Tuesday, June 26, 2007

THE OPINIONATOR


June 26, 2007, 2:59 pm
Who Doesn’t Remember Afghanistan?
By Tobin Harshaw
Tags: , , ,


Democrats in Congress are fond of calling the fight in Afghanistan the “forgotten war.” Well, The Hill reports that a few on that side of the aisle would like to forget about it permanently:


A few congressional Democrats go so far as suggesting that the Pentagon should pull out of Afghanistan now, while others say that troop withdrawal will be addressed after the military is out of Iraq. Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii), a senior defense authorizer, wants the U.S. out of Afghanistan immediately, calling operations there ‘futile’ in trying to effect political change in a country with a tangled history.


The folks at StrategyPage (yes, I know I cited them this morning, but, hey, they’re having a good day) feel the timing couldn’t be more wrong. “The Taliban has admitted defeat, in their own unique way,” according to the site. “In recent media interviews, Taliban spokesmen announced a shift in emphasis to suicide bombings. The Taliban also admitted that the Americans had infiltrated their high command, which led to the death or capture of several senior Taliban officials, and the capture of many lower ranking ones as well. There have also been some prominent defections recently, which the Taliban spokesmen did not want to talk about.”


The Hill article is getting a lot of attention, but Steven Taylor at Poliblog thinks this is a bit overblown. “This is a non-story,” he writes. “Really, the attention to this story simply looks like an excuse to slam Democrats for being pro-defeat or somesuch … Quite frankly this is a case of taking one story that uses vague language and a few quotes waaaay too seriously.”


James Joyner at Outside the Beltway, who rarely has a good word for Democrats, nonetheless agrees: “In the entire story, Abercrombie and Rep. Diane Watson (D-Calif.) are the only members cited as favoring withdrawal. It’s a stretch to take Murtha’s words that way and everyone else mentioned in the piece is staunchly in favor of staying in Afghanistan until the job’s done, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and liberal stalwarts Henry Waxman, Russ Feingold, and Barbara Boxer. A few Members are also mentioned as hoping that getting troops out of Iraq could hasten our withdrawal from Afghanistan.”


Ed Morrisey at Captain’s Quarters, however, doesn’t underestimate what he calls the “defeat-and-retreat chorus”:


“The real story is that Democrats do not have the stomach to fight wars to victory,” he warns. “They will eventually start undermining the war in Afghanistan the way they have in Iraq, issuing defeatist analyses to prove that we’re losing, that America cannot defeat its enemies, and that we should admit defeat and retreat to Okinawa, or perhaps even further away this time. This time, the Democrats couldn’t even get past six months in power before their senior leadership started running up the white flag against the ‘real’ terrorists.”


“If more Democrats start calling for a complete withdrawal, prematurely, from Afghanistan, I predict that the Democrats will lose the elections in 08,” says Michael P.F. van der Galiën. “The G.O.P. will — rightfully if the majority of Democrats adopts the position of the Representative from Hawaii — use it to depict Democrats as anti-war, no matter what, as quitters, defeatists, etc. Luckily, I believe that the majority of Democrats — and especially the candidates — will not call for such a withdrawal and are not defeatists at all. As I understand it, most Democratic candidates consider Afghanistan to be the center in the war on terrorism and want to focus on this war.”


So, with the possible exception of Representative Abercrombie, a victory in Afghanistan would be a win for us all? Well, while some feel that George W. Bush has failed to be a “uniter” of all Americans, the Taliban seems to have pulled it off.



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June 26, 2007, 9:33 am
China’s Middle-Class Housing Crisis
By Tobin Harshaw
Tags:


So, what will put an end to China’s Communist revolution? Reactionary elements from abroad? A counterrevolution of the bourgeosie? A religious flowering? The military affairs blog StrategyPage has a new candidate: declining home prices.


Spencer Ackerman at TPM Muckraker is intrigued by a new policy paper from the moderately liberal Center for American Progress that “sees ‘full redeployment’ of U.S. troops from Iraq as possible by September 2008, to be accomplished by not replacing units as they complete their existing tours.” Ackerman feels the plan may be politically feasible because it’s not an outright condemnation of the Bush administration’s strategy:


“Strategic Reset” explicitly endorses the Bush administration’s strategy of putting “more emphasis on provincial and local leadership, rather than working primarily with the national government.” But President Bush doesn’t intend that approach to substitute for the Baghdad political process, as CAP does. Although
there’s widespread recognition that Iraqi security forces are either incompetent or sectarian and the Iraqi political process is mired in a sectarian morass, few proposals exist for circumventing both. It’s fair to say that both of CAP’s major offerings are ahead of the U.S. political consensus.


Adios Gitmo? Some say , others say no.

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