Have I mentioned lately how much I love Senator DeMint?
Senator Jim DeMint writes to Obama requesting hearings on Afghanistan(pdf here — h/t Sister Toldjah):
Dear Senator Obama,
In the coming days, I understand you will travel to Afghanistan for the first time and visit with a few of our European partners. Like my travels to these regions, I trust this trip will afford you a unique opportunity to see the facts on the ground firsthand and witness the work of our brave men and women who sacrifice so much to secure our freedom.
In February, I had the privilege of visiting and talking with our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. These brave Americans serve their country with incredible passion, pride and courage. As you know, NATOs International Security and Assistance Force (ISAF) plays an integral part in the current operations and reconstruction of Afghanistan.
There are concerns about the imbalance between some European nations, their level of commitment to the fight in Afghanistan, and caveats these nations place on their forces in theater. I trust you will become well acquainted with these issues. The Bush Administration has worked hard to maintain and increase the level of forces our European allies have committed to the fight.
However, despite these successes, I am concerned our Subcommittee has not held any hearings on these issues over the last two years. With oversight of NATO relations and its role in Afghanistan, I believe it is time for us to focus closely on these issues. As Ranking Member of your Subcommittee on European Affairs, I would welcome a chance to hold a hearing on NATOs mission in Afghanistan upon your return.
The success of Afghanistan is critical to the future of NATO and vital to our efforts to defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban. As the situation in Afghanistan grows more tense, it is time for us to hold a hearing on the mission there. I look forward to working with you to schedule this hearing.
While it’s nice to see that Senator Obama recognizes the importance of sending more troops in to stabilize Afghanistan, it’s also fair to point out that he hasn’t exactly made Afghanistan a top priority until now. Senator DeMint draws attention to this without being nasty about it, and the indirect reply to DeMint’s letter is that his letter was “politically motivated“. If DeMint is on McCain’s VP shortlist, that’s news to all of us. (I wish that this was true, but it’s probably not.) He raises a legitimate question and Obama should give a straight answer to it. I can buy the argument that Obama’s subcommittee might not be the most appropriate venue for Afghanistan hearings, but why not just say that, instead of taking a shot at DeMint?
Senator Joe Biden attempts to rescue Obama by pointing that out, and he is unsuccessful. As Sister Toldjah points out in her post, Senator Biden’s defense of Obama falls flat because Biden himself had previously criticized Obama for not holding hearings on Afghanistan. Oops.
Biden does deserve some credit here — he has been consistent in requesting a “surge” of troops for Afghanistan. That’s one thing that the press release quoted by Politico brings into sharp focus. I’m surprised that Joe Biden hasn’t brought this up very often. Why are Barack Obama and the rest of the Democrats so convinced that adding additional military personnel in Afghanistan would achieve the desired objective? After all, they aren’t even sure that that the Bush-Petraeus-McCain strategy of sending additional troops worked in Iraq. Afghanistan is far less stable than Iraq. Might they want to focus more on the all-important political objectives before sending in the brute force? It’s a puzzler.