Less than 24 hours after Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., blasted Sen. Joe Manchin on the Senate floor for being uninformed and ignorant of history in his rigid pleas for rapid troop withdrawal in Afghanistan, the West Virginia Democrat took to the morning news circuit Wednesday to say that McCain “is right—I don't have the experience he's had.”
“I have the utmost respect for Sen. McCain, the sacrifices he's made, and the service he gave to the country,” Manchin said on MSNBC’s Morning Joe. But, he added, “What I do have is a little bit of common sense. Enough is enough.”
But Manchin argued his resume isn’t founded solely on common sense. “I have been around my state,” Manchin said. “I have been overseas twice: In 2006, I was there as governor to thank my troops for the job they were doing; I went back in 2011 as a United States senator. I did not see improvement. I came to my own conclusion, after listening to a lot of people, that we can no longer continue to spend the billions.”
Manchin’s way forward goes beyond cutting spending and downsizing troops: “What I would like to see is clarity of change of mission,” he said. “I think with Osama bin Laden, we have proven that you can't hide. However long it takes, we'll find you.”
Though Manchin said his sentiment is guided by the umbrella belief that “I don't think we can build a nation in Afghanistan, pure and simple,” another of his criticisms of U.S. presence in Afghanistan has earned an unlikely ally. Jon Huntsman, the former ambassador to China under President Obama and the latest GOP presidential candidate, endorsed Manchin’s remark that as the U.S. exhausts its efforts in Afghanistan, China is moving in and mining the nation’s resources.
“Joe is speaking sensibly,” Huntsman said Wednesday on Morning Joe. “Here’s the reality: China loves and hates the fact we're in Afghanistan. They love the fact we’re holding down the peace and maintaining stability so they can basically move in and transact business; they hate us because we’re in a neighboring nation state, which is one of the real sensitivities on the Korean Peninsula.”