Is there a more perfect example of why Republicans should never be at the table when discussing our next moves in Afghanistan? Watch how Sen. John "On Any Sunday" McCain glosses over the constant cheerleading he and his GOP cohorts did in Iraq, despite there never being a connection between Saddam and 9/11, despite there never being any real WMDs, despite the fact that we created a vacuum in the country that enabled the burgeoning of al Qaeda in Iraq.
KING: Many see a parallel to Iraq, in the sense that it’s been eight years in Afghanistan, now it’s been billions of dollars, we have shed American blood there and yet, a European commission report out just this past week says for all the efforts to train the Afghan National Army, there’s a 24% rate of attrition. And others have said that not only do they leave, but they take their weapons with them and some of them still get paid. What has gone wrong and what is the United States doing wrong when it comes to the fundamental challenge of getting the Afghans ready to do this themselves?
McCAIN: First of all, rightly or wrongly, we were focused on Iraq. I happened to believe we had to win there. Whether we should have gone in or not, weapons of mass destruction, you’ve covered on other days. But I think the important point here is that again, if the military of a country does not think they’re going to succeed, you have all kinds of problems. Look at the total collapse of the Iraqi Army at one point after we had…we had built them up.
Um, hello? Do you not get that what YOU think is important is highly questionable when you can't get the fundamentals right? Honestly, you think the problem of attrition in the Afghan army has to do with them worried that they won't succeed? Do you even know what success looks like in Afghanistan? Do you have the hubris to assume that it looks the same for the Afghanis?
As Frank Rich says, Two Wrongs Makes Another Fiasco:
Let’s be clear: Those who demanded that America divert its troops and treasure from Afghanistan to Iraq in 2002 and 2003 — when there was no Qaeda presence in Iraq — bear responsibility for the chaos in Afghanistan that ensued. Now they have the nerve to imperiously and tardily demand that America increase its 68,000-strong presence in Afghanistan to clean up their mess — even though the number of Qaeda insurgents there has dwindled to fewer than 100, according to the president’s national security adviser, Gen. James Jones.
But why let facts get in the way? Just as these hawks insisted that Iraq was “the central front in the war on terror” when the central front was Afghanistan, so they insist that Afghanistan is the central front now that it has migrated to Pakistan. When the day comes for them to anoint Pakistan as the central front, it will be proof positive that Al Qaeda has consolidated its hold on Somalia and Yemen.
To appreciate this crowd’s spotless record of failure, consider its noisiest standard-bearer, John McCain. He made every wrong judgment call that could be made after 9/11. It’s not just that he echoed the Bush administration’s constant innuendos that Iraq collaborated with Al Qaeda’s attack on America. Or that he hyped the faulty W.M.D. evidence to the hysterical extreme of fingering Iraq for the anthrax attacks in Washington. Or that he promised we would win the Iraq war “easily.” Or that he predicted that the Sunnis and the Shiites would “probably get along” in post-Saddam Iraq because there was “not a history of clashes” between them.What’s more mortifying still is that McCain was just as wrong about Afghanistan and Pakistan. He routinely minimized or dismissed the growing threats in both countries over the past six years, lest they draw American resources away from his pet crusade in Iraq.
All I can say is if John McCain is pushing for troop surges in Afghanistan, that's all the more reason for me to consider withdrawal.