Patterico's Pontifications

7/2/2010

RNC Chairman Steele: Afghanistan Can’t Be Won

Filed under: Politics,War — DRJ @ 2:17 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele will spend the Independence Day weekend doing damage control because of this statement:

“Steele was fending off calls for his resignation from conservative commentators for his comment that the Afghanistan war was not a conflict the United States wanted to engage in. Steele at a Thursday fundraiser questioned why President Barack Obama did not understand that “one thing you don’t do, is engage in a land war in Afghanistan.”

MOREAllahpundit has more of the quote:

“Keep in mind again, federal candidates, this was a war of Obama’s choosing. This was not something that the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in,” he said. “But it was the president who was trying to be cute by half by building a script demonizing Iraq, while saying the battle really should be in Afghanistan. Well, if he is such a student of history, has he not understood that you know that’s the one thing you don’t do, is engage in a land war in Afghanistan?”

Time for a poll:

[Note: I moved the poll beneath the "MORE" prompt because loading is slowing down the website.]


– DRJ

42 Responses to “RNC Chairman Steele: Afghanistan Can’t Be Won”

  1. Could we make Harry Reid head of the GOP? At least he’s competent.

    nk (db4a41)

  2. Chairman Steele,

    Resigning your office is the only option. You are an ineffectual embarrassment.

    Yours,

    Pieter Noswowrthy
    1SG, USA

    Pieter Nosworthy (cd409c)

  3. Is there anybody, by now, who doesn’t think that Steele was picked just because of the color of his skin, and he had no other qualification? It’s a disgrace for the GOP and for him personally.

    nk (db4a41)

  4. Agreed – and his book tour earlier really p-ssed me off to no end. Completely chloroformed his own party and his primary message in order to get some more coin from his inane musings. Buh – byee.

    Dmac (ab1849)

  5. I agree, nk. It’s simply a disgrace.

    And it’s sad that we decided to cater to the people who claim the GOP is inherently racist by making such an obviously racist pick. The right is still getting tarred, in fact, probably worse than if they had ignored racist.

    And we DESERVE IT.

    Steele is the fact of the Republican party. Out last nominee was John Mccain. Until we get this party fixed, which I just don’t see happening, there is no solution to the nation’s long term problems.

    I’m not demanding some purist maximal right wing party. Just some decent leadership.

    Politics stops at the water’s edge and we should support this war effort as much as we can. It’s not the RNC chair’s job to make this call. He should be getting us prepared for November instead of selling his face on TV.

    Obama said the surge was a failure because he didn’t care about anything but power. Steele said Afghanistan is a failure for even less.

    Furthermore, he is essentially calling Gen Petreaus a liar. He is clumsily leaving the door open for blaming Bush and making the GOP look like it doesn’t take responsibility for our decision to invade Afghanistan.

    I think Steele is engaged in a campaign to harm the party that has rejected him. He knows the jig is soon up and wants to write some whiney books and appear on MSNBC or wherever. If he’s actually trying to help his party win elections, then he is dumb.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  6. I do not care if he was misunderstood or misspoke or is sorry or disagrees with himself or what-the-hell-ever.

    His job is to help the RNC, by raising a lot of money, getting our message out in whatever way he can, making us look good, getting Republicans elected.

    He is not doing his job effectively AT ALL.

    Every time he’s in the news, it’s because he said or did something stupid, that the left seizes on and turns into a “Republicans are stupid” meme.

    Since Steele can’t seem to understand that this is what happens in the USA in 2010, he is unqualified.

    He needs to spend more time with his family.

    Less (8da0c8)

  7. I agree the war can’t be won, if winning is defined as bringing that country into the 21st century, getting the tribal factions to focus on country rather than family, installing a democratically elected government that respects human rights and the rule of law.

    If on the other hand, if winning is defined as killing a whole lot of terrorists and keeping them on the run so they don’t have the peace of mind to plan and train for attacks on America, then that is a war that can be won.

    Either way, Steele is a dunce.

    steve sturm (116925)

  8. For some reason they left “Seppuku” off the list.

    Anon Y. Mous (5ac901)

  9. He must have been suffering from a stomach virus or something. There is no other way to explain this, other than sheer idiocy on a scale that even Steele has not demonstrated before this.

    I just have to wonder what GWB might have to say, if someone asks him.

    kishnevi (61880c)

  10. Steele is the face of the Inside-the-Beltway, Cocktail-GOP, and is completely antithetical to the Flyover/TEA Party GOP.
    Time for him to try his hand at elective office again, perhaps in Montgomery Co MD – they’re so screwed up he might even be an improvement.

