The Colorado Daily has been asking the candidates of CO-02 about leading issues. I previously shared my thoughts on their responses to the Daily’s health care question. This time, the topic was Afghanistan. Note: this originally ran about one month ago. I became aware of this series only last week. Here is the original Daily webpage introduction. Here is their question:
Should the U.S. still be in Afghanistan, and why or why not? If so, what would some of your objectives for a successful mission be?
Jared Polis‘s answer was pretty good. He shared a 9/11 anecdote, questions why bin Laden remains free, discusses troop realignment as it relates to the number of troops in Iraq, and identifies drug production as one aspect of the Afghani reality that has unfolded. Jared also speaks to the need to protect human rights and secure womens’ resources in order to bring about a more balanced Afghani society. Jared’s approach to the Afghani state of affairs revolves around stabilization. Without stabilizing the region, progress won’t happen.
Will Shafroth‘s answer was just as good as Jared’s. He starts by calling for a reanalysis of our goals to determine if we have the capability to achieve those goals. He identified the Afghanistan approach as being better than Iraq (identifying allies, etc.), and recognizes the importance of implementing diplomacy first in any foreign affair. He employs what I consider to be the correct language with respect to Iraq: invasion and occupation. We are not conducting a war there and the more people recognize that, the sooner we can disengage and stop occupying the Iraqi people’s country. Like Jared, Will identifies restoring stability as a worthy goal, and his definition of success would include no reestablishment of Al Qaeda in the region.
Joan Fitz-Gerald‘s answer was good, but I think it was somewhat weaker than the other candidates’. She begins by pointing out the unfinished mission of finding Osama bin Laden and preventing Al Qaeda from regrouping. She cites the troop number differential between Iraq and Afghanistan, then shares an anecdote regarding women and sub-par civil projects the US constructed. She identifies the importance of Pakistan (neither Jared nor Will did so). I’m with her up to this point in her response. It’s after this portion that I part ways. Her solution would include finishing the military mission. With respect to both bin Laden and Al Qaeda, I don’t think the mission is exclusively military. The mission should include apprehension of suspected terrorists and letting established justice systems deal with them, if necessary. Continuing to invade, kill and occupy foreign lands cannot be the de facto approach of our foreign policy. Joan wants to know what the status of intelligence on bin Laden and Al Qaeda is, which I do agree with. Then she brings up losing a PR war in addition to a military war. In my opinion, Joan is utilizing immoral language to further policies.
Two days ago, I wrote about the right-wing extremist that shot up the church in Tennessee and identified violent language as an impediment to identifying and implementing policies that work for the American people. There is no difference in my mind between the violent language that right-wing pundits use and the violent language that Democrats use. Violent language is violent language, regardless of who uses it. I think saying, “losing a PR war” is a horrible frame from which to operate. It doesn’t exemplify progressive values of opportunity and equality in discussing Afghani policy. The word “war” has been overused to an extreme degree. Are there troops from separate nations lining up fighting with film and pens? Of course not.
All three candidates sound like they’re fairly close on the Afghanistan issue. I think their effectiveness in Congress in developing and implementing an updated policy is highly dependent on how they approach the issue. Jared and Will are closer to matching my approach.