GOP freshman: Bring the troops home

posted at 6:58 pm on November 30, 2009 by Allahpundit

I thought of writing about Michael Moore’s cri de coeur instead, just to give you something to beat up on in the comments, but (a) Moore hasn’t been relevant for five years and (b) his screed clunks along with so many anti-war cliches that it reads more like an attempt to start a drinking game than a serious argument. The “graveyard of empires” is mentioned, as is MLK, as is the war-is-a-racket-to-scam-the-poor meme, and on and on; the only things missing are a reference to the “brutal Afghan winter” and the realization that Obama’s “landslide victory” was built in part on promises to win the war in Afghanistan, not abandon it. But then, that’s all part of Moore’s schtick. He’s forever being betrayed by the Democrats (his open letters to Obama always have a treacly Sullivan-esque “don’t break my heart” tone to them), even on matters where they’ve explicitly campaigned against his position. If you care enough to read it, follow the link.

I’d rather talk about Jason Chaffetz. This is now the third prominent conservative voice in two weeks to call for getting out of Afghanistan because Obama won’t “fight to win” or some variation thereof. Fred Thompson led the charge, and then Glenn Beck chimed in with his free advice to vets about how maybe they shouldn’t reenlist. Now here comes Chaffetz advising Obama to “go big or go home” by defining the mission specifically and relaxing the rules of engagement — before proceeding to this:

Mr. President, it is time to bring our troops home.

If our mission in Afghanistan is simply to protect the populace and build the nation, then I believe the time has come to bring our troops home.

We have successfully rooted out Al-Qaeda from Afghanistan. Fewer than 100 Al-Qaeda operatives are operating in Afghanistan according to Retired General James L. Jones’ assessment of the situation. “I don’t foresee the return of the Taliban,” he said in an October 4 Associated Press report. Jones, who is President Obama’s National Security Advisor, continued: “Afghanistan is not in imminent danger of falling. The al Qaeda presence is very diminished. The maximum estimate is less than 100 operating in the country, no bases, no ability to launch attacks on either us or our allies.”

Mr. President, we all recognize that we will still have to fight Al-Qaeda around the globe. So let’s bring home the tens of thousands who have fought so valiantly to protect America.

Let’s instead use the best human and electronic surveillance available to allow our special forces to target and kill those who actually threaten us.

I don’t know where to begin. For starters, if he thinks it’s time to go home, why even preface this with the “go big” option? That smacks of CYA, as if he’s afraid to fully commit to his pullout position and is trying to fob off some of the blame for it onto The One because he won’t “fight hard enough” or whatever. If you want out, say so; I have few kind things to say about Ron Paul, but at least when he wants to quit, he doesn’t try to pretend it’s because Obama’s too soft. As for the specifics, where else around the world does he think we need a significant troop presence to fight Al Qaeda? Does the Chaffetz plan call for an invasion of Yemen or Somalia or something? (Bonus irony: While he’s busy demanding that we free up tens of thousands of troops to fight AQ around the globe, he insists that we can handle AQ in Afghanistan and Pakistan with a small number of hunter-killer teams).

As for his dismissal of the threat still posed by AQ in that region, I’ll let lefty Fred Kaplan — who’s also ambivalent about the war, but not prepared to deceive himself about the consequences of withdrawal — handle it:

As with confronting most messes in life, the initial impulse is to flee. But if we simply pulled out, it’s a near-certain bet that the Taliban would march into Kabul, and most other Afghan towns they’d care to, in a matter of weeks. True, the Taliban are not the same as al-Qaida, but there’s little doubt that they would provide sanctuary and alliance (as they did after the Soviets were ousted), and this would strengthen al-Qaida in its struggle against Pakistan, the United States, and others.

One might dispute the significance of this, at least for its direct danger to the United States. Al-Qaida, after all, can plan attacks on U.S. territory from other sanctuaries, even from apartments in Western cities. But it’s naive to claim that leaving Afghanistan would have no broader effect.

Another problem with withdrawing is that it would signal, correctly or not, a huge victory for anti-American forces generally. If we left Afghanistan to the Taliban (and, by extension, al-Qaida), especially after such a prolonged commitment (at least rhetorically), what other embattled people would trust the United States (or the other putative allies in this war) to come in and protect them from insurgents? None, and they could hardly be blamed.