    AD - RtR/OS! (688ffe)

  11. Howard Dean had some kind of vision and plan and made sure to execute it. It wasn’t perfect, but it was leadership of his party.

    Dean also wasn’t afraid of the internet the way the GOP seems to be sometimes. I get the impression the RNC doesn’t want to lose control of the narrative, but its narrative is always pretty clumsy.

    We need a leader who will devote herself to short and long term gains for the party. We spend a lot of money and should have intelligent planning. Instead, Steele fired a lot of the best people at RNC to fill those slots with his long time supporters who gained better resumes. He simply gutted the party’s staff. That’s a big reason the RNC has made a lot of mistakes with controlling money.

    He seems hellbent on proving what he earlier said about how the GOP isn’t ready to lead yet, and I also think he wants to be able to whine how the GOP is unfairly racist. He knows he will be scorned for performance and he’s trying to gin up an excuse.

    We will probably do alright in November, but we’re not going to realize what we could have. And we don’t deserve to if we’re not a party that is clearly going to set a concrete sustainable budget and insist on not a penny more even if it means the kind of massive Hill battle that would bring.

    I see nothing from Steele that shows he has the steel to save our country. And I bet a lot of Republicans on K street are delighted with that, but most of the voters are getting ticked.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  12. It’s unusual to see a Republican try to blame the Democrats for something Republicans did.

    Democrats do that 24/7.

    Republicans…not so much.

    Maybe Steele is in the wrong party. The Dems already are the Party of Idiots. No need to have two such political parties. Steele should consider switching.

    Dave Surls (04d17b)

  13. From an practical perspective, I think he is wrong.

    From a political one, god what an idiot to hand over this issue to them.

    God what an idiot.

    HeavenSent (a9126d)

  14. Everything is so freaking topsy-turvy that I really don’t think it would be much stretch of the imagination to picture if Steele’s resignation were called for it would no doubt be used as racist spin by the Dems…and then when Steele himself is wooed by the left and becomes their token, the racism accusation will then be a priceless one to throw at the right by Steele himself, claiming he was pushed out of the RNC because of his skin color.

    God, I never used to think like this…

    Dana (1e5ad4)

  15. Doesn’t matter. He needs to go and go fast.

    nk (db4a41)

  16. A few false steps ago, I remember thinking Steele can’t be this dense. He has now proven that he is.

    GeneralMalaise (9cf017)

  17. He really is a great boon to Democrats, isn’t he? How the hell has he managed to hang on this long? Blackmail?

    JEA (14b413)

  18. The Dems will need much more of a shot in the arm than Steele can provide, JEA. They’ll need an absolute miracle in November.

    GeneralMalaise (9cf017)

  19. Loser.

    happyfeet (19c1da)

  20. Facepalm.

    God, he has been such a f–king disaster.

    I am reminded of this scene in “A Bridge too Far,” when Gene Hackman and Sean Connery, as commanders of Polish and British units, respectively, were being briefed on the landing, in the middle of the day, really, really far from their target. It was such a bad idea, Hackman’s character gets up and comes up close to the british airman who is briefing them about it, and looks him up and down. The airman asks him what he is doing, and hackman, “just checking to make sure you are on my side.”

    Steele makes me feel that way.

    Aaron Worthing (A.W.) (f97997)

  21. _________________________________

    Since the guy currently in the Oval Office has pretty much proclaimed that the US will be out of Afghanistan quite shortly, or no later than next year, and since I see a thousand times more ambiguity about that country and its president Hamid Karzai compared with the situation involving Iraq, Saddam Hussein and WMD, I give Steele some leeway on this.

    Newsmax.com, October 2009, David A. Patten:

    While the GOP mainstream remains firmly behind Gen. Stanley McChrystal’s request for more troops, many other conservatives are beginning to question the wisdom of risking American lives on foreign soil when the president himself appears uncertain which tactics to employ.

    Opposition from conservatives has grown steadily since Washington Post columnist George F. Will penned a September column headlined “Time to Get Out of Afghanistan.” Will got conservatives’ attention when wrote that the war in Afghanistan “already is nearly 50 percent longer than the combined U.S. involvements in two world wars, and NATO assistance is reluctant and often risible.”

    He added that never in history has Afghanistan had an effective central government – a requisite lynchpin of Gen. McChrystal’s proposed counter-insurgency policy.

