Sunday, July 04, 2010

Afghanistan is Not a Political Football

Michael Steele's comments on Afghanistan unconsionable

Following Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele's recent comments on Afghanistan, a storm is brewing within the Republican Party that could well blow him right out the door.

In a clear and blatant effort to cast Afghanistan as Barack Obama's war, Steele mischaracterized the United States' involvement in the region, treating them as if it was actually Obama's doing.

"This was a war of Obama's choosing," Steele insisted. "This is not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in."

"During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Barack Obama made clear his belief that we should not fight in Iraq, but instead concentrate on Afghanistan," Steele later explained. "Now, as President, he has indeed shifted his focus to this region. That means this is his strategy."

"I supported the decision to increase our troop force and, like the entire United States Senate, I support General Petraeus' confirmation," he continued. "The stakes are too high for us to accept anything but success in Afghanistan."

If Steele is really in such agreement with the war in Afghanistan, one may wonder what, precisely, the problem for him was -- aside from Obama's plans to shift US attentions away from Iraq.

The truth is that, following 9/11, the United States made an effort to get involved in Afghanistan. Later, at the request of the UN, the rest of NATO did as well. It goes without saying that George W Bush, a Republican President, led the US to depose the Taliban.

It was a just act the responsibility for which Steele, as RNC chairman, should not be deflecting onto Barack Obama. If not for the increasing unpopularity of the Afghan engagement, there's little question that Steele wouldn't be.

But the increasingly unpopularity of the war lends itself toward its use as a political football -- it's clear that this was Steele's full intent in his comments. It's utterly unacceptable.

Senator John McCain is among the many Republicans who won't stand for it, and have all but called for Steele's resignation as RNC chairman.

"I think those statements are wildly inaccurate and there is no excuse for them," McCain said. "I think that Mr. Steele is going to have to assess as to whether he can still lead the Republican Party as chairman of the Republican National Committee."

Of course, with less than four months to go until the midterm elections, it may be fair to question if teh Republican Party can afford to oust Steele as RNC chairman at this point, for fear of disrupting ongoing campaigns.

One thing is for certain: Michael Steele would clearly be better served to keep politically-motivated comment on foreign policy to himself, at least until the midterm elections are over.

At that point, the Republican will have to make a decision on whether or not they can continue to the key confrontation with Barack Obama in 2012 with Steele in place.


  1. Anonymous2:31 AM


  2. Is it possible Steele was not clear on his statements?

    The short timelines, the shortage of resources, the rules of engagement have been alleged to be a problem in dealing with the local and foreign insurgents.

    If the local population are not onboard, I don't see how we (Nato) can expect a different outcome than a stalemate and waiting game with IED.

    The insurgents do not amass a large group anymore for battles and have deployed a public relations campaign with great success.

  3. Something has gone seriously wrong with Steele, mentally. This is not the way he was a year ago. Suddenly, he has been making very odd remarks and acting irrationally.

  4. Previously, I generally approved what Steele has been doing as chairman of the RNC. He's brought a fresh approach to a party that direly needed it.

    He needs to get himself straightened out and thinking clearly. Could the stress be getting to him?


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