Tuesday, October 26, 2010


In case massive tax cuts for the wealthy don't do the job, I gather that Republicans have other oh-so-fiscally-prudent ideas:

Republicans have vowed increased oversight if they win control of either, or both, chambers of Congress next Tuesday -- and with the war in Afghanistan, there's little doubt they would seek more clarity from the administration on an endgame.

For starters, Republicans would almost surely press President Barack Obama to loosen the July 2011 deadline to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan, as well as seek assurances that he would be willing to send in more troops if Gen. David Petraeus, his commander there, asks for them.

"Caps and deadlines are going to be very tough to defend with a beefed-up Republican majority in the House," said Republican strategist John Ullyot, a former staffer for the Senate Armed Services Committee. "There is no question there will be a lot more pressure on the administration to give commanders as much time as they need; the summer deadline is going to be huge." ...

But ... but ... weren't we just reading in The New York Times that the incoming teabaggers in Congress have a wide range of views on foreign policy? Well, actually that article said that Rand Paul and a couple of others are kinda-sorta skeptical about intervention, but most teabaggers utter the usual pieties about security and strength (and a few say that, um, gosh, they really plan to bone up on foreign policy one of these days). I think it's safe to say that Rand and his dad might be interventionism skepticism, but most of the rest of them will be pure Palinite neocons. Besides, there's a presidential election coming up, so it'll be time to run against Democrats as soft on evil and weak-willed, right?

Though, if we're to believe what Leslie Gelb writes at the Daily Beast, Obama may not even be waiting to capitulate to GOP demands for more war, because that's already in the cards:

The secret date for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan has been hiding in plain sight for months. It's certainly not the much ballyhooed July 2011 date, which will only begin withdrawals. It's not even July 2012 to smooth President Obama's reelection campaign. It's the end of 2014. The plan, NATO diplomats say, is for NATO leaders to formally announce this date at their Lisbon summit on November 19-20. Their thinking is to do this soon to reassure worried, friendly Afghans, to signal resolution to the Taliban, and to use their allied unity for political cushioning at home. NATO emissaries are still bargaining over exactly how many troops will remain after departure day and for what purposes. Details aside, the devastating truth is that U.S. forces will be fighting in Afghanistan for at least four more years....

Can I get a "U.S. out of Afghanistan"? Really, if either of these stories is correct, this is the moment for an antiwar movement -- and it will be popular. It'll be us and most of the public versus the "small government" teabaggers-turned-neocons and their base. We'll have the numbers in this case. But will we do anything?

Remember, if Obama is a one-term president, we'll be mired in Afghanistan throughout the administration of President Palin/Pence/Christie if we're there on Inauguration Day 2013. There's no way a Republican is going to withdraw troops; they have to come out before any change of administration or they're staying in.

Oh, and one more bit of Afghanistan news:

Russia's military could be drawn back into the Afghanistan theatre for the first time since the Red Army was forcibly expelled by US-backed mujahideen fighters in 1989 under plans being discussed by Nato officials. The proposals precede a landmark alliance summit next month, to be attended by the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev.

The officials said several joint Nato-Russian initiatives on Afghanistan were on the table. They include the contribution of Russian helicopters and crews to train Afghan pilots, possible Russian assistance in training Afghan national security forces, increased co-operation on counter-narcotics and border security, and improved transit and supply routes for Nato forces....

As Digby says:

Does this seem like a good idea to anyone at all? Is it really smart to partner with the other superpower that occupied the country and helped create the backlash that inspired Al Qaeda and the Taliban? Really?

Well, Russian troops aren't actually going to enter the country, we're told. But still, good grief.

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