Amid the mini-firestorm over RNC Chairman Michael Steele calling Afghanistan Obama’s war, RealClearWorld’s Greg Scoblete says it’s time for Republicans to soul-search on Afghanistan and be realistic:
The Bush administration’s decision to commit to political institution building in the country has enabled a monumental theft of American taxpayer dollars that is egregious even by Washington’s poor accounting standards. Some $3 billion, according to government estimates, have been spirited out of Afghanistan by the corrupt elite. Meanwhile, al-Qaeda – the very reason we invaded in the first place – consists of 50-100 men (according to CIA Director Leon Panetta).
Whenever the U.S. eventually pulls back from Afghanistan, the country will likely be as we found it – poor and at war with itself. We will leave with an al-Qaeda that is still a sporadic global menace, and still capable of plotting attacks from its Pakistan sanctuary. Even if the current counter-insurgency strategy bears fruit it won’t make Afghanistan a peaceful place, just as “post-Surge” Iraq remains violent. Instead, it will transfer the onus for the fight back to the Afghans themselves – where it should have been all along. Indeed, perhaps the only difference between the American departure in 2011 (or beyond) and 2001 is that America will leave an exhausted power, when it could have left a triumphant one.
The Republican Party would do well to reclaim its realist roots and cast a skeptical eye at counter-insurgency and nation-building operations. But if they wish to hang the Afghan albatross around President Obama’s neck, they must first ask themselves how their own president, who supposedly staffed his administration with seasoned “realists” and vowed during his first presidential campaign not to engage in nation-building, wound up leveraging American and NATO lives, money and prestige on just such an endeavor.
Scoblet lays out his case in some detail — so go to the link to read the entire piece.
This entire controversy is indicative of how 21st century politics operates. It has now gone beyond “cherry picking” to virtual denial of historical realities or even recent events that can easily be Googled within a second or two. Each side will try to use what they can against the other and sweep under the rug their significant contributions to a problem, event or failed policy. It’s akin to the partisan finger pointing after 911 — when in reality BOTH PARTIES and MANY ADMINISTRATIONS failed the American people over the years in decisions (or nondecisions) that at times bordered on negligence.