GOP hawks urge Romney not to abandon Afghanistan

Some Republicans are telling Mitt Romney to publicly break with President Obama over his strategy of withdrawal in Afghanistan and commit the US to achieving a better outcome there.

The Hill:

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told The Hill on Wednesday the Romney camp needed to distance itself from the Obama administration's goal of pulling all American forces from Afghanistan by 2014.

They should, instead, pursue a war plan focused on "what we leave behind" in the country, not just ending the war as soon as possible, according to Graham.

"It's about getting it right," the South Carolina Republican said. Getting it right, he added, almost certainly means keeping U.S. forces in country past the administration's deadline.

"On the first day of a Romney administration," the presumed president-elect needed to call a meeting of the top U.S. commanders in Afghanistan and chart a different strategic course for the country, Graham said.

"And if [they] need to change the timetable in Afghanistan, that is what we will do," Graham said.

The Romney camp has been hammered in recent months by Democrats and by some within the GOP for not clearly defining the candidate's position on Afghanistan.

On the campaign trail, Romney has publicly agreed with the 2014 deadline, but chastised the administration for giving insurgents a date certain for a U.S. pullout.

Obama campaign officials claim the 2014 deadline represents the president's commitment to ending the Afghan war in the same way then-candidate Obama promised to end the Iraq war in 2008.

Friday's withdrawal of the remaining 32,000 "surge" troops sent to Afghanistan in 2009 is the latest sign the White House is delivering on that promise, according to administration officials.

This has always been a tough one and Romney has always seemed to be of two minds on the issue. There is no doubt that we are leaving too early, that the Afghanistan government of President Karzai is nowhere near ready to "stand up" as we stand down.

It is also a probable outcome of our withdrawal that the Taliban will either effect a military takeover, or will successfully embed itself in the Afghan government - with our help - and eventually move Karzai out.

The question for the US is one of diminishing returns from our military effrort that over a period of time would not materially effect that outcome. Unless we are willing to commit several hundred thousand more troops to the fight, it is not likely that the situation will be any different a decade from now than it will be in 2014 when we leave. Afghanistan is hardly a country at all, with a corrupt and unpopular government that appears incapable of doing the things necessary to protect itself.

Romney won't take such an unpopular political position in the midst of a presidential campaign anyway. The hawks will probably be proved right in the end, but the reality is that the US government and people lack the will to continue the conflict in Afghanistan and see it through to a more advantegous outcome for the US.