Keep America Safe, a Bill Kristol and Elizabeth Cheney-led organization, added its voice to the list of critics of the Obama administration’s troop drawdown timeline in Afghanistan. Their new ad, which only appeared on YouTube — the Weekly Standard says it will air in Washington, DC later today — repeats the factually baseless claim that “President Obama ignor[ed] his generals’ advice.” The ad quotes Iraq surge architect ret. Gen. Jack Keane saying Obama is “asking our troops to do more with less. [...] And what does that mean? That actually means more casualties.” Watch the ad:
But the ad’s arguments fall flat when examined more closely.
If casualty numbers are of any significance to Kristol and Cheney then they should examine the dramatic increase in American deaths occurring during the Obama administration’s 30,000 troop surge announced in December 2009. At the time, Kristol and his fellow hawks embraced the president’s announcement and heralded him as a “war president.” Recent casualty figures show 1,002 U.S. troop died in Afghanistan under Obama and two-thirds of all American casualties in Afghanistan occurred during this presidency.
The contradictions in the ad go even deeper when examining the role played by neoconservatives, such as Kristol, in diverting U.S. troops and resources from Afghanistan by advocating for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.
Middle East Progress director Matt Duss wrote in 2009 that neocons like Kristol were asking the U.S. military to, as Keane put it, “do more with less”:
The broad consensus among national security analysts and aid officials is that the diversion of troops and resources toward Iraq beginning in 2002 was one of the main reasons the Taliban and Al Qaeda were able to to re-establish themselves in the Afghanistan-Pakistan border areas, facilitating the collapse of the country back into insurgent warfare.
The conclusions worth drawing from the latest Keep America Safe ad is that individuals like Kristol and his allies care very little about American casualties, oppose any withdrawal of troops in Afghanistan and will attack Obama for exercising his constitutional authority instead of handing all decision making powers to his generals. Unfortunately, their arguments rely on the ad’s viewers having a very short memory about the history of U.S. involvment in Afghanistan and the unhelpful role played by Kristol.