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August 21, 2014

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GOP continues to slam new Obama war approach

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Associated Press

In this May 23, 2013, photo, Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., center, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., left, and Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., right, take part in a Capitol Hill press conference to express criticism of President Barack Obama’s speech on Afghanistan, terrorism and the Guantanamo Bay prison. On talk shows Sunday, May 26, 2013, Republicans continue to slam Obama’s push to move the government away from a war footing and refine and recalibrate counterterrorism strategy. “We show this lack of resolve, talking about the war being over,” Graham said. “What do you think the Iranians are thinking? At the end of the day, this is the most tone-deaf president I ever could imagine.”

WASHINGTON — Republicans keep slamming President Barack Obama's push to move the government away from a war footing and refine and recalibrate counterterrorism strategy.

Capitol Hill Republicans such as Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina say Obama is projecting weakness at a time when the United States needs to show resolve against terror networks like al-Qaida.

The South Carolina Republican said Sunday that "at a time when we need resolve the most, we're sounding retreat."

Obama gave a major speech Thursday in which he said al-Qaida is "on the path to defeat" and he's signaling that he's reluctant to commit troops overseas to conflicts like Syria or other countries struggling with instability in the uncertain aftermath of the Arab Spring. He's also modifying policies on the use of unmanned drone aircraft to try to limit civilian casualties and is redoubling his longstanding — but so far unfulfilled — promise to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where many terrorism suspects are being held without formal charges.

Obama is trying to recast the image of terrorists from enemy warriors to cowardly thugs and move the United States away a state of perpetual war.

But Graham said Obama is displaying a "lack of resolve" despite a slew of concerns in the Middle East, including civil war and chemical weapons in Syria and threats to Israel from Syria's unrest and Iran's nuclear program.

"We show this lack of resolve, talking about the war being over," Graham said. "What do you think the Iranians are thinking? At the end of the day, this is the most tone-deaf president I ever could imagine."

"I see a big difference between the president saying the war's at an end and whether or not you've won the war," said Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla. "We can claim that it's at an end, but this war's going to continue. And we have still tremendous threats out there, that are building, not declining, building, and to not recognize that, I think, is dangerous in the long run and dangerous for the world."

Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., defended the president, reprising Obama's theme that maintaining a wartime posture runs the risk of compromising U.S. principles.

"If we're constantly thinking of this as a war, we stand a chance of doing things that compromise our freedoms," Durbin said.

Obama ally Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said that "having transparency, having rules and engaging other activities other than military to help curb the war on terror — diplomacy, economic sanctions and things like that — is going to be useful as well. So I think the president did a very, very smart pivot, realizing we're not going to let up on terrorists, but at the same time we're going to meet the changes in the world."

Graham and Durbin spoke on "Fox News Sunday." Schumer and Coburn spoke on CBS' "Face the Nation."

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  1. Well, of course those in the GOP are fighting Obama's military cuts. They oppose anything he does - nothing new. But, we remember the GOP supporting the pre-9/11 cuts Cheney and his BRAC advocated for a "smarter" more "focused" military. Sound familiar? It should. Obama is heading the way Cheney did - but you would not know that from the GOP reaction.
    It's ridiculous to try and maintain war-level military strength at all times. Not only is it not necessary, but we simply can't afford it.