    Conservatives’ reasons for opposing the war, and the alternative approaches they advocate, vary widely. Some opposition appears rooted in traditional isolationism. Some stems from a conviction that Afghanistan, the so-called “graveyard of empires,” may be a lost cause unfit for nation-building. And a growing number of conservatives appear to have lost confidence in the president’s ability to achieve victory there.

    Howard Phillips, founder and chairman of Vienna, Va.-based The Conservative Caucus, tells Newsmax that he just returned from a Constitution Party event in Phoenix, Ariz. “We had nearly 200 people,” Phillips, who says he opposed the war from the beginning, tells Newsmax. “If you took a headcount, I think nearly everyone there would say we should get out of Afghanistan immediately.”

    He adds: “I don’t see any way in which the security of the United States is involved, or strengthened, by the presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Obviously, I applaud the courage and sacrifice of the people we’ve sent over, and the military leaders are doing the best they can in a difficult situation. But it’s a policy question, and as a matter of policy we shouldn’t be there….”

    The irony of an emerging left-right coalition on Afghanistan isn’t lost on conservative-marketing guru and author Richard Viguerie. “Notably quiet in the debate since Obama took office has been the far left,” Viguerie tells Newsmax. “The situation in Afghanistan, however, may be one area where the far left and conservatives may join in agreeing that American interests are best served by withdrawing American troops.”

    Heritage Foundation defense and security policy expert Dr. James Jay Carafano, who has urged the administration to act on the troop request, recently told Newsmax that Obama appears to be “replaying all the worst decision-making of McNamara and Johnson in Vietnam.”

    Other views from conservatives that reflect the diversity of the mixed feelings toward the war:

    - Rep. Pete Hoekstra, R-Mich., and Rep. John Shadegg, R-Ariz., have cooled on the war effort. In a Washington Times op-ed they wrote: “Obama intelligence and military tactics are endangering our troops on the ground. There is no demonstrated presidential commitment to winning… Given these conditions, can we support keeping American military men and women in Afghanistan? The answer is no. If the Obama administration’s priority isn’t providing our troops with the tools to do the job and win, we shouldn’t be there.”

    - Without mentioning the war specifically, Reagan-era U.S. ambassador to Switzerland Faith Whittlesey wrote earlier this month in the Washington Times: “First, we conservatives must redefine our foreign policy in accordance with the prudence and caution of our Founding Fathers. As John Adams said, ‘We do not go abroad in search for monsters to destroy.’ We should reread the history of empire that lost blood and treasure in foreign wars … Most Americans do not wish to be seen by the world as empire builders.”

    - Syndicated columnist Tony Blankley has noted “We may wish to have the war in Afghanistan largely resolved in our favor within a year, but the generals think it will take at least five years.” He adds: “The president has three choices: 1) Cut and run, 2) cut and walk, or 3) stay and fight with enough troops. Either No. 1 or No. 3 may be justifiable based on hardheaded thinking. No. 2 is an evasion of reality and sinfully would sacrifice American troops for no good purpose.”

    - The Examiner columnist Diana West opposes the war as a distraction from the real battle facing America, which she says politicians avoid talking about due to politically correct sensitivities. That battle, she says, is the fight to stop the spread of jihad and shariah law. “In other words, nation building in the Islamic world is a distraction from nation saving in the Western one,” she writes.

    - Richard N. Haass, the president of the Council on Foreign Relations who served in both the George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush administrations, and who has helped both Democrats and Republicans hone their foreign policies, says Afghanistan is a war of choice, not of necessity.

    - Andrew C. McCarthy, an author and NationalReview.com contributor, sees the nation-building proposals in Afghanistan as “the unlikeliest of social engineering experiments.”

    Mark (411533)

  22. If you think nation-building in Iraq/Afghanistan is hard, wait until we lose, and have to start rebuilding dozens or more WTC’s right here in the USofA…and we can’t even get the original WTC rebuilding on track.
    Of course, the suicide bombings will just be a small distraction when you want to go out for pizza.
    The more whining I hear from Inside-the-Beltway, the more I think that perhaps Flight 93 could have served a useful purpose if it had completed its mission if its target was Capitol Hill – usually a lot of lobbyists around on a Tuesday morning too. Could have cleaned out bunches of deadwood.

    AD - RtR/OS! (688ffe)

  23. Via Allahpundit, I updated the post with a more from Michael Steele’s quote as well as Steele’s explanation.

    DRJ (d43dcd)

  24. Dear Sir:
    Resign. Now. Please.
    Sincerely,
    htom

    htom (412a17)

  25. If you think nation-building in Iraq/Afghanistan is hard, wait until we lose

    Exactly. If you think winning a war with terrorists is hard, try losing a war with them.

