Who among us does not enjoy a good schism? Matt Lewis of Politics Daily contemplates an emerging conservative schism on Afghanistan:
Ann Coulter's recent column "Bill Kristol Must Resign" may have officially kicked off the next great schism within the conservative movement. At issue is the war in Afghanistan -- and, more specifically, whether Republicans should support President Obama's approach to a conflict that has now lasted for Americans far longer than World War II.
Dan Riehl notes some pre-tremors:
The debate began long before Coulter chimed in. I snarked that Kristol should resign minutes after seeing his piece. Erick at Redstate promptly echoed Kristol in his call for Steele's resignation. Melissa Clouthier, Cubachi, and many others figured prominently in the debate.
Matt's an excellent young conservative journalist. I'm a fan and mean no disrespect. But it would be nice to see some of our younger talents not fall into the trap of thinking it takes a Coulter, or a Kristol to make something news. I say that, especially, as Matt is one of us out here.
Doug Mataconis of Outside the Beltway takes far too simple a view here:
If George W. Bush, or John McCain, were in the White House today, I don’t doubt that our Afghanistan policy would be largely the same as it is today, and I have to wonder if people like Coulter would be as vocal in their criticism of the policy.
Really? First, Bush spent seven years not escalating in Afghanistan. One might attribute that to the effort in Iraq, but one reason that Bush chose to fight in Iraq was that Afghanistan was such a dreadful theatre of operations. Another reason, noted by Tom Friedman - transform Iraq and you transform an important Arab country in the heart of the Arab world; transform Afghanistan and you transform a permanent backwater (and maybe South Waziristan!).
It is entirely possible that Bush would have gone with something like the Biden-lite strategy; more accurately, the Biden strategy looks like a continuation of what Bush had been doing for years.
Secondly, whatever Bush did in his hypothetical third term, he would have done it with a track record. Just as Nixon, a famous Communist-basher, could go to China, Bush would be uniquely positioned to declare that enough is enough in Afghanistan. Or, if Bush had announced that, however grim the outlook or the polls, he was going to press ahead to victory in Afghanistan, people would believe it. No one believes that of Obama. Plenty of progressives are wondering what happened to that nice lefty they voted for, and are wondering when his inner dove will fly forth. Believe me, plenty of righties are wondering the same thing.
My official editorial position is that if we had Lincoln in the White House, the Afghani equivalent of George Washington in Kabul, and Generals Marshall and Eisenhower peering at maps of Kandahar, we might still lose in Afghanistan. Gen. Petraeus is a great general and a great American, but he is not partnered with Lincoln and Washington.
Conversely, we might be lucky enough to win even without a President committed to victory, but I don't think it is worth the chance. It's too late now, but it would have been better if Obama had never escalated the war.