Why Jim Hightower Shouldn’t Be the Only One Debating John McCain on Afghanistan

ZP Heller

The same neocons who orchestrated the war in Iraq and undermined US
efforts in Afghanistan the first time around are at it again,
determined to sink us deeper into the costly Afghan quagmire.  They
have resurfaced in the form of the Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), a
Washington think tank headed by Robert Kagan, Bill Kristol, and Dan
Senor.  As Sam Stein reported last week
on The Huffington Post, the FPI will hold a summit this Tuesday titled
"Afghanistan: Planning for Success."  And slated to attend the event
are powerful Republicans and Democrats like Sen. John McCain (R-AZ),
Rep. John M. McHugh (R-NY), and Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA).  What's
particularly troubling about McCain and a think tank like the FPI is
that they are trying to manipulate President Obama's plans for military
escalation into a massive, limitless war of Iraq proportions.

We already know where McCain stands on Afghanistan.  He and fellow
warmonger Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) celebrated the sixth anniversary of
the Iraq war by urging the Obama administration
to support an all-out military commitment in Afghanistan, regardless of
cost.  McCain clearly shares the FPI's warped notion of "success" in
Afghanistan, which he has discussed everywhere from the Op-Ed pages of
the Washington Post to his recent speech at the American
Enterprise Institute.  He envisions a Utopian outcome to this war, one
in which our military engages in a broad-based, long-term
counterinsurgency to create "a stable, secure, self-governing
Afghanistan that is not a terrorist sanctuary."  Compounding that
highly improbable scenario is the fact that McCain and the FPI are
getting away with defining "success" in Afghanistan because not enough
mainstream journalists or members of Congress are contesting their

You know your foreign policy is highly questionable if Bill Kristol goes on FOX News and
says he supports it, which is what happened yesterday.  Kristol was
able to sweep Obama's plan into the neocon call for a major
counterinsurgency, falsely claiming an all-out war is in the interest
of national security and defeating al Qaeda.  Kristol even managed to
suggest Obama is now divided with his own administration on
Afghanistan, and in a twisted retrospective kicker, Kristol compared
the Afghan and Iraq surges to imply President Bush actually showed good

Because Obama is toying with escalation by sending 4,000 trainers
(in addition to the 17,000 troops he already pledged), McCain, Kristol
and their FPI cohorts are now taking that foreign policy to the logical
extremes of military commitment.  But where are the journalists to call
out Kristol?  Where are the members of Congress who will hold oversight
hearings that bring in real experts to explain to us what escalation
will mean for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the United States?  More
people ought to be picking apart McCain's wholly unrealistic notion of
victory and reclaiming the frame of success in Afghanistan; just watch
Jim Hightower show you how it's done.

The reality is that the kind of success McCain and the FPI dream of would require an commitment of at least 640,000 troops-a
far fry from the 21,000 Obama has called for.  And if the current rate
of escalation could cost our country $1 trillion by the end of Obama's
first term, as Tom Hayden has predicted in his must-read piece "Don't Go There, Mr. President,"
then you can only imagine how much this war could cost (and how
exponentially difficult it will become to pull ourselves out of this
recession) if we keep allowing McCain and his neocon pals at the FPI to
manipulate foreign policy.

It's time to reclaim the frame on Afghanistan, and that starts with real debate in the mainstream media and the halls of Congress.

ZP Heller is the Editorial Director of Brave New Films.

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