    Just imagine all the lives that would have been saved if we had completely won the Iraq war, albeit a difficult task, in 1991.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  26. Read through the link, including the RNC explanation. Still not sure at all what Steele was trying to say. Yes, Obama said it was “the right war”, but where was Steele going with that?

    History review:
    1. We went there first to get rid of Al Queda training camps and the Taliban government enabling them.
    2. Initially went well, effort was handed over to UN and allies who did not pursue the enemy.
    3. History show that if there is anything worse than a land war in Afghanistan, it is giving up on Afghanistan and letting it become a failed state.
    4. US must win it, not let it turn into a failed state again.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  27. and have to start rebuilding dozens or more WTC’s right here in the USofA

    I’m less concerned about the way that Western civilization in general, the US in particular, is approaching the issue of Islamofascism overseas than the way it’s dealing with the phenomenon within its own borders. I think this commentator is spot on:

    The Examiner columnist Diana West opposes the war as a distraction from the real battle facing America, which she says politicians avoid talking about due to politically correct sensitivities. That battle, she says, is the fight to stop the spread of jihad and shariah law. “In other words, nation building in the Islamic world is a distraction from nation saving in the Western one,” she writes.

    more from Michael Steele’s quote as well as Steele’s explanation

    Even more so because of the specifics of his assessment, I have absolutely no problem with his comments. Because of both the enormous cost and length of time of the US military in Afghanistan, I’d say his POV, if it’s not already greatly pervasive, is going to be very much the rule to the exception as time goes by.

    Mark (411533)

  28. Mark, if Steele wants to say that this effort is no longer worth the cost, he could say that without pretending this is some kind of partisan war of the democrats.

    And you really have to dig too far to understand what the hell he’s trying to say.

    This man is supposed to be our top political operative. This is something that would embarrass a phone bank worker.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  29. Steele has been spending too much time with Cindy Sheehan.

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (fb9e90)

  30. I feel a lot of sympathy for Sheehan.

    I realize she selfishly co-opted her son’s life’s work for the opposite POV, but she did have skin in that game, and she was abused by partisans until her personal life was nothing but this pacifism. Now she’s been dropped like a bad habit. She is suffering from a mental problem that was exploited for mere politics.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  31. And you really have to dig too far to understand what the hell he’s trying to say.

    It’s not hard for me to notice — as Steele apparently does — the peculiar contradiction of leftists like Obama being so dismissive about or even hostile towards the US military challenging Hussein and Iraq, while buying into some few-found religion when it comes to Afghanistan. While the left may claim otherwise, the case against Hussein/Iraq was not loaded down with vagueness and ambiguities, whereas Afghanistan is a gray area that’s a mile wide, a mile long.

    Of course, no sane person wants to see the fanatical Taliban retake Afghan society, but then we’re already facing the dilemma of a no-less fanatical regime running Iran. IOW, it’s become like a game of whack-a-mole.

    In the meantime, that game is much tougher for the US to deal with because we have an incompetent in the White House, a citizenry far too kum-bah-wah liberal for it’s own good, and a southern border that is not much less porous than sand. So worrying about Afghanistan is not too different from a person with severe acne worrying about a zit on his face.

    Mark (411533)

  32. So worrying about Afghanistan is not too different from a person with severe acne worrying about a zit on his face.

    Like this guy?

    Brother Bradley J. Fikes, C.O.R. (fb9e90)

  33. “It’s not hard for me to notice — as Steele apparently does — the peculiar contradiction of leftists like Obama being so dismissive about or even hostile towards the US military challenging Hussein and Iraq, while buying into some few-found religion when it comes to Afghanistan.”

    It’s still not just Obama’s war. It just isn’t. That’s basically a lie. Sure, Obama’s big case was constantly that we were fighting Iraq to the detriment of the ‘good war’ in Afghanistan. But this is a war the GOP will pay part of the political price for too, and Steele’s clumsiness reeks of passing on accountability. Fair or not.

    How relevant is ‘winning’ in Afghanistan? It’s hard to say, but Pakistan has nukes, so I say it’s extremely important.

    Let’s ignore Steele and let Petraeus have the time and faith he has earned. Politics should stop at the waters edge, and Steele’s employment should stop on Monday.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  34. Steele’s employment should stop on Monday.

    Dustin, I’m disappointed in you. You shouldn’t have even thought that. Steele’s employment should stop right this minute, not continue on thru the weekend.

