On a special 7 p.m. pre-Obama address edition of MSNBC’s “Hardball” on Tuesday, following President Barack Obama‘s announcement of a deal that would extend the presence of U.S. troops in Afghanistan until 2024, “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough said that Republican support for the policy “means one thing, and that is the neocons have won.”
The president’s announcement was followed by an address to the nation that was well received by hawks in U.S. Senate —who Scarborough called the neoconservatives — including Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain.
Scarborough explained why that is a bad sign for conservatives wanting to see the U.S. presence in Afghanistan wound down, and that Obama’s trip to war-torn Afghanistan was the president using politics to further that policy.
“I will say that Dwight Eisenhower, a man who was I consider to be one of the great presidents of the 20th century, of course got elected president by making that famous declaration, ‘I shall go to Korea,’” Scarborough said. “Again, as I said before, commander-in-chiefs have been using politics to further policy. And you, I think, you have underlined a great point, as has Chuck [Todd] — the president of the United States has used this one-year anniversary to promote his Afghanistan policy. And to be really blunt about it, as much respect as I have for [Sen.] John McCain and as much as I like [Sen.] Lindsay Graham, I would feel a lot more comfortable if those two hawks — those two neoconservative Republicans — were actually condemning the president’s policy tonight because the fact that they are all out supporting him means one thing, and that is the neocons have won.”
Scarborough said he anticipated that with each of these extensions, there will be more extensions. (RELATED: White House press office lies about Afghanistan trip for security reasons)
“We’re going to be in Afghanistan until 2020,” he continued. “And again, three years ago I was saying we didn’t need to triple the number of troops. People said we would be out by 2012, 2014. And I said 2014 means 2020. I suspect 2020 now may mean 2025. And it’s very troubling. I think it is a big mistake. But Chris, bottom line is, a lot of Republicans aren’t going to be happy regardless of what the president does, just like Democrats aren’t happy regardless of what a Republican commander-in-chief does. The world keeps turning, as my grandmom used to say.”
The “Morning Joe” host said the significance of McCain’s reaction, followed by other hawkish senators, is that it makes it difficult for other Republican members of Congress to criticize the policy.
“[T]hat’s exactly why John McCain and Lindsay Graham are happy tonight,” Scarborough explained. “They run the neocon caucus there. They freeze Republicans from speaking out. I’m speaking out tonight, the way George Will has been speaking up. There are a lot of senators on Capitol Hill — Republicans — that say to me privately they agree with me, that we didn’t need to triple the number of troops. But they followed John McCain, who’s followed by Lindsay Graham, who’s followed by Joe Lieberman. And make no mistake, with all due respect to these gentlemen, the neocons won tonight.”