The Senate’s top Republican says he’s not headed to a White House meeting Wednesday with recommendations on how to deal with the Iraq situation, but that the crisis bolsters the argument that U.S. troops are still needed in Afghanistan.
McConnell, along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, House Speaker John Boehner, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, will head to the White House to meet with President Obama “as part of his ongoing consultations with congressional leadership on foreign policy issues, including the situation in Iraq,” according to a White House official.
“I’m anxious to see what plan he may have, given where we are, but it certainly underscores the significance of the president reversing the decision he previously indicated he had made for us to leave Afghanistan entirely,” McConnell said Tuesday. “We know that if we don’t leave behind a deployment that the military recommended in Afghanistan, roughly 10,000 troops, for counterterrorism purposes and training purposes, we’re likely to see the same kind of meltdown in Afghanistan that we’ve seen in Iraq.”
Hawkish Republicans have been quick to cast blame for the crisis in Iraq squarely on the Obama administration for agreeing in 2011 to withdraw American troops.
The winding down of America’s war in Afghanistan will take place over the next two years. Nearly 10,000 troops will remain in Afghanistan through the end of this year, but that force will be reduced by half by the end of 2015. The plan now is that by the end of Obama’s term, the U.S. presence in Afghanistan will resemble that of Iraq, with normal embassy operations and a security assistance office in the capital city.
The White House has already announced it’s dispatching up to 275 military personnel to protect the U.S. Embassy in Iraq. Some lawmakers have expressed concern that Congress should be consulted ahead of any military action.
When asked if the president needs congressional approval for military air strikes, Reid said, “In my opinion, I don’t think they need any any more authority than they already have to do what they need to do.”
What We're Following See More »
President Obama became a surprise topic of contention toward the end of the Democratic debate, as Hillary Clinton reminded viewers that Sanders had challenged the progressive bona fides of President Obama in 2011 and suggested that someone might challenge him from the left. “The kind of criticism that we’ve heard from Senator Sanders about our president I expect from Republicans, I do not expect from someone running for the Democratic nomination to succeed President Obama,” she said. “Madame Secretary, that is a low blow,” replied Sanders, before getting in another dig during his closing statement: “One of us ran against Barack Obama. I was not that candidate.”
It’s all about the 1% and Wall Street versus everyone else for Bernie Sanders—even when he’s talking about race relations. Like Hillary Clinton, he needs to appeal to African-American and Hispanic voters in coming states, but he insists on doing so through his lens of class warfare. When he got a question from the moderators about the plight of black America, he noted that during the great recession, African Americans “lost half their wealth,” and “instead of tax breaks for billionaires,” a Sanders presidency would deliver jobs for kids. On the very next question, he downplayed the role of race in inequality, saying, “It’s a racial issue, but it’s also a general economic issue.”
It’s been said in just about every news story since New Hampshire: the primaries are headed to states where Hillary Clinton will do well among minority voters. Leaving nothing to chance, she underscored that point in her opening statement in the Milwaukee debate tonight, saying more needs to be done to help “African Americans who face discrimination in the job market” and immigrant families. She also made an explicit reference to “equal pay for women’s work.” Those boxes she’s checking are no coincidence: if she wins women, blacks and Hispanics, she wins the nomination.
Under pressure from a judge, the State Department will release about 550 of Hillary Clinton’s emails—“roughly 14 percent of the 3,700 remaining Clinton emails—on Saturday, in the middle of the Presidents Day holiday weekend.” All of the emails were supposed to have been released last month. Related: State subpoenaed the Clinton Foundation last year, which brings the total number of current Clinton investigations to four, says the Daily Caller.