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Ann Coulter Anti-War ?

Ann Coulter has, somewhat surprisingly, has come to the defense of RNC Chairman Michael Steele in the controversy that has erupted on the right over his comments about Afghanistan:

Republicans used to think seriously about deploying the military. President Eisenhower sent aid to South Vietnam, but said he could not “conceive of a greater tragedy” for America than getting heavily involved there.

As Michael Steele correctly noted, every great power that’s tried to stage an all-out war in Afghanistan has gotten its ass handed to it. Everyone knows it’s not worth the trouble and resources to take a nation of rocks and brigands.

Based on Obama’s rules of engagement for our troops in Afghanistan, we’re apparently not even fighting a war. The greatest fighting force in the world is building vocational schools and distributing cheese crackers to children.

There’s even talk of giving soldiers medals for NOT shooting people, which I gather will be awarded posthumously. Naomi Campbell is rougher with her assistants than our troops are allowed to be with Taliban fighters.

But now I hear it is the official policy of the Republican Party to be for all wars, irrespective of our national interest.

What if Obama decides to invade England because he’s still ticked off about that Churchill bust? Can Michael Steele and I object to that? Or would that demoralize the troops?

Our troops are the most magnificent in the world, but they’re not the ones setting military policy. The president is — and he’s basing his war strategy on the chants of Moveon.org cretins.

Nonetheless, Bill Kristol and Liz Cheney have demanded that Steele resign as head of the RNC for saying Afghanistan is now Obama’s war — and a badly thought-out one at that. (Didn’t liberals warn us that neoconservatives want permanent war?)

I thought the irreducible requirements of Republicanism were being for life, small government and a strong national defense, but I guess permanent war is on the platter now, too.

Coulter wouldn’t be the first conservative to express doubts about the Afghan War, of course.  George Will and Joe Scarborough are just two names among the many prominent people on the right who have started to express doubts about what is now America’s longest war, and Matt Lewis wonders if this is the beginning of a conservative schism:

Until now, there has been somewhat of an unspoken rule, adhered to by most on the right, that conservative Republicans would vigorously oppose President Obama’s liberal domestic policies while supporting his efforts to win in Afghanistan. After all, Republicans had staunchly backed George W. Bush when he made the case for fighting al-Qaeda in Afghanistan. Changing course now would seem craven — playing politics with national security. And so, in foreign policy, Obama was criticized from the right only when he appeared to be showing weakness, not when he displayed toughness.

But recent comments from Steele have sparked a debate that was probably long overdue. Notwithstanding the fact that Steele almost immediately backtracked, some conservatives began defending the substance of Steele’s comments. “Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele was absolutely right,” Coulter wrote. “Afghanistan is Obama’s war and, judging by other recent Democratic ventures in military affairs, isn’t likely to turn out well.”

(…)

One of the ideas advanced by Coulter is that Bush wisely kept a relatively small footprint in Afghanistan, while choosing instead to invade Iraq — terrain more hospitable for a traditional ground war. There is some revisionism at work here, and it must be said that prominent voices, like Liz Cheney’s (not to mention Gen. David Petraeus’), were raised in support of the surge in Afghanistan. Still, it’s fair to broach the question raised by Michael Steele and Ann Coulter: Would George W. Bush be doing anything differently today in terms of Afghanistan?

Or is Coulter’s position a less high-minded one: After a decade of defending Bush’s actions, and getting beat up for it, are Republicans now saying it’s time for a Democratic president to get the Bush treatment?

Coulter being Coulter, I have to believe that there is more of the second motivation than the first behind her recent, and somewhat surprising, conversion to Afghan War skepticism, and that we wouldn’t be hearing stuff like this from her if there was a Republican in the White House.

As for Lewis’s other question, it’s worth noting that, two years ago, both Barack Obama and John McCain were calling for a “surge” in Afghanistan, and that the current policy in Afghanistan is essentially the application of the Counter-Intelligence theories behind the Iraqi surge to Afghanistan. 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.

