of God says so.)

This, of course, from the man who has also declared that the US has the right to establish permanent air bases in Afghanistan.  As recorded in January 2011 an interview with David Gregory:
And the idea of putting permanent military bases on the table in 2011 , I think would secure our national interest and tell the bad guys and the good guys we're not leaving, we're staying, in a responsible way if the Afghan people want us to stay. . . . I think it would be enormously beneficial to the region , as well as Afghanistan. We've had air bases all over the world . A couple of air bases in Afghanistan would allow the Afghan security forces an edge against the Taliban in perpetuity. It would be a signal to Pakistan that the Taliban are never going to come back in Afghanistan. They could change their behavior. It would be a signal to the whole region that Afghanistan is going to be a new and different place. And if the Afghan people want this relationship, they're going to have to earn it. But I hope they will seek a relationship with the United States of where we can have an enduring relationship, economic and militarily and politically. And a couple of air bases in Afghanistan will give us an edge militarily, give the Afghan security forces an edge militarily, to ensure that country never goes back into the hands of the Taliban, which would be a stabilizing event throughout the whole region. That has to be earned by the Afghan people, and it has to be requested by them.
The Afghans have to earn it?!

If you're looking for a 21st-century reflection of Rudyard Kipling's "White Man's Burden," there you have it.

For the sake of the nation, let's hope that the GOP candidates ignore these chest-thumpers who require "victory" at any and all costs.  They are not patriots.  Rather, they stand for an American exceptionalism and narcissism that - as the historian and former US Army officer (and Vietnam veteran) Andrew Bacevich has argued - if pursued, will hasten the ruin that our leaders have been bringing down on our heads.

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