"This was a war of Obama's choosing. This is not something the United States has actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in."
Strictly speaking, Republican Party Chair Michael Steele was way off base when he made this remark at a closed-door meeting of party contributors in Connecticut.
For the war began in 2001 under George W. Bush and was backed by almost all Americans, who collectively cheered the downfall of the Taliban and the rout of al-Qaida from its sanctuary in Afghanistan.
Yet, Steele was not entirely wrong.
Today, a majority of Americans do not believe the nine-year war in Afghanistan is any longer worth the rising cost in blood and money. And by declaring it a "war of necessity" and tripling U.S. forces there, this president has made it "Obama's war" every bit as much as LBJ in 1964 and 1965 made Vietnam "Johnson's War."
While Steele has spent every waking hour since his words hit the airwaves explaining, and declaring his commitment to victory, of far more interest is the alacrity with which neoconservatives piled on the chairman, demanding his resignation, while senators castigated him for remarks unacceptable for a Republican Party leader.
William Kristol's demand for Steele's resignation was echoed by Charles Krauthammer and Liz Cheney, daughter of the vice president. From Afghanistan, Steele was attacked by Sens. Lindsey Graham and John McCain, who suggested he think again about his capacity to lead the Republican National Committee.
Behind the swiftness and severity of the attacks on one of their own by Republican pundits and politicians are motives more serious and sinister than exasperation at another gaffe by Michael Steele.
The War Party is conducting this pre-emptive strike on Steele to send a message to dissenters. In Krauthammer's phrase, it is now a "capital offense" for a Republican leader not to support the Obama troop surge and the Obama-Petraeus policy.
Yet, a majority of Americans oppose the Afghan war. And the point made by Steele about the futility of fighting in Afghanistan has been made by columnists George Will and Tony Blankley, ex-Rep. Joe Scarborough, Ron Paul, and antiwar conservatives and moderates.
When exactly did supporting Obama's war policy become a litmus test for loyal Republicans?
What the War Party is up to here is a naked attempt to impose its orthodoxy, about the threat of "Islamofascism" and the Long War, on the entire GOP, 28 months before a presidential election.
Republicans of all persuasions should recoil at such arrogance.
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