Thompson: Afghanistan war ‘already lost’
Fred Thompson, the actor and former Republican Senator, told listeners of his radio show Thursday that the war in Afghanistan is “already lost,” and put the blame on President Barack Obama’s delays in making a decision on a troop surge for the war effort.
Thompson’s salvo “seem[s] to lay the groundwork for Republican opposition to further American engagement in Afghanistan,” suggests Ben Smith at Politico, but the former presidential candidate’s words have roiled some critics, who note that, during the Bush administration, Thompson was a fierce opponent of those who painted the war effort negatively.
“It’s becoming increasingly apparent with every passing day that it really doesn’t matter how President Obama divides the Afghan baby, how he splits the difference between [Gen. Stanley] McChrystal and [Vice President Joe] Biden, because the war in Afghanistan has been lost,” Thompson said on his radio show, The Fred Thompson Show. “It didn’t have to be that way, it doesn’t have to be that way, but that’s the way it is.”
Thompson took up a now-familiar theme among critics of the Obama administration’s foreign policy, attacking the White House for taking its time with a decision on a troop increase for the war effort.
“This delay will not in and of itself do irreparable harm to the war effort — it’s much worse than that,” Thompson said. “This delay is evidence that the war is already lost. So take your time on the new troop numbers, Mister President. Unless you have total change of heart and mind on this, it really doesn’t make any difference.”
But one of Thompson’s points in his polemic — that “our enemies are emboldened” and “our friends are discouraged” because of Obama’s delay — has critics accusing the former Republican presidential contender of hypocrisy.
Thompson until recently considered criticism of the war effort to be detrimental because it emboldens the US’s enemies. As Matt Corley pointed out at ThinkProgress, Thompson fiercely criticized Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in 2007 when Reid declared outgoing Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Peter Pace to be “incompetent.”
“The problem is that every one of Reid’s comments I’ve noted here has also been reported gleefully by Al Jazeera and other anti-American media,” Thompson said at the time. “Whether he means to or not, he’s encouraging our enemies to believe that they are winning the critical war of will.”
“According to Thompson’s own logic, his declaration of defeat today — “whether he means to or not” — is “encouraging our enemies to believe that they are winning the critical war of will,” Corley writes.
The following audio was broadcast on The Fred Thompson Show, Thursday November 19, 2009, and uploaded to the Web by Politico.com.