Obama on Afghanistan

The big story of the day is Barack Obama’s renewed call for refocusing on Afghanistan during a speech he made today in Washington, DC.  He called for a “surge” of sorts in troops for Afghanistan, while reminding everyone of how he opposed the Iraq war and believes it should end.

The problem is that Senator Obama only became concerned enough to call for a different strategy in Afghanistan only after he started running for president.  At roughly the same time he announced his candidacy for president, he was also named Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on European Affairs, which has jurisdiction over NATO.  You’d think as “concerned” as he was about Afghanistan that he would have had at least one policy and/or oversight hearing related to those “concerns.”  Unfortunately for him, liberals like Joe Conason first reported about the fact that the committee “languishing” under Senator Obama’s leadership, while not holding any oversight hearings on anything, let alone Afghanistan.   Senator Hillary Clinton pointed out Obama’s failure to lead this subcommittee in a least one debate earlier this year.  

Politifact noted that Clinton’s claim was true:

Congressional records show, and spokesmen for several subcommittee members confirm, the subcommittee has not held any policy hearings since Obama was appointed chair in early 2007. The subcommittee’s jurisdiction includes “all matters, policies and problems concerning the continent of Europe, including the European member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.”

Obama himself admitted it was true at that same debate:

Well, first of all, I became chairman of this committee at the beginning of this campaign, at the beginning of 2007. So it is true that we haven’t had oversight hearings on Afghanistan.

On a McCain conference call earlier today, here’s what Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on European Affairs said about Obama’s “leadership” on Afghanistan:

“There’s been a lot of talk about leadership in Congress and in the presidential election, and I think one good indication of real leadership is what we’ve actually done with the responsibility and authority that we have. And here in Congress, we have the opportunity to use hearings, to provide oversight, develop policies and also bring a lot of issues to the public light that might not come out of the Administration. 

“Barack Obama and I are leaders of the European Subcommittee of the Foreign Relations Committee. He’s the chairman and he has the ability to have as many hearings with his choice of witnesses that he would like.

 “I wrote the letter to Barack because of my concerns about Afghanistan and the fact that Afghanistan is a NATO operation, which comes under the purview of the European Subcommittee that he chairs. My trip to Afghanistan and a number of briefings here suggest some serious concerns. I believe as we’ve made progress in Iraq we’ve seen deterioration in Afghanistan. I know that McCain when he saw the problems in Iraq was able to come up with a strategy which was used by the President which has worked and I believe what McCain has put forth here for Afghanistan suggests the same type of understanding.

 “My concern is not just with Barack but the committee itself and not having any hearings on Afghanistan over the last year and a half on our subcommittee — we have missed a lot opportunities to take more responsibility and to bring to public light the problems. I think most Americans would be surprised and concerned to learn of the deterioration there militarily, the increase in poppy crop and the things that have happened and the potential problems if NATO does not keep its commitment.

 “So I’m calling on Senator Obama to work with me to have hearings, to help bring to light the issues in Afghanistan, to put pressure on the Administration and others to act decisively there before the situation deteriorates more.”

Here’s a .pdf copy of the letter DeMint sent to Obama.

Not only has the subcommittee languished under the leadership of Obama, but the Senator has never taken it upon himself to visit the country he claims we need to refocus our attentions on.

So while the left tries to score points by asserting that McCain has “flip-flopped” on his Afghanistan plan and is calling for a surge in troops there in an attempt to copy Obama, remember that the real story is Obama’s phoney “concern” about the situation in Afghanistan, and how he’s been very good at preaching about what he wants to do as president and CIC about the situation in Afghanistan, but very negligent when it has come to actually utilizing the tools he already had as his disposal to make “change” in one of the many parts of the world he claims to believe needs it the most.

Update/Related: Jim Geraghty’s done some digging and concludes that Obama has spent half of the last decade running for higher office (via McQ).

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