Last night I joined Rachel Maddow to talk about Mitt Romney's evolving views on Afghanistan. At various times, Romney has said we needed to get out of the Afghanistan mess, agreeing for the most part at the time of early GOP debates with House Representative and then presidential candidate Michele Bachmann until shifting to a harder-line posture on staying in Afghanistan.
Romney, who has endorsed the general time frame of closing down most of the U.S. mission in Afghanistan at the end of 2014 has been critical of Obama's decision to drawdown the committed surge forces and bringing levels to 68,000. Obama -- acting like a commander-in-chief should have listened to the advice of 'the generals' and then made a decision based on larger strategic factors and ordered that the surge troops be drawn out. Romney has implied that Obama should not only 'listen to the generals' but should do what they tell him.
Romney might want to go back and read testimony given by former ISAF Commander General David Petraeus about Afghanistan before Congress in which Petraeus said that the recommendations he was making were based on factors inside and related to Afghanistan alone -- but were not taking into account the larger "strategic situation." Petraeus shied away from giving a strategic assessment of the value of Afghanistan in relation to other matters like America's posture with Iran, with the broader Middle East, with stability dynamics in South Asia -- particularly with Pakistan and India.
Obama and his national security team lead by Tom Donilon and Denis McDonough have committed to a strategic rebalancing of US forces and long-term commitments. They are working to downsize America's vulnerability to the instability and challenges in the Middle East and South Asia which are sapping American resources and power and deploy to where global economic growth is shifting: Asia.
If Mitt Romney re-reads his Citadel speech and checks out the Asia sections, he agrees that Asia needs more attention.
The clip of my discussion with Rachel Maddow follows below:
Rachel Maddow talks to Atlantic Editor-at-Large Steve Clemons about whether John McCain is pushing Mitt Romney into more hawkish, never leave Afghanistan position
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