Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, Senator Lindsey Graham worried that Democrats and some Republicans could form an “unholy alliance” in order to de-fund the War in Afghanistan if there doesn’t not appear to be any significant achievement by next year:
That there are some Republicans who are not going to take a, you know, do or die attitude for Obama’s war. There are some Republicans that want to make this Obama’s war. You saw some of Michael Steele’s comments. There will be some Republicans saying you can’t win because of the July 2011 withdrawal date, he’s made it impossible for us to win, so why should we throw good money after bad? Why should any more lives be lost in a hopeless cause because Obama screwed it up? You’ve got people on the left who are mad with the president because he is doing exactly what Bush did and we’re in a war we can’t win. My concern is that, for different reasons, they join forces and we lose the ability to hold this thing together.
I can’t help wondering if the “some Republicans” Graham speaks about might include himself, because his fear doesn’t seem to hold up to recent history.
While Graham is not wrong about the specter of Republicans jumping on the cut-and-run bandwagon, we have been through this dance before, back in 2007, when we at about the same time into the Iraq surge. There were a number of Republicans, led by likes of former Senator Chuck Hagel, who had come out against the war.
“If there aren’t 60 votes” to approve any of the proposed amendments to the defense authorization bill, she said, “I assure you, by September there will be.”
The only difference in this case is that Graham has marked December as the point where legislators are likely to start getting uneasy about the surge, but the message is the same: “Democrats and Republicans are going to get together and stop this thing!”
Except…that’s not what happened in 2007. The surge in Iraq did work, because legislators, and especially most Republicans, gave it time to work. It took several months, and up to a year, to fully realize the Iraq surge’s success, so we must also give this one time to play out.
It’s going to require a leap of faith, but really, so did the Iraq surge, and when the majority of Republicans gave it the time it needed to work, it did!
Graham must also take into consideration that the make-up of the chamber is likely to change significantly by the time any vote would come up. If conservatives re-take one or both chambers in November, that will make it much more difficult to pass any de-funding bill.
I’m worried that the Senator’s apparent case of amnesia about the summer/fall of 2007, plus his inability to see that his party may soon have a role to play in stopping the Congressional Democrats from ending the war after the next election, means that he may be pre-planning his own role in drawing down the war, should it come to that. I hope I’m wrong, because we’re barely into a surge which has not been given time to produce results.
However, when it comes time to evaluate the situation in Afghanistan, Senator Graham should remain on the correct side of the rhetorical battle, and not be pushed into the “unholy alliance” he so dreads. He’s been a fairly staunch supporter of the war so far, so I’d like to see it remain that way.