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McCain, Lieberman and Graham Say They’re Obama’s Afghanistan Allies

It’s everything you’d expect an op-ed on a war written by Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) would be: a call for more troops; an attempt to settle old scores with minimal relevance; an emphasis on being more anti-anti-war than pro-war; and a rhetorical collapse of all policy distinctions between escalation and withdrawal. Even from three guys who have more relevance to cable TV bookers than to any political constituency, this would be unremarkable.

Except for one claim:

In the interim, the president and his allies—and** we count ourselves among them on this issue**—must invest significantly greater effort to explain why, as the president recently put it, Afghanistan is a “war of necessity. [Emphasis added.]

That sets up an interesting game of chicken. How much does President Obama want to leave his Afghanistan policy in the hands of, shall we say, unreliable self-proclaimed allies? McCain, Graham and Lieberman’s op-ed is better positioned to allow the senators to denounce Obama if he doesn’t acquiesce to a prospective second troop escalation this year than it is to prepare whatever constituencies they possess to reluctantly support such a decision. (“…this middle path—which the previous administration pursued for too long in Iraq—that is a recipe for quagmire and collapse of political support for the war at home.”) Is that the kind of ally that the administration wants in the face of large and growing political opposition to escalation?

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