So, is Ann Coulter now a principled anti-war conservative, or a political opportunist ?

I’ll let you decide.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. dissident says:

    The initial calls of Steele resignation were just a gut reaction to use anything to knock Steele off his feet. Ann is actually making a thoughtful, nuanced position here.

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  2. john personna says:

    There being a Democrat in the Whitehouse, Coulter is free to say some true things she would not say otherwise:

    “but I guess permanent war is on the platter now, too.”

    At the time of the 2004 election I’d ask Bush-voting friends how they felt about a culture of permanent war. They’d tend to lift their chins, and say “so?” I guess now, without “their man” on the line, they can think more about it.

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  3. anjin-san says:

    Coulter struggles to stay relevant. The fact that she is hitching her star to Steele’s wagon shows that it is probably a lost cause.

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  4. Coulter doesn’t seem so much against the war as in favor of turning it into genocide.

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  5. Tano says:

    She is being completely consistent, and is near the forefront of the conservative movement on this issue. The principle is simple – if Obama is for something, the right must be against it. That is all you need to know in order to predict where the right will land.

    Of course, when Obama’s position is similar to long-held Republican positions, there may necessarily be a bit of a lag as the Republicans find a way to shift positions without seeming to do so. Steele and Coulter are doing the necessary scout work in laying down the markers for the eventual Republican stand against “Obama’s War”. Look for its full fruition in 2012.

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  6. An Interested Party says:

    “Is Ann Coulter’s defense of Michael Steele’s Afghan War skepticism…just an attempt to pile on President Obama ?”

    Is water wet…

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  7. Zelsdorf Ragshaft III says:

    I am amazed. If Bush were in office there would be nothing but howls from most of those who comment here about how wrong headed the policy in Afghanistan is. Notice how long it took Obama to send the troops his commander on the ground asked for. Notice how he has stated a date when our troops will leave. Was that not a gift for the Taliban? I do not know how Bush planned to conduct this conflict, but judging from his sucess in Iraq I would bet differently from Obama. Possibly with a plan to win. Problem is you cannot build a state where none exists. Afghanistan is a tribal society never having a strong central government. The last Communist power that tried, lost. What makes the communist we have for President think any different? Anjin, you wouldn’t make a pimple on Ann Coulters rather nice behind. Yes you would.

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  8. Tom Maguire says:

    “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.”

    First, I am not so sure – just as Nixon could go to China, Bush would be uniquely positioned to pull the plug in Afghanistan (What, someone is going to question his stomach for a fight?) McCain would be well-positioned also.

    Secondly, it is not just the policy, it is the person leading it.

    If George Bush were in the White House, Ann Coulter and plenty of other conservatives would have high confidence that Bush would stay the course in Afghanistan even if the situation was bad and the polls were worse.

    Believe it or not, Ms. Coulter lacks similar confidence in Obama’s steadfastness.

    I am sure there are progressives who are shocked to see such a martial Obama and are wondering when his inner dove will emerge. Plenty of conservatives fell the same way about him.

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  9. Tano says:

    “just as Nixon could go to China, Bush would be uniquely positioned to pull the plug in Afghanistan ”

    “If George Bush were in the White House, Ann Coulter and plenty of other conservatives would have high confidence that Bush would stay the course in Afghanistan”

    Huh? Which is it? Would he pull the plug or stay the course? Or is this just another example of the principle – argue whatever position happens to come to mind, so long as it has an anti-Obama theme? Coherence is not necessary.

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  10. [...] Ann Coulter Anti-War ? (outsidethebeltway.com) [...]

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  11. giantslor says:

    “The initial calls of Steele resignation were just a gut reaction to use anything to knock Steele off his feet.”

    Yes, but then conservatives realized it’s much more important to use anything to knock Obama off his feet.

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  12. Tom Maguire says:

    “Coherence is not necessary.”

