GOP’s Michael Steele Speaks Out Against War He Supported; Then Goes Back To Supporting It Again
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele is against the war in Afghanistan–now that a Democrat is in the White House. And his Republican Party brethren aren’t happy about his new position. Steele spoke at a Connecticut fundraiser on Thursday.
“If he’s such a student of history, has he not understood that, you know, that’s the one thing you don’t do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan? All right? Because everyone who’s tried, over a thousand years of history, has failed,” Steele said in the widely posted video (below). “And there are reasons for that. There are other ways to engage in Afghanistan.”
Steele’s comments drew sharp criticism from conservatives in his own party who called for his ouster because the comments are so much at variance with the GOP’s war stand. Hardliners such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) have been critical of Obama — but for the opposite reasons that Steele cited. McCain, and others fear that Obama will withdraw from Afghanistan on a fixed timetable before final victory — however that is defined.
Steele inexplicably referred to the Afghanistan conflict as “a war of Obama’s choosing,” even though it began nine years ago.
Steele also said of U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan: “This is not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.”
But last year, after Dick Cheney accused President Obama of “dithering” on Afghanistan, Steele referred to the war as a “crucial fight,” criticizing Obama even as he agreed with the plan to send more troops.
“Although this decision took far too long and it should not have, I am glad the president will finally provide General McChrystal with the troops he needs,” Steele said. “If the president remains committed to this crucial fight, Republicans – and the American people – will stand with him. But sending mixed signals by outlining the exit before these troops even get on the ground undermines their ability to succeed.”
But after news came out about Steele’s Thursday anti-war speech, he jumped back on board, issuing a statement via his spokesperson Doug Heye, in support of the war again. Heye told Hotsheet, “nowhere did Steele say or suggest that (a) we shouldn’t be there, (b) we can’t win or (c) he didn’t support the surge.”
Steele released a statement in response to the uproar prompted by the comments in which he said “There is no question that America must win the war on terror.”
“During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Barack Obama made clear his belief that we should not fight in Iraq, but instead concentrate on Afghanistan,” he continued. “Now, as President, he has indeed shifted his focus to this region. That means this is his strategy. And, for the sake of the security of the free world, our country must give our troops the support necessary to win this war.”
Added Steele: “As we have learned throughout history, winning a war in Afghanistan is a difficult task. We must also remember that after the tragedy of September 11, 2001, it is also a necessary one.Click here for reuse options!
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