“Deep thought: If McCain had won, and enacted the same Afghan policy we see with Obama, you’d be all over him.”
No doubt. (Granted, there’s a good chance if McCain had won, the country would be too engrossed in the awesome drama of a Levi/Bristol D.C. break-up to care much about any developments in Central Asia.)
But just to flesh out this idea a little more. Public debate over what we should do in Afghanistan has been near zero. The debate that has taken place has had very narrow parameters: should we send 10,000 troops, or 50,000? Give $10 billion to Pakistan or less? The conventional wisdom in “serious” foreign policy circles in DC and New York is that we need to have a substantial and long term troop presence there, and a massive financial commitment for at least a decade plus. There’s been almost no talk of withdrawal, or say, a rethinking our assumptions that got us there, or much wondering if there are better ways to fight terrorism.
The main stream anti-war left has been quiet on Afghanistan, as far as I can tell. Moveon.org hasn’t taken up the anti-escalation call. Left-leaning foreign policy think tanks and experts, so critical of the Bush Administration in both Afghanistan and Iraq, have either endorsed Obama’s plan, or want an even greater commitment to Afghanistan and Pakistan.
So what if McCain had come out of the gate, saying he wanted to send 30,000 more soldiers to Afghanistan?
A) If McCain had won, that anti-war anger that helped Obama get elected wouldn’t have been satisfied.
B) Part of that anger would have transferred over from Iraq to Afghanistan. (30,000 more troops! McCain is a war mongerer-ing! He’s trying to re-fight Vietnam! It’s madness! Over 75 Coalition soldiers were killed in the first three months of this year! That’s the deadliest Jan.-March stretch of the eight year war! Eight years!)
C) In fact, if McCain won, we’d probably be hearing much more about Iraq, too. There would be a more vigorous discussion about the surge, rather than the case now, where the mainstream left has been lulled into a surge-induced complacency. The left’s righteous indignation has dropped many decibel levels thanks to the Obama win, even though we’re still in Iraq, going to be in Iraq until at least 2015, and a significant numbers of Iraqis and Americans are still being killed. Oh yeah, and we’re also digging a deeper hole in Afghanistan.
D) Guess who said the following on March 27. Senator McCain or President Obama?
“Al Qaeda and its allies — the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks — are in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Multiple intelligence estimates have warned that al Qaeda is actively planning attacks on the United States homeland from its safe haven in Pakistan. And if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban — or allows al Qaeda to go unchallenged — that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can.”
E) If you answered Obama, you’re correct.
F) But if McCain had uttered those words, he would have been called out by Demoracts and progressives types for scare mongering, fear mongering, being more of the same ‘ole George W. Bush.
And so it goes…