    I view it as optional. As to what Bush would do, how the heck would I know? My point is, whether he withdrew, escalated, or stood pat (Biden’s proposed strategy looks a lot like what Bush had been doing for seven years), he would do it with conviction and without any need to posture to the generals or the public in order to establish his credibility and toughness on national security.

    Is there something about Obama’s background that gives him comparable credibility on military matters (Such as his statements in early 2007 that the surge in Iraq could not succeed and would lead to increased violence?)? Or is it plausible to doubt whether he will press ahead withthis escalation strategy through even if it falters?

    I think Obama is highly likely to quit if the going gets tough. I also think it is highly likely that the going will get tough. Consequently, I have no real interest in following his lead into a war he is not committed to winning.

    Just to be murkier, I am not sure we can “win” in Afghanistan even if we are committed to victory. If (IF!) Bush had changed his strategy of seven years and tripled our force level there, I would have had serious reservations about the approach. But I would at least have some confidence that he wouldn’t just piss around for two years, look at some bad poll numbers, and call it off.

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  13. steve says:

    Doug- In all seriousness, please do not post anything having to do with Coulter. She is well beneath the intelligence and seriousness of those who post here.

    Steve

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  14. Tano says:

    “Coherence is not necessary.” – “I view it as optional”

    Thats pretty clear.

    :”,..he would do it with conviction and without any need to posture to the generals or the public”

    It is only your own derangement which allows you to believe that Obama is committing the country, and defining a legacy for himself, around a position that he does not believe in.

    And you think it is Obama, rather than Bush, who is guilty of “posturing” on issues of war????? Helloooo……

    “Is there something about Obama’s background that gives him comparable credibility on military matters ”

    Comparable to…..who exactly?

    “Or is it plausible to doubt whether he will press ahead with this escalation strategy through even if it falters?”

    Sure it is plausible. Obama is a rational man. If the strategy fails, then we should all hope that he is at least open to changing the strategy. Why would you hope for anything else?

    “I think Obama is highly likely to quit if the going gets tough.”

    All this is, is a statement of your prejudiced view of Obama. There is no basis in fact for this in anything he has done as president so far – either in matters of war or on the domestic front.

    “I am not sure we can “win” in Afghanistan even if we are committed to victory.”

    And yet you would vociferously criticize a president who came to the same conclusion and decided it was not worth spending American lives in a no-win situation?

    “If (IF!) Bush had changed his strategy …I would at least have some confidence that he wouldn’t just piss around for two years, look at some bad poll numbers, and call it off.”

    And from where comes such confidence? Given that he pissed around for seven years, with tens of thousands of troops there, taking hundreds of casualties, but doing nothing to inhibit the Taliban from reconstituting itself, and certainly doing nothing whatsoever to “win”.

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  15. DavidL says:

    Barack Obama meet Lyndon Johnson. Johnson did not start our invilvement in Vietnam. Obama did not start our involvement in Afghanistan. Yet both own their respective wars. Vietaam was lost by Johnson dual unwillingness to either quit or fight to win. Obama is now on his second hand picked general in the war he declared both important to fight, unlike Dim Won’s rhetoric on Iran, but is now unwillinging to win,

    The sad fact is that Obama is a moron who only knows how to give campaign speeches, just mere words.

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  16. Tom Maguire says:

    “And yet you would vociferously criticize a president who came to the same conclusion and decided it was not worth spending American lives in a no-win situation?”

    I did? Or is that your own imagining?

    “It is only your own derangement which allows you to believe that Obama is committing the country, and defining a legacy for himself, around a position that he does not believe in.”

    Well, that would be my derangement plus, among other things, the memory of the roster of Democratic Senators who voted for the Iraq war in 2002 in order to preserve their Presidential prospects. That would include Kerry, Edwards, and Ms. Clinton, as I am sure you recall.

    In my world, politicians, especially Democrats, have a history of posturing on national security. In yours?

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