COLUMN: Returning to the real war in Afghanistan will draw GOP criticism

Thursday, December 3, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CST; updated 2:54 p.m. CST, Friday, December 11, 2009

It has been a bad week for the friends of the GOP. There is the major political dig at the former administration both in a Senate committee report and President Obama’s speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. The other, a humanitarian attempt by former governor Mike Huckabee that went horribly bad. I wish to focus on the first.

On Tuesday, President Obama announced his plan for what is now called “The Obama War” in Afghanistan. His 33-minute speech was a lecture on the history of the American war against al-Qaida, “a group of extremists who have distorted and defiled Islam, one of the world's greatest religions, to justify the slaughter of innocents,” and the Taliban, “a ruthless, repressive and radical movement.”  It was an announcement of the future of that war and how it will affect the future leaders of the U.S. military and the American people.

His speech was somber and direct, his language simple but not simplistic. That Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida, which President Bush called “outlaws and killers of innocence” in an Oct. 7, 2001, speech, were indeed responsible for the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and that the Taliban harbored them. That with a near unanimous vote in the House and Senate and with the backing of almost every nation on this planet, the United States sent troops into Afghanistan.

Obama continued, saying that because of the decision to start a second war in Iraq, the resources to accomplish the original mission were diverted and the Afghanistan war took a back seat causing “substantial rifts between America and much of the world.”

This appears to have originated with Mr. Bush’s declaration on Oct. 6, 2001, on the floor of the United Nations, with his “You're either with us or against us in the fight against terror.” Those words alienated many nations and frightened others.

Obama’s lecture on policy will be called an insult by conservative hawks, many of whom still wrongly believe that Iraq and Saddam Hussein had a major hand in the 9/11 attacks. It will be called an insult to the Bush administration for its handling of the war efforts. The speech will be called unpatriotic and insulting to the American people. They will scream and yell, using language meant only to incite emotions and hatred. That is propaganda.

They will then turn to the report by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Democratic majority, chaired by Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., that criticized the decision by the Bush administration to abandon the Afghan war and the “missed a chance to get the al-Qaida leader and top deputies” in Tora Bora.

They will focus on the criticism that “the decision not to deploy American forces to go after bin Laden or block his escape was made by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld,” when “there were enough U.S. troops in or near Afghanistan to execute the classic sweep-and-block maneuver required to attack bin Laden and try to prevent his escape.” All wrongly done in the name of maintaining a “light footprint” in international parlance.

They will and have criticized the president for authorizing only additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, when the former administration sent as few as possible.

They will and have called the president’s exit strategy a mistake, because it is telling the enemy to just wait a few years and the Americans will be gone.

These same ultraconservatives conveniently forget that it was their president who initiated the original exit plan in Iraq. That it took almost seven failed years of war, American political pressure, the failed 2006 midterm elections and the demands of the Iraqi government. Not good sense and strategy.

They will and have called the president’s proposal un-American, unpatriotic and a enemy to the state.

Now these same ultraconservatives are opening their own two-prong war as we enter the 2010 and 2012 election cycles. They will and have attacked anyone whose politics are not in line with theirs, including anyone who declares her or himself a liberal or Democrat, as well as Republicans that are just not conservative enough.

This is self-destructive for the GOP. This is self-destructive for our great nation and for our great state of Missouri. Nine years of war overseas is too much, so why start a civil war at the same time?

David Rosman is an award-winning editor, writer, professional speaker and college instructor in communications, ethics, business and politics. Read his blog at He welcomes your comments at

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