Speaker John Boehner is on a mission with a special House delegation to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iraq. He’s main goal is to get a feel for conditions on the ground in those countries. It is a pretty routine trip so far. In a recent speech Boehner said this:
“During our meeting with General Petraeus, he noted that security gains have been made in Afghanistan, but that they are fragile and reversible,” Boehner said“That is why we must remain steadfast in our commitment to the counterinsurgency strategy our commanders on the ground have put in place and to ensuring its success, rather than focusing on meeting arbitrary deadlines for withdrawal,” he added. “Any drawdown of U.S. troops must be based on the conditions on the ground, not on political calculations. If the Obama Administration insists on beginning to draw down troops in July, it must explain how the pace and scope of such a move will not undermine the tenuous progress we’ve made thus far. To date, it has not done so.”
I have a weird suspicion that July could be hot, and I’m just talking about the temperature, month for the Obama administration in Afghanistan. There could be real divide about whether to start withdrawing troops then or wait a little while longer. Several polls have indicated that people are tired of Afghanistan and want to focus on domestic projects. With the Tea Party holding this similar view, the President could have an ally.
In 2004, and too an extent in 2006, Republicans used a strategy to attack Democrats who wanted a set time table for withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan. It worked then because the U.S. had not been in those conflicts as long. That same magic may not exist this time. Boehner will be in a tough spot if he argues for staying longer. Like all of his battles, the greatest one will be within his own party. The Tea Party on one side and the Bush era Republicans on the other. Usually, the American public would side with the military on these types of topics, but they already did that last time when Obama granted then General McCrystal the 30,000 troops he needed. If the military says “give us more time” that might not jive so well for an American public weary of war.
So, I would say Republicans could play the argue against this timeline, but it may not work out in their best interest.
Photo Credit: Politico
U.S. State Department has little faith in lifting Syria’s emergency law will stop protesters
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Speaker Boehner visits Afghanistan
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Get the lowdown on Donald Trump’s foreign policy
U.S. and the Afghan opium market
Figures of Note:
Gallup looks at global wellbeing
Opinions of Note:
Annie Lowrey says the S&P downgrade is more about political gridlock than debt
Thomas Donnelly defends defensive spending
My First Thought: Everything is not a sign
In some ways, I think that S&P did not send the message that most people knew, America is not in good place with its fiscal house of cards. By announcing that it “might” downgrade U.S. bonds to AA instead of AAA, everyone freaked out. I am here to say that this is not the sign from God or the Easter miracle everyone should be cheering on. In fact, it reminds me of that Bill Engvall bit, “Here’s your sign.” The whole Washington beltway cannot freak out every time an agency or organization with the power to place a label on the U.S. does to. That would be like if VH1 placed Paul McCartney on the #1 spot of a countdown about the worst artists ever. McCartney would not freak out because it is just one list. People will still buy his music and he will remain super rich.
I agree, a plan needs to be in place to fix the long term problem. Unfortunately, campaign season is coming up and no side wants to make drastic cuts that would hurt constituent voters. Politics and economics do not mesh well in a world where politics drives the news. More importantly, the deficit collapsing the U.S. as a global hegemon is a long ways off. With Washington’s incompetence at solving short term problems and the American people’s short attention span, it will be a while before this problem is solved. 2013 is when the problem will get worse, but that is 2 years away and it should just be a warning bell. Until then, everyone should just take a deep breadth and stop freaking out!
Photo Credit: Fox News
Here is my show from April 19. It is my last show of the season!
Show (starts about 2 minutes in)
Standard and Poor warns of U.S. bond downgrade – hurting stock market
Protesters continue to gather in Syria asking for leader’s resignation
Afghan security forces questioned capacity to defend after attack
Clinton pledges support from U.S. to Japan after earthquake
$64 billion in spending for Pentagon weapons program
Potential choices to replace Robert Gates
Rep. Dennis Kucinich: U.S. should take care of its priorities at home
“Arab Spring” could hurt U.S. involvement in Israel-Palestine peace process
Figures of Note:
Opinions of Note:
Daniel Drezner pokes fun at Donald Trump’s foreign policy positions
Daniel M. Price on the U.S. returning to the Doha Talks
Great Video Time: Tax Day, courtesy of Schoolhouse Rock
I hope you got your taxes in on time!
Photo Credit: Daily Telegraph
Figure from the Economist
Newly released Wikileaks cables reveal that the U.S. State Department gave funds to opposition groups in Syria. It is unclear about whether that happened during the protests or only just before. The Washington Post reports:
The London-based satellite channel, Barada TV, began broadcasting in April 2009 but has ramped up operations to cover the mass protests in Syria as part of a long-standing campaign to overthrow the country’s autocratic leader, Bashar al-Assad. Human rights groups say scores of people have been killed by Assad’s security forces since the demonstrations began March 18; Syria has blamed the violence on “armed gangs.” Barada TV is closely affiliated with the Movement for Justice and Development, a London-based network of Syrian exiles. Classified U.S. diplomatic cables show that the State Department has funneled as much as $6 million to the group since 2006 to operate the satellite channel and finance other activities insideSyria. The channel is named after the Barada River, which courses through the heart of Damascus, the Syrian capital. The U.S. money for Syrian opposition figures began flowing under President George W. Bush after he effectively froze political ties with Damascus in 2005. The financial backing has continued under President Obama, even as his administration sought to rebuild relations with Assad. In January, the White House posted an ambassador to Damascus for the first time in six years.
No one should be surprised by this. The U.S. does this a lot with rebel groups. I call it the “we will support you in spirit strategy.” If Syria’s leader Bashar al-Assad stays in power, it will be embarrassing for the U.S. to have supported an opposition group, which is why the Libya situation is also a problem. This would be the Egypt approach to the problem. The U.S. secretly wanted the protesters to win and also support Hosni Mubarak just in case. Eventually, the U.S. must pick sides, but until then, the U.S. will just bat for both teams.