In wake of Afghanistan mess, McCain & Romney blast Obama for poor leadership

ROMNEY: Well, before I take a stand at a particular course of action, I want to get the input from the people who are there. General Allen is going to be coming to Washington and testifying this week about what the conditions are. I think it's very plain to see that the conditions are not going very well.

And the — and I lay part of the blame on that on the lack of leadership on the part of our president, both in terms of his interaction with Karzai and with leaders there, as well as his relative detachment from our military commanders there and the fact that he published a specific date for a withdrawal, published a date for withdrawal of our combat operations there, did not oversee elections in Afghanistan that would have convinced the people there that they had elected someone that they could have confidence in, did not put enough troops into the surge, as what's requested by the military. He certainly takes part of the blame for the failure there, and we're going to get our troops out soon as we possibly can.

But this does have the indications of a similarly failed withdrawal or fail would completion effort on the part of this president, just like we saw in Iraq. He likewise failed in the way we left Iraq. And this is a president simply does not have experience in tough situations — not negotiating experience, not leadership experience — and it's showing once again the result that one might have expected from lack of leadership.

So at least there's that.

On NBC's Meet The Press McCain said despite the current mood, the U.S. is, as Charlie Sheen would put it, winning in Afghanistan.

SEN. McCAIN: But on a pure military tactical standpoint, we are winning, but what the president keeps talking about is how quick we're going to withdraw. So put yourself in President Karzai's place. You see in the front page of The New York Times says debate in the administration, you know, about how quick to withdraw, how speedy the withdrawal's going to be. Well, President Karzai has ambitions to stay there. One of his predecessors ended up being hung from a lamp post in Kabul.

So instead of saying we're going to win this war, what President Obama said in 2008, it was the quote "good war that we must win," instead, all we hear about is plans for withdrawal, plans for withdrawal, how quick the withdrawal will be. How about a commitment to victory. The American people understandably are terribly war-weary and I understand that. But it requires a leader who can explain to the American people why this can succeed. Three times the president has gone against the recommendations of his military advisers. The first one was, of course, was when he announced that we would have 30,000 in a surge instead of 40,000. So what I think we've got to do is understand how tough this is, convince Karzai that we are there to win, and we still have intractable problems, such as corruption and the Pakistanis.

Compounding the sense of crisis in Afghanistan, on Thursday Taliban negotiators said they were ending talks with the U.S. — talks which the White House had been banking on to end the conflict. Throughout the debate season, Romney has blasted Obama for daring to negotiate with the Taliban, even though McCain and even some of Romney's own foreign policy advisers have disagreed with the candidate's stance.

According to John McCain, the U.S. is succeeding "on the ground" in Afghanistan.

But reading the international section of the newspapers over the past week, one doesn't get that sense — for example, when Afghan leader Hamid Karzai calls the Americans in his country "demons."

The U.S. has refocused on its mission in Afghanistan over the past week after Staff Sgt. Robert Bales gunned down 16 innocent Afghan villagers. It was Bales' fourth tour of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan over the past decade. The civilian shootings prompted Karzai to demand that NATO troops leave Afghan villages and turn over security to Afghanistan forces ahead of their 2014 departure date.

McCain and Mitt Romney took to the airwaves on Sunday morning to blast President Obama for the current quagmire in Afghanistan, collectively saying he hasn't shown sufficient leadership or engagement.

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Romney essentially blamed all the troubles in Afghanistan on Obama, saying if he were president he'd be calling Hamid Karzai every day, as if that would solve all the problems with our very awkward relationship with the Afghan leader. When asked by Fox News Sunday's Bret Baier what his plan was, he didn't offer one, instead saying he'd defer to the military for advice.

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