Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos
On Thursday, President Joe Biden addressed the nation after an explosion outside of Hamid Karzai International Airport took the lives of 13 American service members. In that speech, Biden sent condolences to the families of those lost, promised to track down the terrorists behind the attack, reaffirmed his commitment to carry on with the evacuation in Afghanistan, praised the sacrifice and dedication of the all-volunteer military, took full responsibility for his decisions, and doubled-down on bringing the 20-year conflict to a close.
In response, Republicans made it clear that they have a strategy of their own. That strategy won't get one more person out of Afghanistan. It won't save the lives of a single service member. It's not concerned with finding the ISIS-K terrorists behind the explosion. It isn't concerned with taking any responsibility. It most certainly doesn't want the war to end. Nope. The Republican plan for Afghanistan is blindingly simple: With the help of the media, use it to damage Joe Biden.
As CNN reports, the only thing bothering Republicans about Afghanistan is a divide over just how they can leverage the death of American service members as political fodder.
In 1982, President Ronald Reagan sent 800 U.S. Marines into Lebanon to help push leftist Palestinians out of the country and protect gains made by the Christian Phalange militia in a long-running civil war. Afterward, a Marine was killed by a bomb, snipers killed several more Marines, 63 people were killed when a suicide driver cruised an explosive-laden van into the U.S. embassy, and 241 service members were killed when another terrorist drove a sophisticated truck bomb into the central Marine barracks. It was the most significant single-day number of American Marines lost since the Battle of Iwo Jima.
Post-bombing reports showed that the Marines had not been allowed to maintain a secure perimeter for pollical reasons. Still, Reagan went in front of the nation and vowed that the Marines would stay until the mission was complete. Except they didn't. After four months of no progress, Reagan pulled the Marines out. The identities of the terrorists who drove a van into the U.S. embassy and the terrorists who drove a truck into the Marine barracks were never established. It was never clear where they came from or what group they supported.
Following this, Reagan was reelected by a record margin in November 1984. But that, of course, was a different time. Also, Reagan managed to squeeze a whole second war into the time between pulling out the Marines and Election Day. And in that second little war—which even Margaret Thatcher thought was ridiculous—only 20 Marines got killed. Reagan ran on these examples of his willingness to expend American lives.
Currently, there's a civil war in the Republican Party between those who want to impeach Joe Biden (or call on him to resign right now ) and those who are willing to wait until Republicans gain an expected House majority in the 2022 election.
Few things could illustrate the total lack of concern that Republicans hold for the actual situation in Afghanistan better than a press briefing McCarthy held on Friday morning. As NBC News reporter Jake Sherman reported, McCarthy didn't bother with checking to see if he had a coherent statement concerning what was actually happening. Instead, the Republican leader called for every troop to come out of Afghanistan while simultaneously insisting that Bagram Airbase be reoccupied. Then he said that America should keep some troops in Afghanistan, but we shouldn't be negotiating with the Taliban. And when it was pointed out that Trump negotiated with the Taliban, McCarthy just moved on to debate the best time to impeach Biden. McCarthy doesn't have a position on that, either, because McCarthy's position is never more than what the crowd is calling for at that exact second.
When it comes to developing an actual proposal on what to do in Afghanistan, Republicans have one clear position: Why?
Why should they? Why bother when, as Huff Post pointed out on Thursday, Republicans can simultaneously make calls for actions that would require Biden to reinvade the entire country, and at the same time, criticize him for not getting every single person out of the nation without a scratch. The media won't challenge the lack of reason or consistency. Why do anything more? As long as Republicans can see that networks will gladly put them on the air and echo their statements about "chaos" and "failure," having an actual strategy on Afghanistan would only be a liability.
That frees Republicans to concentrate on the one thing that genuinely concerns them: 2022. Untethered from either the necessity of governing or the need to have a coherent platform, Republicans can be all-attack all the time. That allows statements like this from Republican Rep. Mark Green, "I'd put more military in there, I'd get every single American out, and I'd start killing bad guys." Or Sen. Ben Sasse writing a note in which he declares that America needs to "reverse course" and occupy most of Afghanistan because ending the war shows "weakness."
None of it makes sense. It doesn't have to make sense. Because Republicans don't consider their enemy to be either the Taliban or ISIS-K, they don't consider their goal to be getting Americans out safely. They certainly aren't interested in ending the war.
They're only interested in evacuating Democrats from the House, Senate, and White House. And in that scheme, they seem to have plenty of allies.