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Ryan's Shifting Views on America's "Forgotten War"

Author: Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, Senior Fellow for Women and Foreign Policy
August 27, 2012
Foreign Policy

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Paul Ryan's views are evolving with his time on the Republican ticket. And while most attention has gone to his opinions and policy prescriptions on domestic issues, most notably Medicare and the federal budget, he also has moved closer to his presidential candidate's position on the war that won't be named: Afghanistan.

No candidate - neither President Barack Obama, nor Mitt Romney, has wanted to devote significant policy airtime to the unpopular war in Afghanistan, which polls show 60 percent of Americans see as "not worth its costs." The president, when he mentions Afghanistan, focuses on his role in "winding down the war in Afghanistan," a conflict the AP recently called America's "forgotten war"and which has now claimed 2,000 American lives.

Romney has struggled on the campaign trail to differentiate his position on Afghanistan from the president's, but in a recent interview with TIME he said that while he agreed with the decision to send a "surge" of troops to Afghanistan and to bring all troops home by 2014, he "would not have announced publicly the withdrawal date of the end of 2014." In other words, he agreed with the date, but would not have shared it. Romney also said he would have started the drawdown of surge forces this December, rather than September, to give the military another fighting season with more forces at the ready. And Romney asserted he would have given US military leaders the additional 40,000 troops they requested in 2009, rather than sending 30,000, as the president decided.

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