Posted by Rojas @ 6:00 pm on June 20th 2011

A familiar argument from a suprising source

It’s not unusual to hear the argument made that several of the Republican candidates for President will be more likely to end America’s overseas wars than the incumbent:

In the case of Afghanistan, an increasing number of US citizens agree that troop withdrawals are in the country’s interest. But if the current president initiates a withdrawal, one of his many opportunistic opponents will employ the slogan: “Barack Obama abandoned Afghanistan to al-Qaeda” – or something like it – to likely great effect.

While Obama will not be eligible to run for president in 2016 (if he wins in 2012), he will campaign for his Democratic successor – which means that the vulnerability to “weak” sloganeering will continue to restrict his ability to manoeuvre.

A Republican president is not subject to the same perceptions. If a Mitt Romney or Ron Paul chose to end any of America’s five overt or covert wars (Afghanistan; Iraq; Libya; Pakistan; Yemen), no Democrat can credibly accuse him of harming national security.

The conclusion is that if anti-war liberals hope to see a US withdrawal from Afghanistan before 2016, they are better off voting for the Republican candidate in 2012 – provided it is one of the candidates who voiced an interest in withdrawing – or at least withholding the vote from Obama.

But this may be the first time I’ve heard the argument made by a commentator at al-Jazeera.

1 Comment »

  1. In 2008 I largely thought that my vote for Obama was a vote to avoid war with Iran, which I feared would be a major priority for the neoconservatives under McCain. So far so good on that front, despite the wars in Libya and Yemen.

    I think Yemen makes sense as a continuation of the status quo under Bush. Libya is the real outlier, but I do think that the neoconservative push would have been to get involved once the civil war started.

    But Libya and the “Arab Spring” has reminded me how difficult it is to make assumptions about the decisions facing a President. I tend to assume that some sort of crisis with Iran is coming in the long term, but I could just as well be convinced that the real foreign policy crisis facing the president elected in 2012 will be some sort of revolt/revolution/civil war in Nigeria.

    If prospective voting doesn’t work, retrospective voting seems frustratingly ineffective. We voted against Bush for Iraq, but Obama didn’t seem to get the message. Will Romney or Huntsman?

    Comment by VALiberaltarian — 6/20/2011 @ 8:32 pm

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