Something very interesting has been happening with conservatives lately. They're turning against the war in Afghanistan.
Sure, the majority of Americans have been opposed to the war for some time now, predominantly made up of Democrats and progressives. But there was always that nagging little problem of the Republican base, specifically their ferocious pro-war attitude.
They carry a lot of weight in the public discourse, so their powerful vocal support for the war would often drown out the (vastly more popular) critical voices. But not anymore.
Dan Froomkin reports:
A prominent conservative thinker is calling on Republicans to begin a serious debate about the war in Afghanistan, its costs and what Ronald Reagan would do in the same circumstances.
And while Grover Norquist stopped short of personally calling for a rapid withdrawal, he made it clear Tuesday night that he thinks an honest conversation on the right would inevitably lead to that conclusion.
Norquist said the question for those who want to reduce government spending is this: "If you don't take $10 billion out of the occupation of Afghanistan, you're going to take it out where?"
He said the debate about the war in Afghanistan should include discussion "about the vast expenditures of cash, the vast expenditures of other people lives, and the opportunity cost" of money and effort that could be expended elsewhere.
"It seems to me that it has been more expensive than not. And it has made America weaker than otherwise," he said.
This was prompted by a survey conducted by the Afghanistan Study Group, which found that conservatives, including self-described "Tea Party Supporters", are well on the path to opposing the war outright:
Conservatives and Tea Party supporters are worried about the costs of the war in Afghanistan. 71% of conservatives overall, and 67% of conservative Tea Party supporters, indicate worry that the costs will make it more difficult for the United States to reduce the deficit this year and balance the federal budget by the end of this decade. Significant percentages of conservative men (67%) and women (75%) indicate concern about the costs of the war as do conservatives in all age groups. Those in active duty military or veteran households are as worried about the costs of the war (69%) as those in non-military households (72%). 61% of conservatives who believe the war has been worth fighting are worried about the current level of costs.
Two-thirds of conservatives support a reduction in troop levels in Afghanistan. When given a choice between three options, 66% believe we can either reduce the troop levels in Afghanistan, but continue to fight the war effectively (39%) or think we should leave Afghanistan all together, as soon as possible (27%). Just 24% of conservatives believe we should continue to provide the current level of troops to properly execute the war. 64% of Tea Party supporters think we should either reduce troop levels (37%) or leave Afghanistan (27%) while 28% support maintaining current troop levels. Among conservatives who don't identify with the Tea Party movement, 70% want a reduction (43%) or elimination (27%) of troops while only 18% favoring continuation of the current level.
This is all great, but we shouldn't get too excited or oversell it. It's not like Medea Benjamin is about to get her own show on FOX News anytime soon.
But what this shows us is, much like the Democratic base and the public at large, conservatives are starting to add up the facts and are coming to the same conclusion: we've got to get out of Afghanistan.
Of course, not everyone in the conservative movement is happy about this. Some of them are looking around and realizing they're the only ones left who still think we have infinite soldiers and money to throw at whatever brown people we disagree with on any given day. And they're losing their sh*t about it.
Here's Max Boot:
If you want any further evidence of conservative support for the war effort in Afghanistan, look no further than Grover Norquist's laughable effort to organize a "center-right" coalition against the war. Apparently, Grover wants to pull out of Afghanistan as a money-saving measure -- a line of argument, which if followed to its natural conclusion, should also have led us to pull out of World War II while Hitler or Tojo were still in power or to end the Civil War while Jefferson Davis still ruled the South. Think of all the millions we could have saved by ending wars prematurely -- quite a bonanza, especially if you ignore the rather substantial costs of defeat.
Got that? If you think even one war is too costly, you think all wars evar evar are too costly, especially the ones that Max Boot likes. If you want to end the war in Afghanistan, you want Hitler to win World War II!
Norquist seems quite enamored of Ronald Reagan's pullout from Lebanon after the suicide car-bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983. Perhaps he is not aware that this incident was routinely cited -- along with the U.S. pullout from Somalia in 1993 -- by Osama bin Laden in the 1990s to justify his belief that the U.S. was a "weak horse" that could be attacked with impunity. Note to Grover: Even the great Ronald Reagan was not infallible.
So, basically Ronald Reagan caused 9/11, and that's kinda Grover Norquist's fault, y'know, if you think about it.
I told you guys, they're losing their friggin' minds.
Somehow I think the conservative base is pretty secure for the war effort, because it understands what Grover does not: that we are locked in an existential struggle against Islamist extremists and that defeat in Afghanistan would have severe consequences for us that make the cost of winning the war seem cheap by comparison. It's the lack of liberal support for the war effort that we have to worry about.
"Somehow" Max Boot decides that facts aren't real life because he believes the rest of the conservative movement agrees with his quasi-racist bullshit about existential struggles with Islam. Why? Because he said so. He's Max Boot, who are you? That's what I thought.
And how about that line about liberals being the real problem? Either that means 66% of Americans are far left liberals for opposing the war, or Max Boot just wants you to go pick a fight with someone on DailyKos instead of asking serious questions about the war in Afghanistan. I'm betting it's the latter.
Add it up: If you're a conservative who questions the war, you want the Japs to beat us in WWII, you caused 9/11, and you want to see the Constitution replaced with Sharia Law. Just like a Liberal! What's next? First you end the war in Afghanistan, next thing you know, you're gay marrying Mullah Omar in Red Square.
If that's the best argument for war they've got, I think we'll be seeing more and more conservatives turning against the war, and eventually, working with us to end it.