Beyond all that, after reading Chaffetz and listening to Thompson and Beck, I’m still not sure what it would mean to “go big” or “fight to win.” Those phrases are tossed around a lot as catch-all reasons to be skeptical of Obama, but rarely are they precisely defined. Assume he surprises us all tomorrow night by giving McChrystal the full complement of 40,000 troops that he requested. Good enough? Kaplan notes that a counterinsurgency strategy in line with the Army field manual would require 400,000 troops. Is that the new conservative position, and if so, are we prepared to support a draft to realize it? Also, how specifically should we relax the rules of engagement? The One, to his credit, continued Bush’s policy of drone attacks on AQ leaders even though the risk of collateral damage is high; he doesn’t seem strikingly more squeamish about civilian casualties than Dubya was, and yet conservative support for the war in Afghanistan was rock solid until this year. And yet the ROEs come up a lot in righty critiques of the war, even though none of the chief strategic challenges of Afghanistan — the government is weak and corrupt, the Taliban is hard to find and pin down, and we lack enough boots on the ground for a robust clear-and-hold counterinsurgency strategy — would seem to change dramatically by relaxing them. But then, my military ignorance got me in trouble last week so I may well be stepping in it again. How am I wrong here?


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End the occupation.

Spathi on December 1, 2009 at 3:05 AM

I may well be stepping in it again. How am I wrong here?

I think you’d love to tell us. Someday you’ll release your AP Manifesto, and we can get the root of your uneven thinking.

leftnomore on December 1, 2009 at 3:32 AM

Well if Spathi is for retreat, then you know it is a bad idea.

Guys like Spathi are so far right they are nudging up to left. The truth is there is not a dime’s worth of difference between the Paulbot position and the Michael Moore position.

Terrye on December 1, 2009 at 6:16 AM

What is the objective in afghanistan?

TTheoLogan on December 1, 2009 at 1:21 AM

Oh for Chrisake. The objective is the same thing it always was, kill the enemy.

Terrye on December 1, 2009 at 6:23 AM

MB4 on November 30, 2009 at 8:24 PM

Last month, the purpose for our Afghanistan War was questioned widely: what does America intend to accomplish. Obama was pressed to answer, but failed to define his specific objective in Afghanistan while he dithered. And tonight will be bluster, as usual from the fraud who commands our military.

For months, Fred Thompson debated with guests what Obama’s objectives might be regarding Afghanistan. To date, there is no single goal clarified so as our military can achieve it as victory. Even when “Obama had it right in March,” his initial address to our troops was his extended laundry list of inhibiting rules of engagement that prosecute Navy Seals with court marshall for actually capturing key terrorists honorably, including through the scuffles that ensued during proper interrogation.

There is no converting the most backward fundamentalist Muslim mountain tribes into the modern world. Afghanistan is NOT modern and never has been. It’s always has been the most set in its own ways. And any attempt to shift anything there meets persistent resistance and antagonism, and creates enemies. That is McChrystal’s point. No matter what “good” the West does for Afghanistan, tribal toes and power structures get stiffed by every single good intended gesture. And in Afghanistan, no one ever forgives a life taken, regardless of intention or accident or any circumstance surrounding the tribal member’s death.

McChrystal was ordered to design a nation building occupational force. He obeyed his orders.

IF Afghanistan is as corrupt as we understand it to be, so corrupt that the likes of Hillary and Obama call it out and threaten our evacuation, then there’s no “fixing” it. Had McChrystal been ordered to design a destruction of Afghanistan, would he take Patton’s inspiration, or even the finality of MacArthur’s solution to the Korean Conflict?

No one has admitted in their Afghan arguments that America is bankrupt, with the devaluation of the dollar falling without any means to stop falling. So is this Afghan in perpetuity military-nation-building involvement going to involve America buying our supplies from China in perpetuity?

Regarding the draft, THAT IS OBAMA’S PLAN. No secret since he’s consistently spoken for a draft.

maverick muse on December 1, 2009 at 6:29 AM

kill the enemy.

Terrye on December 1, 2009 at 6:23 AM

Then complete that work, annihilate every Afghan.

Tough, too tough for Americans to swallow?

maverick muse on December 1, 2009 at 6:32 AM

The truth is there is not a dime’s worth of difference between the Paulbot position and the Michael Moore position.

Terrye on December 1, 2009 at 6:16 AM

In general effect, you could argue your point where their positions intersect.

Isolationism should not be completely disregarded, as it IS the opposite pendulum point that retracts over-extended military interventions from swinging off base. Isolationism demands a full accounting for the exact goals before jumping the gun into a never-ending war that is meant to change the unchangeable into what we require as acceptable. So long as PC rules the US government roost, there’s our own sabotage to correct first.

Btw, did you read the hotair headline link to Politico regarding the success Ron Paul’s 30 year initiative to investigate the Federal Reserve is enjoying? Bipartisanship.

