News / USA

Afghanistan Emerging as Issue for US Republican Presidential Hopefuls

Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney answers a question as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, left, and Rep. Ron Paul, listen during the first Republican presidential debate in Manchester, New Hampshire, June 13, 2011
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney answers a question as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, left, and Rep. Ron Paul, listen during the first Republican presidential debate in Manchester, New Hampshire, June 13, 2011

In U.S. presidential politics the consensus among experts is that the domestic economy will be the central issue in next year’s campaign.  But the recent debate among Republican presidential contenders also focused on foreign policy, especially the future of the U.S. troop commitment in Afghanistan.  

The recent Republican debate had a different tone in the discussion of the war in Afghanistan compared to debates in the past two U.S. presidential elections.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney is the frontrunner for the Republican Party’s presidential nomination next year.  Romney says the long U.S. commitment to the war in Afghanistan should serve as a cautionary lesson to those who would support nation-building efforts in the future.

“I want those troops to come home based upon not politics, not based upon economics, but instead based upon the conditions on the ground determined by the generals," he said. "But I also think we have learned that our troops should not go off and try to fight a war of independence for another nation.  Only the Afghanis can win Afghanistan’s independence from the Taliban.”

In the past two presidential elections, the Republican candidates, John McCain in 2008 and President George W. Bush in 2004, emphasized the need for the U.S. to prevail over the Taliban in Afghanistan no matter how long it took.

But several of the Republican contenders running this year seem to reflect public opinion polls that show Republicans and Democrats alike growing weary of the nearly 10-year-old U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.

Only one Republican contender, Texas Congressman Ron Paul, advocates for the immediate withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

“I wouldn’t wait for my generals.  I’m the commander in chief.  I make the decisions," he said. "I tell the generals what to do and I would bring them home as quickly as possible and I would get them out of Iraq as well.  And I wouldn’t start a war in Libya and I would quit bombing Yemen and I’d quit bombing Pakistan.”

The U.S. involvement with the NATO mission in Libya proved to be unpopular with several of the Republicans who took part in the recent debate, including Congresswoman Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.

“Our policy in Libya is substantially flawed," she said.  "And all we have to know is that the president deferred leadership in Libya to France. That is all we need to know.  The president was not leading when it came to Libya.”

Most of the Republican contenders focus on economic issues since jobs and the tepid economic recovery remain the main concerns of U.S. voters.

But some of the Republican White House contenders have made foreign policy a centerpiece of their campaign, including the former U.S. House speaker, Newt Gingrich.

“Ten years after 9-11 our intelligence is so inadequate that we have no idea what percent of the Libyan rebels is in fact al-Qaida,” he said.

Some Republicans are unhappy with the tone of the Republican presidential debate on the future of the U.S. commitment in Afghanistan.

Among them is South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham, who along with Senator John McCain is in a group of Republicans who insist that the U.S. and its allies must prevail in Afghanistan without regard to a timetable for troop withdrawals.

“I was disappointed that no one articulated why it matters if we win or lose in Afghanistan," he said. "So I haven’t heard one Republican running for president articulating the strategic importance of winning or losing in Afghanistan.”

Political analysts say the shift in emphasis in the Republican presidential debate on Afghanistan simply reflects the larger public weariness with the war there.

“On Afghanistan, obviously there is growing dissatisfaction with the progress and I’m talking even among Republicans who have been supportive generally," said analyst Stuart Rothenberg, who appeared on VOA’s ‘Encounter’ program.  "The bottom line, though, is once again it is all about results.  What is going to happen on the ground between now and the next election in Afghanistan, in Iraq?”

Another Republican contender with foreign policy experience will join the presidential race next week.  Former Utah governor Jon Huntsman will make his official announcement on Tuesday.  Until recently Huntsman served as President Obama’s ambassador to China and says he supports what he calls the desire of most Americans to begin phasing out of Afghanistan as quickly as possible.

You May Like

UN: 1 Million Somalis at Risk of Hunger

Group warns region is in dire need of humanitarian aid, with at least 200,000 children under age of five acutely malnourished as drought hits southern, central part of nation More

Human Rights Groups Allege Supression of Freedoms in Thailand

Thailand’s military, police have suppressed release of independent report assessing human rights in kingdom during first 100 days of latest coup More

Jennifer Lawrence Contacts FBI After Nude Photos Hacked

'Silver Linings Playbook' actress' photos were posted on image-sharing forum 4chan; Federal Bureau of Investigations is looking into matter More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forcesi
X
September 02, 2014 12:58 PM
A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Internet, Technology Offer New Tools for Journalists

The Internet and rapidly evolving technology is quickly changing how people receive news and how journalists deliver it. There are now more ways to tell a story than ever before. One school in Los Angeles is teaching the next generation of journalists with the help of a state-of-the-art newsroom. Elizabeth Lee has this report.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.

AppleAndroid