In advance of the President’s expected announcement Tuesday afternoon that we will be ending a decade of war, Republicans were upset.
Indeed, prior to President Obama announcing a troop drawdown in Afghanistan to correlate with the end of our combat mission there at the end of this year, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina let it be known that Obama is totally wrong. We should not announce an exit because it “emboldens the enemy” and Obama is “not ending wars, he’s losing them.”
Here are some of Senator Graham’s tweets on the matter:
“Announcing that all US forces will be out after 2016 emboldens the enemy. #Afghanistan”
“President Obama is not ending wars, he’s losing them. #Afghanistan”
“Doing the same thing he did in Iraq and expecting different results is the definition of insanity. #Afghanistan”
“President Obama is repeating some of the same mistakes he made in Iraq. #Afghanistan”
Graham saved this for after the announcement, “The Taliban and al-Qaeda will welcome this decision. The Afghans who fought alongside us will be devastated. #Afghanistan”
Maybe he thinks if we don’t tell them, they won’t know we’re leaving?
It’s hard to know why Graham is alarmed. This has been the plan for quite some time. In January of 2013, Obama announced, “This week, we agreed that this spring, Afghan forces will take the lead for security across the entire country, and our troops will shift to a support role. And by the end of next year, America’s war in Afghanistan will be over.”
I guess no one told Graham that it took a year plus to move equipment out of Iraq. So, yeah, things have to be planned and it’s hard to hide. It’s not like going on a weekend jaunt, catching the Jitney for some r & r.
Graham isn’t that naive; Rather, Graham is trying hard to keep us in Afghanistan forever.
Senior Administration Officials explained in a conference call early Tuesday afternoon that the Obama administration believes an announcement of our drawdown is necessary for planning purposes, for the allied forces and Afghan government. They argue that knowing what’s going to happen and being able to plan for additional responsibilities has provided security. This seems logical. Senator Graham can’t think that irresponsibly just taking off one day is better than a plan.
You probably remember Graham from the many times he went on TV to mislead the American people into believing the weapons of mass destruction lie that led to the Iraq invasion.
Buzzfeed reminded everyone, “In the 2003 lead-up to the Iraq War, McCain and Graham made appearances on Sunday talks shows such as Meet the Press, Fox News Sunday, and Face the Nation where they made the case that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and would not hesitate to use them… Later, responding to a question from then-host Tim Russert about reports Saddam was destroying certain missiles to comply with the United Nations, Graham emphasized intelligence showing presence of chemical weapons.”
At some point, it gets old having people who were so cravenly dishonest to the public in order to sell the Iraq War opine as if they were an expert on military strategy. It’s especially odious when it occurs at the same time as their party vilifies the Obama administration for what they claim was one misleading television appearance by Ambassador Susan Rice right after the Benghazi attack (it wasn’t misleading; it was a careful script based on the information available at the time).
Graham has served in the Air Force; however, there was a scandal when he was accused of having passed himself off as “an Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm veteran” despite having no legitimate claim to such, per a February 1998 article in The Hill, retrieved by Media Matters. In fact, Graham was in South Carolina, pushing papers for the Air Force.
Graham has gone to Iraq several times, including serving a two week deployment to Iraq as a reservist in 2007. But still. Does going to watch a surgeon operate for two weeks make you a surgeon? A month? How long do you need to watch a teeny, tiny part of one surgery to be able to plan all surgeries?
Republicans used to be all for leaving these decisions to the military. The amount of troops is on par with the 9,000 Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel supported based on military recommendations. If all goes well, we’re drawing down at the end of 2014 to 9,800 troops and by end of 2015 to half of the 9,800, concluding with an embassy presence and continued support in a broader capacity, per Senior Administration Officials.
The troop drawdown is contingent upon the signature of the bilateral security agreement that has already been negotiated with the Afghan government. In the event that neither presidential run-off candidate signs the bilateral security agreement, we would not stay after 2014.
Graham’s notion that we could drawdown and no one would notice, could exit and no one would notice, is absurd. Bases will be taken down or turned over and this will take at least a year. The “enemy” will know about it for that entire year. The truth is that this fear-mongering excuse is just another way to make the case for indefinite policing of Afghanistan with our troops.
Senator Graham, who championed WMD on TV and misled people about his own service, is accusing Obama of “losing” the Republican wars.
It might be more helpful if Senator Graham were to discuss with his party why they never planned or budgeted for the wars, let alone the anticipated load they would add to the VA. After that, he can explain why he misled the public about weapons of mass destruction. Only then can he have a reasonable shot of explaining what makes him a credible voice on war and military strategy.
Also, what exactly does “winning” look like to Republicans? The answer to this question should have been discussed prior to engagement, instead of constantly moving the goal posts for Bush’s vague “war on terror”.
President Obama is trying to end the Afghanistan war in a responsible manner, without leaving a power vacuum in our wake. The people who started these wars with no exit plan might want to zip it for a while.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.