I think that Ron Paul is not perfect, and I also think that his potus campaign brought out some fanaticism from the ranks, as all potus campaigns tend to bring out in political battle. But because of his adroit isolationism, Ron Paul got the shaft here at HotAir.

Those who can’t see the difference between Ron Paul and Michael Moore are troubled.

maverick muse on December 1, 2009 at 6:50 AM

It doesn’t take supernatural vision to see the headlines five -ten years down the pike, where the left (there will always be a left) will be touting the fact that the GOP cut and run in the War on Terror (yes, those words will be ressurrected by the ever morally flexible left)

Perhaps after a major Jihadist attack on a major city would be a good time to play the blame game, deflecting their complicity with our enemies.

We should demand he supports the war with the same audacity and vigor that he supports killing just-born children.

Don L on December 1, 2009 at 6:56 AM

From Walter Russell Mead’s article in The National Interest No. 58, 1999/2000 (archived here):

Once wars begin, a significant element of American public opinion supports waging them at the highest possible level of intensity. The devastating tactics of the wars against the Indians, General Sherman’s campaign of 1864-65, and the unprecedented aerial bombardments of World War II were all broadly popular in the United States. During both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, presidents came under intense pressure, not only from military leaders but also from public opinion, to hit the enemy with all available force in all available places. Throughout the Cold War the path of least resistance in American politics was generally the more hawkish stance. Politicians who advocated negotiated compromises with the Soviet enemy were labeled appeasers and paid a heavy political price. The Korean and Vietnam Wars lost public support in part because of political decisions not to risk the consequences of all-out war, not necessarily stopping short of the use of nuclear weapons. The most costly decision George Bush took in the Gulf War was not to send ground forces into Iraq, but to stop short of the occupation of Baghdad and the capture and trial of Saddam Hussein.

You either fight or you don’t, there is no third option. Trying to ‘nuance’ an active war gets soldiers killed to no good end as you are unwilling to deploy enough for victory and not strong enough to say the fight is not worth fighting. Vacillation kills soldiers, kills morale and emboldens the enemy to kill more of us. If you don’t have the heart to fight, then negotiate an end to the conflict.

After we sold out S. Vietnam, the millions of dead there after it was defeated, and in Laos and no small part the Killing Fields in Cambodia was due to America leaving. We couldn’t pay the cost of the war at home, so those we had promised to defend paid for it with their Nation and often their lives. We leave a madman in North Korea who openly abrogates the decades long cease fire, and he has declared it not on his menu any longer. South Korea can and should defend itself after these long decades, but for spitting in our eye and on that agreement and not coming to terms for a peace treaty, what does the Magical Kingdom of Mr. Kim face from us? Ex-presidents glad handing him for the return of our citizens who were there with no real good reason as to why they were there, save that the ex-vice president employed them…

Go Big means you are serious, you will ramp up for real war and you will damned well fight.

Go Home means the fight is not worth the candle and we have foes we should come to terms with because they are honorable.

Going in-between means we can’t face up to the fact we have dishonorable foes, that we have weak and often treacherous allies, that we cannot call these for what they are, that we are unwilling to commit to victory and that we have no clear understanding of what we must do to win.

Obama on the campaign trail said he was willing to go into Pakistan to get al Qaeda.

I support that and is one of the few positions of his I have ever supported.

That would, most likely, bring down Pakistan, and we have to be prepared for that and ready to intercede or destroy their nuclear capacity in one, hard shot. To back his brave words on the campaign trail, President Obama would have to prepare us for real war, with real commitment, with real troop strength and the ability to accept that he can take the negative consequences of getting our self-avowed enemies wherever they may be.

He can’t do that, there is no courage there.

He can’t find an honorable enemy to negotiate with as they have no Nation and are dishonorable to their core. They can’t make a peace treaty. Their avowed reason to attack us is to see us fall completely. There is no ‘nuance’ there.

This President has just stepped in the ‘nuance’ and it is now sticking to his shoes, leaving tracks wherever he goes.

There is no dimmer switch in war.

Be serious and fight when you must fight.

Do not fight when you do not have to.

There is a large, very large, percentage of America that understands this. It isn’t about politics, but how we view ourselves as a people. Politics is just the least and lowest manifestation of that.

ajacksonian on December 1, 2009 at 8:08 AM

This is from a larger article on lonsberry.com

Here’s my prejudice: We already won in Afghanistan, it’s time to come home. We chased the Taliban out of power, we got Al Qaida out of the country – we did what we set out to do.

So we should come home.

Particularly with the insane rules of engagement, which tie our troops’ hands behind their backs, we should come home. This isn’t our swamp, we shouldn’t be wading in it. We have no objective, we have no allies, we have no purpose, we have no business. We should pull up stakes and leave that Third World hellhole to its own devices.

