WASHINGTON Ã¢â‚¬â€œ An outspoken anti-war Democrat said ongoing US military efforts in Afghanistan could deeply imperil the presidency of Barack Obama and the fortunes of the Democratic Party.
Ã¢â‚¬Å“I think that this war, if it goes on and if it escalates, has the potential to destroy this presidency and to destroy the Democratic majorities in Congress," Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) told Raw Story in an interview.
The New York congressman, who has called the Afghanistan war a "fool's errand," said he has no qualms opposing Obama and Democratic leaders on this sensitive issue ahead of the midterm elections, despite the harsh climate for his party.
"When youÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re dealing with war and peace you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think of it in those terms," he said. "People are dying. The security of our country, the honor of our country, the lives of our men and women, the lives of foreign men and women Ã¢â‚¬â€œ are at stake. And thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s a lot more important, frankly, than partisan advantage."
For Nadler, his stance on Afghanistan hearkens back to when he disapproved of US efforts in Vietnam in the 1960s, which President Lyndon Johnson championed and escalated.
"I got into politics opposing a president of my party Ã¢â‚¬â€œ a president who was very good in most other respects Ã¢â‚¬â€œ over the Vietnam war," he said.
Military leaders say the US has national security interests in creating a stable central government in Afghanistan, by rooting out Taliban insurgents and ensuring the region doesn't become a save-haven for Al-Qaeda.
Obama, who has championed the mission and deployed 30,000 additional troops to the region this year, faces a tough political predicament. Recent events have enhanced negative perceptions of the war, but withdrawal may carry with it an admission of failure and lead to damaging criticism from Republicans.
A House vote on July 1 to approve war funding revealed growing Democratic divisions over the war. Three-fifths of Democrats backed an amendment demanding an exit strategy, which failed due to resolute Republican opposition.
While the president and most members of Congress deem a withdrawal timetable ill-advised, Nadler considers the shift in Democratic perception a positive step. "I think most of the Democratic Party is coming around," he said.
The Brooklyn native said that while he believes there are political incentives for ending the Afghanistan war, his opposition is based chiefly on harsh realities in the region that make victory unachievable at a reasonable cost, if at all.
"It ought to be stopped for all sorts of reasons, but those political reasons increase the case for stopping it," Nadler said.
RELATED -- From Raw Story's exclusive interview with Nadler:
Democrat: Steele is 'right that the Afghan war is unwinnable' (July 09, 2010)