Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA), who has earned a reputation as a hawkish Democrat, has indicated that she is aligning with House liberals against sending more troops to Afghanistan. In the past, Harman had indicated support for increasing troops, stipulating that the surge should be tied to progress against corruption in Afghanistan. According to The Swamp, Harman is now less inclined to pour more U.S. troops into the conflict:
Harman, a longtime Intelligence Committee member, told a Brookings Institution gathering today that any further increases “wouldn’t be well received” on Capitol Hill.
Harman’s view is that the Obama administration should deal with government corruption, and build up Afghan forces, before Congress is asked to pay for more U.S. troops. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the U,S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan, has asked for 40,000 additional troops.
Earlier this year, Harman spoke at the inaugural conference of the neoconservative Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI), Bill Kristol’s reincarnation of the Project for a New American Century. FPI has been advocating fiercely in favor of a surge in Afghanistan. Reporting from the FPI conference at the time, The Wonk Room’s Matt Duss wrote:
To her credit, Harman acknowledged the negative effect of the Iraq war on the Afghanistan mission, stating that “we have under-resourced Afghanistan for too long, we took our eye off the ball when we went into Iraq. All of our resources were devoted to that effort.” Harman also said that the Obama administration must do a better job describing metrics for progress Afghanistan, and that the Congress has an important role to play in holding the administration accountable for whether benchmarks are being met.
She concluded at the time that the President was “on the right track,” and that “we have to hold this administration accountable for its plan in Afghanistan.” It appears Harman is now more concerned about the track Obama is pursuing.
Yglesias adds, “Combined with David Obey’s views I hope this is a sign that members of Congress are going to start seriously looking at questions of cost and overall impact on the national interest.”