    John Hitchcock (9e8ad9)

  35. John, I stand corrected. My apologies.

    I’m completely tired of having to strive to see what the hell Steele meant, or how this or that isn’t his fault, when he’s again made the RNC look terrible.

    I’m sure he has a lot of plans for Sunday news programs and Saturday golf, but if he can be bothered to check his voicemail this weekend, I hope it has a message that he is out.

    At this point, I think anyone calling it racism will look ridiculous.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  36. Mark – This is less explainable than Joe Barton’s apology to BP for its extralegal shakedown at the hands of Obama and his thugs. No two ways about it.

    daleyrocks (1d0d98)

  37. Sure, Obama’s big case was constantly that we were fighting Iraq to the detriment of the ‘good war’ in Afghanistan

    And we all believe that was simply political opportunistic anti-Bush whining and not any kind of principled position, right?

    Whatever Steele was trying to do using those words of Obama didn’t work for me.

    In a different world where people were motivated to do the right thing more than selfish ambition, there would have remained a united front in both Afghanistan and Iraq. With the strenght of successes in those two countries we would have been at a much stronger place against Iran and Syria, so much so that the Iraq conflict would have been shorter and with less people killed, and perhaps with a better world standing when it was shown that we went to put down tyrants, assisted the people in each country move to a better and less oppressive government system, and leave without plundering resources or other nasty things that empire builders do.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)

  38. MD, call me naive, but I firmly believe in your vision for this better world where we export liberalism (the real kind, not the stupid kind).

    I’m proudly neo-con.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  39. But this is a war the GOP will pay part of the political price for too

    I think military conflicts of the type associated with Afghanistan will hurt the right more than the left, certainly as perceived by many in the squishy middle—and a lot of people are in that category. In general, I can imagine a lot of folks, of the left, right and center, getting exasperated at the cost of a war that eats up a lot of both dollars and lives.

    Moreover, the left can look somewhat practical minded when they gripe about money — instead of being spent right here in the US (“If we can give billions of bucks to the Middle East, then why the hell don’t we have big budgets for projects in my own country?!” — flowing to causes and initiatives outside America.

    I’m proudly neo-con.

    Dustin, if that is a right-leaning version of the left-leaning “War on Poverty,” so popular during the 1960s and 1970s, if not today (certainly among dyed-in-the-wood liberals), then I’ll have to say I’m proudly non-neo-con.

    Mark (411533)

  40. Mark, I respect that, and I know a lot of people are simply not on board with the idea that we need to do something about the world of tyrants. Not just from some notion of social justice or shining city on the hill, but because they have nukes.

    Democracies treat eachother acceptably well. Generally. I want a world where our kids don’t worry about backwards cultures of hate warped minds who want to kill Americans simply because they are American.

    One response to this is that it’s not our place… that we should be isolationist for some moral reason I don’t understand.

    There’s a better response that my idea seems extremely difficult. I was going to say unrealistic, but I think the alternative of hoping for the best is less realistic

    Regardless, I’m just owning my views and their consequences. I want to export classic liberalism to the world.

    Dustin (b54cdc)

  41. I want to export classic liberalism to the world.

    Your sentiment at least is well-grounded. That is in marked contrast to, as one example, a big “leftie,” pro-Obama person I know in my workplace. He has expressed far more disdain for George W Bush than Saddam Hussein. In that regard, I don’t think such liberals of the Western World necessarily represent a small portion of their side of the ideological spectrum.

    What’s hilarious (and actually sickening) is when leftwing folks believe their ideology is rooted in humaneness and compassion. More hilariously of all, is when they believe their political opponents are coming from a place that is just the opposite of that.

    Mark (411533)

  42. What’s hilarious (and actually sickening) is when leftwing folks believe their ideology is rooted in humaneness and compassion. More hilariously of all, is when they believe their political opponents are coming from a place that is just the opposite of that.
    Comment by Mark

    I agree with your difficulty knowing just how to best describe it- “hilarious (and actually sickening)”.

    I think it is really a very simple lesson of history that we haven’t learned so keep repeating:
    1. Tyrants do bad things, and the longer they rule, the worse they become.
    2. The worse they become and the longer they are appeased, the ultimate cost of dealing with them increases.
    3. In 2000 and beyond, tyrants way over there can do a lot of damage way over here. Technology has made the natural protection of two oceans much less effective than before.

    That does not mean that the US has to put troops into ever combat situation in the world, but if we focused on those facts instead of manipulating public opinion with lies and deception for short term political gain I think we would be doing some better decision making and have the resolve to do what we need to do with firmness and dedication to get the job done.

    MD in Philly (3d3f72)


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