THE PLANK OCTOBER 1, 2009
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher is hardly a liberal dove. The right-wing California Republican is a former Reagan aide, a full-throated Iraq war supporter, and once shouted at anti-torture protesters, "I hope it's your family members that die when terrorists strike!" For good measure, he was a close pal of Jack Abramoff.
But a friend who attended a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing on the Afghan elections today tells me that even Rohrabacher expressed serious doubts about the wisdom of sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. That seemed hard to believe. But lo, it turns out that Rohrabacher, a former compatriot of Charlie Wilson in the 1980s who knows a thing or two about Afghanistan, has been warning publicly against a big troop buildup for a while:
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican who traveled with the mujahedeen and witnessed their siege of Jalalabad in 1989, said U.S. planners are not heeding the lessons of the past.
"If the Taliban is going is be defeated, it's got to be by the Afghan people themselves, not by sending more U.S. troops, which could actually be counterproductive," he said.
He noted that Afghan militias did the fighting on the ground that toppled the Taliban in 2001 while the U.S. provided air support, money and weapons.
But wait, it gets better! When liberal Rep. Jim McGovern offered an amendment earlier this year requiring the Pentagon to draw up an exit plan from Afghanistan (the measure went nowhere), Rohrabacher was just one of six Republicans to sign on. Sometimes life surprises.