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MJ: "bat-shit crazy arch-conservative" surfer-congressman against Obama's surge

In the ‘80s he took up arms with Afghanistan’s mujahideen. Now the arch-conservative California congressman is fighting against Obama’s surge.



“…Rohrabacher grins when recalling the overthrow of the Taliban. “Everything was ours,” he says. “We had the total faith of the vast majority of Afghans.” But, he adds, it all went sour when the administration decided to shift gears. “The turning point was when George W. Bush through his hubris decided he was going to—I can just see him saying, ’We’re on a roll, let’s go into Iraq.’ We didn’t have the ability to sustain large-scale military operations in Iraq and still rebuild Afghanistan.” Still, Rohrabacher was a steadfast backer of the war during the Bush years, a stance he now considers “a mistake.”

Today, Rohrabacher vows to vote against any funding for Obama’s surge in Afghanistan. Instead he favors, perhaps unsurprisingly, a revival of the Reagan Doctrine. He regards the Karzai government as hopelessly corrupt and sees a decentralized power structure as the only solution. Rather than putting more American troops in harm’s way, he’d prefer that the US reinvigorate and perhaps arm Afghanistan’s militias (including those associated with his ex-Northern Alliance friends)—the same forces the US and international forces initially tried to dismantle. And instead of spending some $33 billion on the surge, Rohrabacher wants to allocate $5 billion for “buying the good will of local village leaders” while also embedding small US units in villages. “We have to have our people become part of the Afghan family,” he says. Rohrabacher has distributed a blueprint—authored by a Special Forces major whose unit developed a close rapport with an eastern tribe—for doing just that to all of his colleagues.

As the Obama administration formulated its war strategy last fall, Rohrabacher made his case to top officials, even the president himself—to little avail. (Only Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, who in diplomatic cables expressed doubts about the surge, concurred with him over glasses of Uzbek brandy during a dinner party at his house, Rohrabacher says.) Still, some of DC’s top Afghanistan experts think Rohrabacher’s ideas have merit: His argument for a decentralized approach “deserves serious consideration,” Paul Pillar, former national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia, told me. “I would underscore that it is a totally different approach from what the administration has adopted.”

by teru kuwayama at 2010-04-07 06:21:58 UTC | Bookmark | | Report spam→

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teru kuwayama, I/O teru kuwayama
New York , United States


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