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The Huffington Post

Authors of Iraq War Push Obama on Afghanistan

Sam Stein

US Marines keep watch on a hilltop during a patrol in Helmand province, southern Afghanistan, on September 21. (AFP/David Furst)

The neoconservatives who provided the intellectual foundation for
the war in Iraq convened on Monday to make a renewed push for the
current administration to pursue greater military engagement in

Hours after it was reported that military officials are advising
President Obama to send up to 40,000 more American troops to the
eight-year-long war, former Republican presidential candidate Mitt
Romney joined the intellectuals at the Foreign Policy Initiative forum
to declare any future policy debate moot.

"This is not the time for Hamlet in the White House," said Romney, mocking President Barack Obama's appeal for more time to decide the best course forward for U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

"Hopefully he has had the time to deal with the issue of
Afghanistan," Romney added. "He will make the decision, which is called
for by as great a team of military minds that has ever been assembled
for a conflict like this... This team is unanimous. They have developed
a strategy that is consistent with his principles. How in the world can
he at this stage be saying what he is saying?"

Speaking before the FPI -- a group headed by many of the chief intellectual authors of the war in Iraq, including The Weekly Standard's
Bill Kristol, renowned neocon Robert Kagan, and former adviser to the
Coalition in Iraq Dan Senor -- Romney's remarks were filled with other
carefully-worded criticisms of Obama's foreign policy. The president
had shown himself to be "a reluctant and timid defender of freedom,"
was pursuing a "dramatic" and "revolutionary" departure from previous
approaches to global affairs and was alienating our allies in an effort
to placate emerging international forces, argued the former
Massachusetts governor argued.

"All politicians are in love with love," Romney said of the alleged
"neutrality" that Obama had brought to U.S. diplomatic relations. "I
think it flows in part from the sense that is growing in a lot of
foreign policy circles that America is in decline. And that is
inevitable that other great nations will surpass America and therefore
the job of the president of the US should be to manage America through
decline and make sure that we are in good stead with the Chinese and
the Russians and these other contenders."

And yet, for all the foreign policy machismo and rhetorical
platitudes offered by Romney, a countervailing truth seemed to temper
his and others remarks. On the topic of Afghanistan, Obama and the
neocons are far closer to one another than they are apart. The
president, to date, has pursued policies that even former rivals like
Sen. John McCain, (R-A.Z.) and Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.) have cheered.

At an earlier panel at the FPI forum, the president was urged once
more to follow the recommendations that his top military commander in
Afghanistan, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, laid out in a 66-page assessment of the situation in that country.

"The primary objective [in Afghanistan] is to protect the United
States" from another 9/11," said Rep. Mark Kirk, a Republican
Senatorial candidate in Illinois. My job, Kirk added, is to "make sure
that everyone in [Chicago's] Sears Tower can come home tonight."

But others were more accommodating of the president's desire for
deliberation, noting the need to build up public support for the
endeavor and the long-term implications of any additional troop

"The support of the American people is the center of gravity for the next ten years," said Brig. Gen. Mark T. Kimmitt,
USA (Ret.). Given the extent of the commitment hoped for, this "is
going need some deliberation," Kimmitt said, "we don't want to see a
rush to failure."

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