The Foreign Policy Initiative (aka “PNAC 2.0”), an organization which is headed by neoconservatives Bill Kristol, Robert Kagan, and Dan Senor, is holding a conference today and tomorrow on “Advancing & Defending Democracy.” FPI arose after its previous incarnation — the Project for a New American Century — suffered a massive blow to its credibility by staking its reputation on advocating for the “one of the worst foreign policy blunders in American history” — the Iraq war.
Kristol, Kagan, and Senor are now enthusiastically dedicating their efforts to building support for a U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan, calling such a strategy “politically smart for Republicans.” Kagan said recently that withdrawing from Afghanistan would be to “commit preemptive suicide.”
President Obama is thus far resisting the calls to rush more troops into Afghanistan. “I don’t want to put the resource question before the strategy question,” he said on CNN yesterday. “Because there is a natural inclination to say, if I get more, then I can do more. But right now, the question is, the first question is, are we doing the right thing? Are we pursuing the right strategy?” In a letter to Obama earlier this month, FPI made clear that the only “strategy” it’s interested in is escalation:
Since the announcement of your administration’s new strategy, we have been troubled by calls for a drawdown of American forces in Afghanistan and a growing sense of defeatism about the war. … There is no middle course. Incrementally committing fewer troops than required would be a grave mistake and may well lead to American defeat. We will not support half-measures that repeat the errors of the past.
Of course, no one knows more about repeating “errors of the past” than Bill Kristol. At its conference this week, FPI has two separate panels on Afghanistan. The right-wing organization is not hosting a single Democratic elected official (though Rep. Jane Harman did participate in its last event on Afghanistan in March). Instead, the conference is marked by the presence of right-wing luminaries, such as Sen. Jon Kyl, former Gov. Mitt Romney, Elliott Abrams, and Newt Gingrich. Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt is moderating a panel, while Michael O’Hanlon and Ken Pollack from the Brookings Institution are also participating. Finally, the conference will fittingly wrap up tomorrow with “A Conversation with John McCain.”
Matt Yglesias writes that the Obama administration needs to “reject the kind of discredited neocon logic that says the only way to deal with the problem of the moment is with maximum force.” He adds, “the situation in Afghanistan has gotten as bad as it has in large part precisely as a result of the last administration listening to the counsel of people like McCain.”
Reporting from the conference, The Wonk Room’s Matt Duss writes that the participants of the opening panel were “in favor of more everything in Afghanistan.”