Senior Armed Services Dem Rebukes Obama Administration, Shea-Porter Still Silent
Washington- Rep. Ike Skelton (D-MO), a senior House Democrat and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, signaled this weekend that he backs the strategy for victory in Afghanistan laid out by the Obama administration in March. Now would be the perfect time for fellow Armed Services member Carol Shea-Porter to announce her support for Chairman Skelton’s calls for President Obama to finish the job in Afghanistan as the administration attempts to walk back a strategy laid out just months ago:
“President Obama is exploring alternatives to a major troop increase in Afghanistan, including a plan advocated by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to scale back American forces and focus more on rooting out Al Qaeda there and in Pakistan, officials said Tuesday… Aides said the president wanted to examine whether the strategy he unveiled in March was still the best approach and whether it could work with the extra combat forces General McChrystal wants.” (Peter Baker and Elizabeth Bumiller, “Obama Considers Strategy Shift in Afghan War,” New York Times, 9/22/09)
As the President and liberal leaders in Congress continue to back away from their commitment overseas, the commanding General on the ground has warned of dire consequences:
“The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan warns in an urgent, confidential assessment of the war that he needs more forces within the next year and bluntly states that without them, the eight-year conflict ‘will likely result in failure,’ according to a copy of the 66-page document obtained by The Washington Post.
“Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal says emphatically: ‘Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near-term (next 12 months) -- while Afghan security capacity matures -- risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible.’” (Bob Woodward, “More Forces or ‘Mission Failure,’” Washington Post, 9/21/09)
Sadly, Shea-Porter has remained silent even as Chairman Skelton indicates his expectation that Congress would support General McChrystal:
SCHEIFFER: Let me go to your counterpart in the House, Congressman Skelton. It’s my understanding you believe we ought to send those troops and get them out there right now, American troops.
SKELTON: I think we have to look at it from day one. The war really didn’t start until March of this year when the President came forth with a strategy – frankly an excellent strategy. He chose General McChrystal, who is the best in the business for this type of conflict. He asked General McChrystal for an assessment. He got that assessment. Of course that became known…it was public. And in essence he’s going to be asking for additional resources.
SCHEIFFER: So you’re going to back him up.
SKELTON: I back him up.
SKELTON: I think the House would support a gentleman, General McChrystal, that is running the show. There’s no question. (CBS’s Face the Nation, 10/4/09)
“Carol Shea-Porter has the opportunity to stand behind Chairman Skelton and General McChrystal but she seems more content to remain silent as the White House appears to be hedging on their own strategy that they laid out in March,” said NRCC Communications Director Ken Spain. “Carol Shea-Porter should take a stand on this critical matter and add her name to the growing list of folks calling on the administration to allow General McChrystal to spell out his strategy before Congress.”
Now is the time for Carol Shea-Porter to speak up, but will she take a stand or will she continue to let her Washington leaders walk back their own plan for victory in Afghanistan?