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On Afghanistan, Both Parties Wary of Obama

By Ben Pershing
Just as President Obama is seeking to unify Democrats behind his health-care proposals against a solid wall of GOP opposition, he may be forced to do the opposite if he decides to send more troops to Afghanistan.

Many Hill Democrats will back resources for training and supporting Afghan forces, but not for adding more U.S. troops. "The emerging Democratic consensus is likely to constrain the president as he considers how best to proceed with an increasingly unpopular war," The Washington Post writes, explaining that Obama "could be forced into the awkward political position of turning to congressional Republicans for support." The president's party is wary, with House Democrats elected in 2006 and 2008 watching Obama closely on Afghanistan, Politico reports. They, like Obama, emphasized during their winning campaigns that they supported the war effort in Afghanistan even as they criticized the Bush administration's actions in Iraq. Now, those back-bench Democrats and their leaders and committee chairmen must decide whether they would be willing to publicly break with their new president on one of his first major military decisions.

Complicating the situation for Obama is the fact that some Republicans who would be inclined to support him on Afghanistan are growing concerned at the pace of his decision-making. "What we want to know right now is what the commander-in- chief says," said Richard Lugar, Obama's closest foreign policy ally on the GOP side, according to Bloomberg. He added that he wanted Obama "to move on a little bit more decisively." Lugar's comments came after Jim Jones gave senators a classified briefing on the state of play in Afghanistan, during which he reportedly said Obama would make his troop decision in the coming weeks.

Continue reading at Political Browser »

By Ben Pershing  |  October 1, 2009; 8:32 AM ET
Categories:  The Rundown  
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