RNC’s Steele issues statement defending Afghan war remarks 

RNC chairman Michael Steele has just issued a statement on the controversy over his remarks about the war in Afghanistan. At a recent RNC event, Steele was caught on tape saying that Afghanistan is “a war of Obama’s choosing” and is “not something that the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in.” In his just-released statement, Steele says that President Obama “shifted his focus” from Iraq to Afghanistan, which “means this is his strategy.”  And of his statement that “the one thing you don’t do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan,” Steele now says “the stakes are too high for us to accept anything but success in Afghanistan.”  Here is Steele’s complete statement:

As we enter the Fourth of July weekend, I proudly remember standing with Maryland National Guardsmen on their way to the Middle East and later stood with the mothers of soldiers lost at war. There is no question that America must win the war on terror.

During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Barack Obama made clear his belief that we should not fight in Iraq, but instead concentrate on Afghanistan. Now, as President, he has indeed shifted his focus to this region. That means this is his strategy. And, for the sake of the security of the free world, our country must give our troops the support necessary to win this war.

As we have learned throughout history, winning a war in Afghanistan is a difficult task. We must also remember that after the tragedy of September 11, 2001, it is also a necessary one. That is why I supported the decision to increase our troop force and, like the entire United States Senate, I support General Petraeus’ confirmation. The stakes are too high for us to accept anything but success in Afghanistan.

UPDATE: Conservative blogger Erick Erickson has now called for Steele to resign, saying the chairman has lost the “moral authority” to lead the party.  Earlier Friday, Weekly Standard editor William Kristol called on Steele to step down.

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