Republican Rep. Mark Green of Tennessee insisted this week that he and his colleagues "will not tolerate" the Biden administration's efforts "to strike a deal with the Taliban." It was a familiar message: Many prominent GOP voices in recent weeks have denounced U.S. negotiations with the Taliban in no uncertain terms.
These same Republicans, of course, had far less to say last year, when the Trump administration reached a surprisingly generous agreement with the Taliban.
The shift is part of a larger pattern. As the U.S. war in Afghanistan neared its end, some of the most powerful voices in Republican politics — including Donald Trump and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy — have voiced all kinds of opinions related to the conflict, many of which contradict other GOP positions.
Republicans are for and against Taliban negotiations. They're for and against the withdrawal of U.S. troops. They're for and against welcoming Afghans and their families who supported us during the war. They're for and against the Doha agreement from last year. The former president this week went so far as to float the idea of the United States going back into Afghanistan "with unequivocal military force," despite years' worth of rhetoric about keeping troops out of the country.
What Republicans have is a series of vague complaints about President Joe Biden and the White House's policy in Afghanistan. What they don't have is a coherent policy of their own. As a New York Times analysis put it:
[Republicans' efforts] have been complicated by Mr. Trump's rhetorical reversal, leaving Republicans struggling to articulate a view that does not contradict either his previous support for leaving Afghanistan or his current stance in criticizing the pullout. The results have left it difficult to discern exactly what Mr. Trump and his devotees now actually believe.
After the longest war in U.S. history, Republicans are approaching Afghanistan in the most post-policy way possible: Leading GOP voices are outraged by Biden for reasons they've struggled to articulate with specificity; they're certain the withdrawal could've been less chaotic though they haven't said how; they're longing for a Taliban deal they no longer support; and they have no use for anything they've said about the war before a few weeks ago.
"You can't be going out there and saying, 'This war was worthless and we need to bring the troops home' in May, and now hitting Biden for doing just that," Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger told the Times. The Illinois congressman added, "There's no shame anymore."
There's also no Republican Party policy anymore.