I’m a conservative Republican, a veteran and an NRA life member, and I’m as gung-ho as the next guy. When the rubble needs to bounce, we should make the rubble bounce.

But we don’t need any more of these bull-crap wars where we send our troops out there to be nothing more than targets for Muslim bombers. If we’re not going to fight – and believe me, we’re not going to fight – then we shouldn’t be there.

Bambi on December 1, 2009 at 8:30 AM

Fight to win this thing, let your generals make the troop assetments and keep the politics of re-eletion out of this. If you can not do that then pack it up and bring our troops home.

As far as the draft, I have a 14 year old son who is at the same age I was when the fear of being drafted for ‘Nam was vary real. I pray that the draft is not reinstated. But if it is and if he has to go, I will go with him. One way or another I will protect my child (even if he is an adult).

mechkiller_k on December 1, 2009 at 9:05 AM

But then, my military ignorance got me in trouble last week so I may well be stepping in it again. How am I wrong here?

For starters, the filthy lying coward is not committed to operations in Afghanistan. Face it, we saw four months of dithering and worry about poll numbers, not the crafting of a substantively new strategy. You can’t “go big” if you are more worried that you will upset the left wing of your own party. The troops do not deserve to be put at risk because the coward-in-chief is more concerned about support from Nancy Pelosi than he is about how many soldiers are killed.

Simply put, we cannot win in Afghanistan with the current strategy and the current cowardly administration. It’s time to bring the troops home because Obama lacks the committment, will, and vision to do the job right.

highhopes on December 1, 2009 at 12:39 PM

I would like to see tea partiers polled on this. If you are opposed to increased federal spending how do you justify this escalation?. I was a strong supported of the war in 2001 when we first invaded afghanistan, but my belief that we will fundamentally change afghanistan’s culture away from a tribal, fudamentalist, and ignorant society is kidding themselves. We have been there for 8 years, and we are no closer to victory now than we were in 2002. Im all for killing bad guys, bombing AQ and the like, but protecting the afghan populace while we try to build their nation, F**K THAT! They can build their own damn nation and we can strike anywhere in afghanistan or pakistan, we only need to control a single lilly pad in the region. When have we won in afghanistan? Their will always be a pissed off pashtun tribesman somewhere that is willing to work with AQ.

snoopicus on December 1, 2009 at 12:53 PM

I would like to see tea partiers polled on this. If you are opposed to increased federal spending how do you justify this escalation?. I was a strong supported of the war in 2001 when we first invaded afghanistan, but peoples belief that we will change afghanistan’s culture away from a tribal, fudamentalist, and ignorant society is kidding themselves. We have been there for 8 years, and we are no closer to victory now than we were in 2002. Im all for killing bad guys, bombing AQ and the like, but protecting the afghan populace while we try to build their nation, F**K THAT! They can build their own damn nation and we can strike anywhere in afghanistan or pakistan, we only need to control a single lilly pad in the region. When have we won in afghanistan? Their will always be a pissed off pashtun tribesman somewhere that is willing to work with AQ.

corrections made

snoopicus on December 1, 2009 at 12:55 PM

My interest in the tea parties is to see if they are more libertarian or more conservative. The reason I am so curious about this is that the founders were pretty suspicious of large standing armies, and were not particularly impressed with entangling alliances, and obviously the tea party crowds admire the founders. This job sort of requires both, and while I realize that our modern army is largely a biproduct of the WW2/Cold War build up, it would be interesting to see how tea party folks split on this

snoopicus on December 1, 2009 at 1:00 PM

But because of his adroit isolationism, Ron Paul got the shaft here at HotAir.

maverick muse on December 1, 2009 at 6:50 AM

and his idiotic notion that we should return to the gold standard, his love of pork, advocating piracy, naive foreign policy, an unwillingness to sign trade agreements based on a naive set of beliefs, the general ignorance and crappy attitude of his worshipers. Did I forget anything?

jdkchem on December 1, 2009 at 1:10 PM

End the occupation.

Spathi on December 1, 2009 at 3:05 AM

I tend to agree…this president is so weak and ill prepared to lead a nation valiantly, it may be best to bring home the troops.
You too have obviously seen how naive and ineffective Obama is domestically, I can’t imagine him being any where near effective for this war to succeed.
Best to withdraw, re-load, and wait for a real leader, a real president to step in and do what is needed.
Obama is just too weak to lead a military campaign…good call on your part…your are absolutely correct in assessing the situation, Obama does not have the skill.

right2bright on December 1, 2009 at 1:21 PM

http://www.veteranoutrage.com

I totally agree with your position here.

