To add some facts and historic timeline to the debate going on in the Obama Abandons Commitment to Iraq” thread.
Scott responded to the oft repeated statement, taking “our eye off the ball”, that is one of Obama’s mainstays:
However, Sen Obama’s “we took our eye off the ball” schtick is a lie. It’s a deliberate distortion of the truth; a deliberate misleading of Americans…
Indeed it is an outright lie. And one that personally makes me break out in laughter everytime Obama parrots his regular speech talking point. We did not take our “eye off the ball”. Rather we turned over those eyes to NATO and the UN… just as the DNC screams we do at every opportunity.
So I can only construe BHO’s “off the ball” statement means he distrusts using the int’l coalition under a NATO command. If that’s the case, it might be one of the only things on which I agree with the jr Senator.
Instead the hypocrisy of the left is breathtaking. Per BHO’s speech July 15th on Iraq and National Security:
Imagine, for a moment, what we could have done in those days, and months, and years after 9/11.
We could have deployed the full force of American power to hunt down and destroy Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda, the Taliban, and all of the terrorists responsible for 9/11, while supporting real security in Afghanistan.
Can we assume from this that BHO finds no need to work with the int’l framework of NATO and the UN, and prefers the unilateral approach his party so demonizes?
And about that Afghanistan escalation that he says JSM has not advocated… if not an outright lie, it is nothing less than a misleading and sleazy twist of truth. Troop levels in Afghanistan is an old story.
NATO has been screaming for more troops since fall of 2006, when they were unable to get the NATO members to kick in as few as 2500 reinforcement troops. John Kerry did the “blame Bush” trip, calling it a failure to lead, and suggesting the US send in 5000 troops.
McCain was atop the story. However he was also very conscious that it was an int’l effort, and recognized the message an increased US soldier footprint would send to the world. This was an era when Iraq was undergoing increased violence, and the US was under daily media assault. In Dec 2006, he said:
Asked if the U.S. would send more troops to Afghanistan, McCain responded, “The British have said that they will be sending additional troops, taking troops out of Iraq and into Afghanistan.
“If it’s necessary, we will, and I’m sure we would be agreeable, but the focus here is more on training the Afghan National Army and the police, as opposed to the increased U.S. troop presence.”
Praising Afghan, U.S., Canadian, British and Dutch forces for bearing “a great deal of the combat responsibilities in recent months,” McCain criticized other European allies for not sending their troops where they are more urgently needed.
Other NATO countries with troops in Afghanistan should remove their “national caveats,” which make it “extremely difficult for our NATO commanders to call on them for assistance when needed in combat zones, particularly in the southern part of the country,” McCain, a 2008 presidential hopeful, said at the U.S. base Camp Eggers in Kabul during a two-day visit in Afghanistan with three other U.S. Congress members.
While McCain was not averse to sending needed troops, he took the route of trying to hold the int’l community’s feet to the fire. Certainly we did not need another conflict that appeared to be UN-led or unilateral.
And at the same time, what was Obama doing? Did he visit his “central front in the war on terror”? No… he visited Iraq, and never set foot in Afghanistan. He used his public voice to promote withdrawal from Iraq, starting in 2007 (pre Surge, and *before* the Iraq government wanted such a withdrawal), and suggested we instead send the troops to Afghanistan. Nary a word about the NATO membership’s lack of commitment, and not one thought about how such an increased UN presence would look to the int’l community.
Even per his then in existence presidential candidate website, with a statement dated Nov 2006, he said:
By redeploying from Iraq to Afghanistan, we will answer NATO’s call for more troops and provide a much-needed boost to this critical fight against terrorism.
Hang… why bother with NATO at all then? If we’re going to be such a supermajority in troops there, then our troops should be under US commanders for the entire theatre.. not NATO.
What adds to the irony is the pesky fact that BHO chairs the subcommittee on European Affairs, which oversees United States – N.A.T.O. relations…. you know, the one that’s never met? While Afghanistan itself falls under the Senate Foreign Relations committee, BHO most certainly could have held meetings on NATOs role in that conflict. And certainly, if they were not fulfilling troop obligations, Obama most certainly could, and should have, addressed the problem of a reluctant NATO membership in Afghanistan’s plight instead of volunteering up more US forces without knowing how a larger US footprint in that arena would play in the world’s view.
Obama was bailed out on this ugly detail by none other than Joe Biden just this month. The NYTs printed a letter from Biden to Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC), after DeMint expressed his opinions publicly about Obama’s failure to address the Afghanistan plight using his subcommittee.
Senator Obama has notified me of your interest in holding a hearing on NATO’s mission in Afghanistan at the Subcommittee level during the brief period of session between the end of Congressional summer recess and expected adjournment in late September. I thank you for your interest in this vital issue.
As you are aware, under my Chairmanship the Foreign Relations Committee has addressed most Afghanistan issues at the Full Committee level. I believe that this is the best way of ensuring the most comprehensive examination of the complex issues involved, and of ensuring the highest-level Administration participation.
