(HOST) Commentator Bill Seamans has been thinking about political debate – and the war in Afghanistan.
(SEAMANS) Just as our early Indian hunters put their ears to the ground to hear the rumble of unseen buffalo herds heading their way our people in Washington are hearing a growing political rumble from Afghanistan – the rapidly rising death toll of our top airborne and Marine fighters, a record Army suicide rate, and the growing veterans burden of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – the invisible psychiatric wounds of war. These are personal tragedies readily understood by Main Street that can’t be minimized by political rhetoric.
Suddenly this week there’s renewed political attention being paid to the two major questions being asked by the public – Will someone please tell us what Victory in Afghanistan means – and how long will we continue pouring the lives of our precious youth and billions of national treasure into what looks more and more like a reflection of the Vietnam quagmire?
Two Washington words of the Week have emerged and you will hear them more and more – they are RETHINK AFGHANISTAN – that’s RETHINK AFGHANISTAN! The drift from Capitol Hill, the polls and the punditocracy is that the war in Afghanistan is losing public support – that it is failing and that we must RETHINK our strategy. Newsweek ran a cover story this week calling for RETHINKING AFGHANISTAN. It argues that the war is not working and not worth the costs.
Also, you might have heard John Kerry speaking as Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee say "it’s not clear that the Administration has a solid strategy." Foreign policy guru Sen. Richard Lugar said there is a "lack of clarity about U.S. goals." Sen. Carl Levin thinks "solid support is beginning to fray." As we get closer to the midterm elections the demands to RETHINK AFGHANISTAN after nine years of indecisive war are surfacing as a major election issue that I hope will wake the public to finally pay attention to the war and pressure our lawmakers to stop avoiding critical decisions.
President Obama has, as promised, followed his Generals advice. The core of the strategy question is Gen. David Petraeus’s counterinsurgency doctrine which calls for our troops to use less force and mix more with the people to try to turn them against the Taliban – which Petraeus admits means greater risks for our troops. And Petraeus’s burden is made even more complex by the debatable deadline to start withdrawing our troops at the end of next summer.
The looming political debate over the need to rethink our Afghanistan strategy – whether we should stay or get out – is a decision about which I think we the people will not be in a mood to compromise.