All I can say is: Imagine if a Republican were in the White House. Even with President Obama in charge, some leftist members of Congress are challenging the need to build up our forces in Afghanistan. “I’ve got the sinking feeling we are getting sucked into something we will never get out of,” says Representative Jim McGovern of Massachusetts. But such qualms are unlikely to have much practical impact because the leadership of Congress is solidly behind the war effort. The New York Times describes Nancy Pelosi’s views as follows:
“Afghanistan is where the terrorist threat exists to the world, not just the United States,” said the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, who said the Bush administration’s decision to focus on Iraq left unfinished a mission in Afghanistan that originally had broad support in Congress.
Ms. Pelosi, Democrat of California, said she believed the administration had assembled a strong program for Afghanistan, focused not just on a military presence but also on civilian construction projects, enhanced intelligence gathering, and government improvements. She said any benchmarks would best be put on the use of military aid to Pakistan.
I would be willing to bet all the pot in her San Francisco district that if it were President McCain surging U.S. troops in Afghanistan, Speaker Pelosi would be singing a different tune. In all likelihood she would be bemoaning America’s involvement in nation building, demanding to know why we were going into the graveyard of empires, and insisting on benchmarks that could force a speedy withdrawal. President McCain probably would have still prevailed over Afghanistan but only with considerable difficulty. President Obama may face a little rough questioning of his appointees, such as Secretary of State Clinton, but that will be it. At least for the time being. If U.S. forces can’t produce progress in the next year, no doubt Congressional objections will rise, and not only from Democrats. But given Obama’s commanding position within the country at large and within his own party in particular, as long as he keeps his nerve, it is likely he can continue to make the difficult decisions necessary to turn around the situation in Afghanistan.