On the particular issue of NATO’s mission in Afghanistan, we have held three Full Committee hearings in the last 22 months: one under Senator Lugar’s chairmanship (September 21, 2006: “From Coalition to ISAF Command in Afghanistan: The Purpose and Impact of the Transition”), and two under mine (March 8, 2007: “Afghanistan: Time for a New Strategy?” and January 21, 2008: “Afghanistan: A Plan to Turn the Tide?”).
Biden’s letter has turned to bite not only himself, but Obama in their political rear ends. First, his own questionable intervention on BHO’s behalf (*after* Obama “notified” him), smells politically expedient coming after his own failed run for the Oval Office, and as he is under scrutiny as a possible Veep.
For Obama’s rear end, it was criticism of BHO himself, found on Biden’s own campaign, that reveals the letter was more politically expedient and ambitious than truthfrul. Again from The Caucus, the NYTs blog:
Back in August 2007, the Biden campaign said in a statement that Mr. Obama, of Illinois, had belatedly arrived at “a number of Senator Biden’s long-held views on combating Al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Much of what Senator Obama has proposed Senator Biden has already initiated or accomplished.”
An R.N.C. spokesman, Alex Conant, said Mr. Biden’s previous statements served to prove the point “that Barack Obama has no credibility on Afghanistan.”
“As Biden’s letter helps point out,” Mr. Conant continued, “not only has Obama neglected to chair subcommittee hearings on Afghanistan, he’s also failed to attend full committee hearings on the war.”
Apparently, not only did BHO not exercise his chair power INRE NATO’s failing role in Afghanistan, but he did not even attend the full committee hearings on the same subject, designed to alleviate him of that responsibility and jurisdiction.
As of March of this year, NATO members still hadn’t stepped up to the plate. The US, despite not being responsible for the lack of reinforcements, had already sent an additional 3200 US warriors to Kandahar Province to help take up the slack for a disinterested int’l community.
McCain, staying more closely aligned with his 2006 position, states he’s considering shifting up to three brigades to Afghanistan from Iraq, since the Surge has allowed withdrawal to commence on schedule. However he still has a mind open to getting those troops from NATO.
Just last week, McCain told reporters on his bus that the problem in Afghanistan was not troop presence — but rather the strained relationship between Afghanistan and Pakistan. “I think the situation in Afghanistan is very tough,” McCain said then. “One of the major reasons for it is not so much troop presence as the situation on the Pakistan-Afghan border. And I’ve been briefed several times by military leaders, including I met just yesterday with the ambassador from Pakistan to the United States.”
“I think we need to do whatever is necessary and that could entail more troops,” he said when asked about increased troops in Afghanistan. “We need to do a lot of things in Afghanistan. A lot of this has to do with Pakistan and the safe haven areas that I have visited in the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.
From a days earlier July 9th CBS report:
There are other considerations that need to be taken into account, according to McCain, such as the political situations along the Afghan/Pakistan border and the “effectiveness” of Afghan President Hamid Karzai.
“It isn’t just increased troop presence that’s necessary,” McCain said. “We need to address the issue in a broad variety of areas:”
While McCain mulls with commanders whether more boots is the answer – and prefers them to be NATO boots, Obama instead excuses the NATO members’ dereliction of obligation this past May in a speech in Cape Girardeau, Mississippi, saying:
“If we’re going to catch (Osama) bin Laden, or most importantly, break down al-Qaida … we’ve got to have the capacity to put more troops in Afghanistan … both our troops and NATO troops.
“Right now, we don’t have enough troops and NATO hasn’t provided enough troops because they are still angry about us going into Iraq.”
While there is truth that public opinion about the US in Iraq has made many other nations skittish about GWB’s foreign policy, making it difficult to get public approval about sending more troops to NATO in Afghanistan, the members say there are other reasons… i.e. they are are uncomfortable with involvement in a war thousands of miles away. In short… any excuse in a storm will work.
Obama has been on the POTUS campaign trail since the call for NATO troops began. The Presidential answer to a deliberately disengaged int’l community problem is not to cover their proverbial butts without question. The excuses are lame as these nations are sending troops not to be US soldiers, but forces under NATO’s command.
Just what kind of POTUS agrees to allow the NATO nations to be pissy in their ‘tudes in an issue as large as his “central front in the GWOT”? What kind of Commander in Chief offers up US soldiers to carry the burden for the entire world – and ask them to perform under the NATO banner to boot?
This is a major diplomatic error, and another issue chalked up to the “bad judgment column”. JSM was correct that working to get NATO compliance, as well as laying out a strategy that includes the problems with Pakistan, should be the first order of business.
Obama’s ME field trip reveals a POTUS who is clueless on how to win in Afghanistan, just as he is clueless on our progress in Iraq. Worse yet, in a time when it was important to use that campaign plug he has to unify and improve the int’l standing int he world, he merely shrugs off their lack of engagement, and obligates the US to do it all.
This Senator, should he win the Oval Office, will dwarf the DNC criticism of Bush by his arrogance and mistruths. And it will be the nation – chasing a dream of “change” – that pays the price for his power grab.
Vietnam era Navy wife, indy/conservative, and an official California escapee now residing as a red speck in the sea of Oregon blue.