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

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

Physically and culturally close to Western Europe, Lviv feels solidarity with compatriots in country’s east but says they need to decide own future More

West African Women Disproportionately Affected by Ebola

Women's roles in families and the community put them at greater risk for contracting the disease, officials say More

Video NASA's MAVEN Spacecraft Arrives at Mars

Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution craft will measure rates at which gases escape Martian atmosphere into space 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.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid