Tag Archives: George Will

Are Republicans Serious About a Purity Test?

It sure looks like they are. Conservative leaders in the GOP have put together a 10 point checklist they say candidates for office should adhere to. If they don’t follow the leader on at least 7, they’d be denied party funds and endorsements. WHOA!!!

Among the 10 so called “principles” is opposition to abortion, along with opposition to President Obama’s “socialist agenda”. Those aren’t my words, they’re the words of people who obviously long for the days of a senator named McCarthy.

This foolishness is even going to be presented to the Republican National Committee early next year. The inmates are truly running the asylum. What would they do about a Michael Bloomberg, who got the GOP line here in New York for the last mayoral election, but wouldn’t come close to hitting seven of the ten principles.

Suffice to say Mayor Mike wouldn’t have needed Republican money. In fact, they probably need his more. And what about the Republican’s resident homeboy, Michael Steele? Is he really ready to preside over a bunch of conservatives whose political strategy might well bury his party? Does any thinking Republican really want a litmus test?

It seems to me that at least in Congress, even the most moderate of Republicans toe the line, whatever the line is besides “no” on most legislation. Is this the next step for the tea party-ers, birthers, and Glenn Beck adherents? If so, Democrats ought to be licking their chops. That is, if they have the guts to articulate a different vision than a lockstep conservatism that I bet makes George Will cringe.

All this from a group of 10 members of the RNC who believe the Republicans have strayed too far from their conservative roots. It’s amazing they’ve gotten this far with their twisted initiative. But they have, and now it’s the party’s problem to fix, or maybe embrace.

I’m sure most of these folks haven’t read up on actual Republican history. It seems their memories only go back as far as Ronald Reagan. That people like Jacob Javits and Nelson Rockefeller once proudly called themselves Republican must have slipped their notice.

No matter. If this is the true vision of the Republican Party, Michael Steele ought to resign tomorrow and give the reins of the RNC to co-chairs Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin. The sad part is that some of the people who follow these folks are under the mistaken illusion these GOP celebrities actually care about them. Many have a right to be angry, but they’re mad at the wrong people.

Obama’s socialist agenda isn’t the issue. Seven figure bonuses for incompetent bankers who won’t lend credit worthy small businesses a dime are the problem. Much of what is presented to them is smoke and mirrors. And now, a purity test.

But you tell me. Are the Republicans far gone enough to actually implement these 10 “principles”?

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US Troops. Obama Rethinking Afghanistan Strategy?

A couple of weeks ago, we wrote an item about the question of whether more troops would be sent to Afghanistan. At the time, it looked like the answer would be yes. At least, that’s the signal the Obama Administration was sending at the time. That was then. Now, it’s starting to look like the President is taking, how best to say it, a more nuanced approach.

The request from the top US and NATO commander in the country, Gen. Stanley McChrystal is clear, according to the Washington Post. The paper reports on a 66 page secret document they’ve seen, and in it McChrystal says, “Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near-term (next 12 months) — while Afghan security capacity matures — risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible.” That’s pretty clear, and pretty emphatic.

The White House now seems to be singing a slightly different tune. Senior administration officials tell the Post that McChrystal’s assessment is one of a number they’re taking into account. Could one be George Will’s recent “Get out now” column in the same Washington Post? No matter. During his Sunday talk show blitz, President Obama indicated McChrystal may not get what he wants.

“Until I’m satisfied that we’ve got the right strategy, I’m not going to be sending some young man or woman over there — beyond what we already have,” Obama said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” If an expanded counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan contributes to the goal of defeating al-Qaeda, then we’ll move forward,” he said. “But, if it doesn’t, then I’m not interested in just being in Afghanistan for the sake of being in Afghanistan or saving face or . . sending a message that America is here for the duration.”

If I were Stanley McChrystal, I might not be holding my breath waiting for those fresh troops. He probably isn’t seeing the opinion polls that say most Americans are tired of Afghanistan. The recent elections remain a subject of bitter dispute, the Karzai government doesn’t control much of the country, and a real breakthrough in the fight against the Taliban and a return of Al-Qaeda seems far off.

Will the American people support a US led nation building effort in Afghanistan? Can McChrystal’s plans for a counterinsurgency campaign be put in place fast enough to beat back a resurgent Taliban? What seemed so sure back in March when the President endorsed “executing and resourcing an integrated civilian-military counterinsurgency strategy,” no longer seems so sure.

One thing is sure. President Obama doesn’t want to repeat the mistakes the Bush Administration made in Iraq. So what should he do? You tell me.

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More Troops to Afghanistan?

As a person who detests war in all its forms, my short answer would be, “I hope not!” Yet it looks like President Barack Obama is toying with the idea. There’s a new report from the top US commander in Afghanistan, one the New York Times describes as detailing the deteriorating situation there.

The Times says the classified report, by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, didn’t ask for additional US troops, but that request could be coming soon.

Afghansitan.troops

If and when it does, it will come at a time when Americans are increasingly asking the same questions that were being asked about Iraq just a few years ago. What exactly is the mission? What constitutes victory? How much longer will US troops fight and die for a regime that many here see as hopelessly corrupt?

President Barack Obama has a dilemma on his hands. For many of his supporters, sending more troops to Afghanistan, regardless of rationale, isn’t “Change we can believe in”.  The recent Afghan elections are alleged to have been rife with fraud, fraud on behalf of the guy the US is backing, Hamid Karzai. Reports say his government only controls one third of the country, about the same as it did four years ago.

The Taliban, America’s clear enemy in the region, seems to materialize and vanish at will, making President Obama’s possible call for more troops look like an exercise in futility. There are rising references to Afghanistan being “Obama’s Vietnam”, a quagmire that will only deepen no matter how many more troops are sent.

And now conservative columnist George Will, of all people, has an op-ed in Tuesday’s Washington Post calling for the US to get out, and soon. His rationale is telling. From his WAPO piece:

“U.S. forces are being increased by 21,000, to 68,000, bringing the coalition total to 110,000. About 9,000 are from Britain, where support for the war is waning. Counterinsurgency theory concerning the time and the ratio of forces required to protect the population indicates that, nationwide, Afghanistan would need hundreds of thousands of coalition troops, perhaps for a decade or more. That is inconceivable.

So, instead, forces should be substantially reduced to serve a comprehensively revised policy: America should do only what can be done from offshore, using intelligence, drones, cruise missiles, airstrikes and small, potent Special Forces units, concentrating on the porous 1,500-mile border with Pakistan, a nation that actually matters”.

To which we can only say, whoa! Certainly a substantial reduction in US troops poses some potential political problems for the president. Yet the facts are clear. More US military personnel died in August in Afghanistan than at any time since the beginning of the war. The war is now eight years old, twice as long as World War II.

So the question is this. Should President Obama commit more US troops to Afghanistan, or should he start a gradual reduction with an eye toward withdrawal? You tell me.

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