I dont like obama
I hate democrats even more..

But I wont go easy on a republican who doesnt have the BALLS
to stand up and say im quitting..

Look i quit at a few things in my life.
Some made sense (like my business) it was DEAD..
Time to quit..

But i didnt blame my ex wife for this …
It was my idea
My work
My finances
My FAILURE.. ( I OWNED IT )..

So this smacks of a so called conservative pussy
trying to blame obama and taking a centrist positon..

This makes me even more Furious..

Our soldiers dont have that luxury..
They have to follow their orders..

So Why dont all of these so called congressmen
actually have the balls to make a decision?

Why is it that we always end up electing..
Men and women who are about as stable mentally as
iddi amin..

Sheesh..

veteranoutrage on December 1, 2009 at 1:52 PM

Why is it that we always end up electing..
Men and women who are about as stable mentally as
iddi amin..

Sheesh..

veteranoutrage on December 1, 2009 at 1:52 PM

Say what you will but Idi Amin was unafraid when it came to decision-making. Not true most of the rougues in Congress.

highhopes on December 1, 2009 at 2:28 PM

I tend to agree…this president is so weak and ill prepared to lead a nation valiantly, it may be best to bring home the troops

It’s great to see the surrender monkeys coming out of the woodwork. Right, the situation in Afghanistan is bleak because of Obama. No one with a serious understanding of what happened over the course of the last 8 years would agree with that assessment for a second. Both McCain and Obama were briefed on Afghanistan during the presidential campaign, and even McCain left the meeting ‘shocked’ that the situation had deteriorated so severely.

Let the surge strategy happen and give it time to work. It’s not the right time to surrender to al-Qaeda.

bayam on December 1, 2009 at 2:43 PM

As a three time veteran and currently serving here in Iraq, I seriously wonder if, we as a superpower, are too weak and so PC that we do not even have the inner strength to use those deterrent weapons anymore. I have served along side NSW guys here and we will always follow orders, but we know to a man that you wonder who has your “six” when you are going out on missions and the ROE’s change constantly. I am all for arranging meetings of infidels and their virgins but if we are “fighting” with one arm tied behind our back and weapons unloaded…we need to rethink our mission or look to solve this problem through the ballot box soon.

g2825m on December 1, 2009 at 4:24 PM

ajacksonian on December 1, 2009 at 8:08 AM

Can you hear the applause?

flyoverboy on December 1, 2009 at 5:56 PM

So he’s for pullin’ out early, eh? No more girlfriends for this guy.

gordo on December 1, 2009 at 9:42 PM

Chaffetz is being incoherent.

el gordo on December 2, 2009 at 6:00 AM

The photo of Chaffetz on Hot Air’s front page is nauseating.

Kralizec on December 2, 2009 at 8:51 AM

Geeze. Reading this thread makes me feel like I’ve been transported back to 1968 when I was drafted into the Army to go fight the communist hoards.

The Viet Cong knew we were weak then and would cut and run if they could just hold out long enough. And they were right – - – which was bad news for the 2 million plus that were slaughtered in that general area after we ran away.

40 years ago the Viet Cong needed their last-ditch effort of the Tet Offensive to finally break the will of our collective backs.

Today, the Taliban don’t have to do a damned thing but sit back, smoke opium, and cane their disobedient women slaves for a year thanks to Obama’s pre-published date for V.I.A. Day. If I were a Taliban war lord high on drugs and surrounded by subservient women who devotedly met my every need and desire …

(You know, come to think of it, that really doesn’t sound like such a bad life, does it? Sorta makes me feel like I’m a homogenized version of a man or something … you know what I mean?)

Anyway, if I were a Taliban, in appreciation for letting me know in advance when the war will end, I’d send Obama a lovely bouquets of poppies with a nice, thoughtful thank you card.

Think about this “setting-a-date-to-end-the-war thing” – here’s an analogy: you’re cops and you’ve got the crooks surrounded when your commander shouts through his bull horn that they better give up now because you’re all going home for dinner – “Surrender now or we’re all leaving soon because …. because … our wives will be mad if we’re not home for dinner!! “.

Now, if you were the crooks, wouldn’t that just put the fear of God into you? Wouldn’t you be shaking in your Taliban-made goat boots and shout out the window, “Oh no! Not that, commander! We give up!”

Or would you say, “Give me another beer. Heck, I’m gonna go take a nap. Tell me when this idiot clown leaves so we can go rob more banks.”

Personally, I think I’d go for more beer and banks.

Thanks to Obama – our own idiot clown – I think that’s what the Taliban is going for too.

Rod on December 2, 2009 at 11:35 PM

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