Democracy Arsenal

« Some Thoughts After Hearing Huntsman and Romney | Main | Interagency Cooperation on Assassination Plot Investigation »

October 11, 2011

Where’s Romney? Afghanistan Edition
Posted by Jacob Stokes

Afghanistan for RomneyAs Mitt Romney continues his journey to the front of the GOP field, I thought I’d start a little feature here at DA that looks at Romney’s position on different issues in depth. Today’s pick: Afghanistan. Dan Balz has a great first look at this issue over at the Post.

Romney’s central criticism of the president’s policy on Afghanistan is his failure to “listen to the generals” before making the call last July to withdraw the 33,000 “surge” troops by the end of 2012. (Let’s leave aside for a moment the fact that such criticism is misguided.) Romney suggested in his speech last week that, “I will order a full review of our transition to the Afghan military to secure that nation’s sovereignty from the tyranny of the Taliban. I will speak with our generals in the field and receive the best recommendation of our military commanders. The force level necessary to secure our gains and complete our mission successfully is a decision I will make free from politics.”

That quote suggests that Romney would ask the generals what they need and simply order what the generals say is needed. Such a criticism would, in his mind, be “free from politics.”

But as Balz points out, Romney has also suggested that troop commitments are ultimately the president’s decision. He said, “I would listen to the generals and receive the input of those who are the commanders in the field, and then I would make my own decision.” In other words, he’d do what Obama did.

In addition to the flip-flop here, Romney also has a couple other issues to contend with. Most of the news coverage assumes that Romney’s review would come to the conclusion that some level of troop drawdown was warranted. But if Romney ordered a review, it’s not out of the question that he’d get a request for increased resources to complete the mission. No military commander has ever asked for fewer resources to complete a mission. So the question should really be: Would Romney consider more troops to help achieve the mission in Afghanistan?

After all, the resources needed to complete the mission depend on how it’s defined. Romney, in his speech last week, seemed to define the mission as preventing the Taliban from gaining any political power in Afghanistan, a much more expansive mission than has been set out by the Obama administration, which has made a point of delineating between the Taliban and al Qaeda. He said, “After the United States and NATO have withdrawn all forces, will the Taliban find a path back to power? After over a decade of American sacrifice in treasure and blood, will the country sink back into the medieval terrors of fundamentalist rule and the mullahs again open a sanctuary for terrorists?”

In addition to the question of troop commitments, Romney has failed to address the much larger issue on Afghanistan: How to create a functioning government. Especially in light of the news today that the Afghan government has been engaged in systemic abuse and torture of prisoners, figuring out how to create a reliable partner government is arguably just as, if not more, important than achieving military victory over the Taliban.

At bottom, Romney wants all the political upside of this issue – Listen to the generals! Defeat our enemies! – without any of the political downside – more troops, more money, grim chances of success as he defines it. The voters deserve a chance to weigh the pros and cons of Romney’s position against President Obama’s. Will they get that chance?

Photo: IAVA Flickr

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451c04d69e20153923a520f970b

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Where’s Romney? Afghanistan Edition:

Comments

In this excerpt, although watch out of ten is one of many watches only the tip of the iceberg, is different ........ Make sure you buy your watch from a well-known dealer to ensure that you are not being ripped off. It helps if they have an address or a store that you can visit, should you have any issues with your purchase. You can often easily check their address using Google Maps street view to see if their shop is where they say it is.

this excerpt, although watch out of ten is one of many watches only the tip of the iceberg, is different ........ Make sure you buy your watch from a well-known dealer to ensure that you are not being ripped off. It helps if they have an address or a store that you can visit, should you have any issues with your purchase. You can often easily check their address using Google Maps street view to see if their

This is a good,common sense article.Very helpful to one who is just finding the resouces about this part.It will certainly help educate me.

The fossils date from the early Devonian period, by which time simple plants had long colonised the land and begun diversifying.

I like your article, if has the time can see my articles, thank you!

This is a good,common sense article.Very helpful to one who is just finding the resouces about this part.It will certainly help educate me.


so lucky to read your post, i will read your post time to time,thank you!

provide any assistance to you. " Non-Erse more mature, she smiled: "We will definitely come, then I go first, you have to be careful." - Has

Hello!I am glad to here, Good Site! Thanks you!

Non-Erse more mature, she smiled: "We will definitely come

The comments to this entry are closed.

Emeritus Contributors
Subscribe
Sign-up to receive a weekly digest of the latest posts from Democracy Arsenal.
Email: 
Powered by TypePad

Disclaimer

The opinions voiced on Democracy Arsenal are those of the individual authors and do not represent the views of any other organization or institution with which any author may be affiliated.
Read Terms of Use