The embattled chairman of the Republican National Committee said recently that the war in Afghanistan was "a war of Obama's choosing." For that comment, he was both excoriated and supported by writers and politicians in his own political party. In a nuanced way, Steele is right: the current conflict was one that Obama campaigned on as the true front in the War on Terror. Obama was right, and he was also right to tell Americans to expect things to get worse before they got better. And they are definitely worse. So Obama did choose to escalate in Afghanistan and the current results are under his watch. How it gets better is anyone's guess; I, for one, am not convinced they will.
But the nefarious thing going on now is that Republicans are trying to frame the debate on Afghanistan so that they can run in 2012 as anti-war, which is currently the very popular and populist opinion of many Americans, including The New Republic's Andy Bacevich, who writes that Obama's choices in Afghanistan reveal that he lacks a moral compass. Those comments are not from someone who is a libertarian, a Tea Partier, or even a Republican. Bacevich is a reliable voice on the center-left, and he wants us out now. Steele's comments suggest that the GOP position going forward will be one that captures the sentiment among the Republican faithful that Obama is an utter failure on all counts, that he has harmed the country, made it less safe, and sent soldiers off to die in an unnecessary war. See, the prevailing feeling among most Republicans I know is: "Afghanistan? Just a bunch of Muslims! Fuck 'em! Let 'em kill each other."
Turning the Republicans into the anti-war party in two years -- brilliant. It can be done, I tell ya.