Afghan incident exposes GOP fissures in foreign policy

So now two of the Republicans running for president are calling for the troops to come home now.

Maybe this is boring to you, but hear me out. We've got men and woman, out troops, who everybody professes to love and appreciate sacrificing for this country, but how do you show it? They're still in harm's way, and for what? Seriously, how bad is this going to be for U.S. troops now? They are already under fire for being there, and after the recent Koran debacle (it was an accident, but obviously with tensions so hot, how careless?), it 's only going to get worse. Seriously, if you read stories in the press, this is not like Iraq.

John McCain was on Fox after Gingrich. He didn't sound very convincing encouraging, trotting out 9-11 as a reason to stay there now.

MCCAIN: I understand the frustration and I understand the anger and the sorrow. I also understand and we should not forget the attacks on the United States of America in 9/11 originated in Afghanistan. And if Afghanistan dissolved into a situation where the Taliban were able to take over or a chaotic situation, it could easily return to an Al Qaeda base for attacks on the United States of America. That is still our goal, as it was the day we went in.

McCain's close ally on foreign policy matters, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, echoed similarly bland platitudes about the U.S. having positive momentum in the region despite Sunday's setback on ABC's This Week. "The of forces have really put the Taliban on the defensive. The Afghan Army is better equipped and better trained than ever...Ihope that the strategy partnership agreement between the United States and Afghanistan will stop the narrative we’re leaving," Graham said on ABC. "We can win this thing. We can get it right."

But can the patience of the American people last that long?

For supporters like McCain it's a tough slog, 10.5 years into the fight there. But animating the 75-year-old's spirits is the possibility of bombing another country - this time in Syria, where McCain has put himself out into the public square as one of the few U.S. Senators calling for air strikes to help out the Syrian people, who are being slaughtered on a daily basis by forces loyal to leader Bashar al-Assad.

He repeated his declaration to Fox's Chris Wallace on Sunday, saying a failure for the U.S. to intervene in Syria is nothing short of "a disgrace".

MCCAIN: First of all, let make it clear — I never called for unilateral U.S. action and we do not have to have boots on the ground.

What is taking place in Syria, as we speak, and, by the way, they are going into Idlib and the slaughter continues, is a violation of United States national security policy made by the president of the United States that we would prevent massacres wherever they take place. If the United States of America does not have the military capability with our allies to subdue the Syria military, then we have wasted about $700 billion a year.

Every time one of these crises comes up, we hear from this administration reasons why we can't do something, why we can't lead from in front. Instead, they want to lead from behind.

People are being massacred as we speak. And, by the way, General Mathis, the head of our Central Command, said and others have said, that if Syria fell, it would be the biggest blow to Iran in 25 years.

But the point is: massacres are taking place. Massacres were taking place in Bosnia and Kosovo, and under President Clinton, we intervened because that's what America is all about. These people are fighting for their freedom. They are being slaughtered in an unfair fight, being supplied by the Russians and Iranians — not only Iranian weapons but Iranians on the ground. It is not a fair fight.

And the United States of America does have capabilities with the our allies in exercising a lot of options and airpower is one of them. And for us not to do so, in my humble opinion, is disgraceful and shameful.

But as we referenced last week, McCain is a bit of a lone wolf in calling for such attacks. Not even Marco Rubio, who was forceful in joining with McCain and other hawks to intervene in Libya a year ago, is willing to join the Arizona Senator on this action, not yet anyhow.

Americans awoke Sunday morning to hear the horrific news that an American soldier wandering outside his base in a southern Afghan village had indiscriminately began shooting and killing at least 16 civilians, and undoubtedly setting off more anti-American sentiment in the region.

The incident emboldened GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich to declare on both Fox News Sunday and CBS's Face The Nation that it's time to pull U.S. troops out of Afghanistan now.

On Fox, Gingrich said the same thing:

GINGRICH: I think it's very likely that we have lost — tragically lost the lives and suffered injuries to a considerable number of young Americans on a mission that we're going to discover is not doable. And what point do you — by not doable I mean you are not going to get Afghanistan and Pakistan and frankly watch what's happening in Egypt with the Muslim Brotherhood — look at the things that are going on around the region and then ask yourself: is this, in fact, a harder, deeper problem that is not going to be susceptible to military force, at least not military forces in the scale we are prepared to do?

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