Kori Schake gets this very wrong:
What the president and his supporters seem not to understand, though, and it plays to Romney’s advantage, is that there is an actual difference between ending wars and winning them. The president keeps emphasizing he brought the troops home from Iraq and is bringing them home from Afghanistan, but he is silent on whether we achieved the objectives for which we fought.
If the objectives could be achieved, Schake might have a point, but in both Iraq and Afghanistan the U.S. set goals for American and allied forces that could not be reached. Most Americans concluded that the war in Iraq wasn’t worth the cost, and they have reached the same conclusion on Afghanistan. If Romney is the candidate of continuing a war that no longer seems to serve any purpose or American interest, he is at a severe disadvantage with the public, and he and his advisers have to know that. Perhaps that is why Romney avoided going to Afghanistan and opted not to mention it in his convention speech: he is prevented by hawks in his party from seizing on the unpopularity of the war, and public disapproval keeps him from rejecting withdrawal outright, so he remains silent.
So Romney can’t have much of an advantage on the war in Afghanistan when he refuses to talk about it in any detail. Did Schake not see Kerry destroy what little credibility Romney had on this issue with his criticism last night? Kerry accused Romney of holding “every position,” which is a fair description. Romney has said he wants to “defeat” the Taliban, and he won’t negotiate with them, but he once said he doesn’t think the U.S. should be fighting other nations’ “wars of independence” and accepts withdrawal in 2014. Romney’s position on the war is identical with Obama’s, unless he wants to sound “tough” and then it is something else. Romney’s statements on the war in Afghanistan is a perfect example of what happens when a habitual panderer is caught between the demands of his own party’s hard-liners and the preferences of the voters: incoherence and confused leadership that leaves him at the mercy of his hawkish advisers. Romney clearly knows he has no advantage on this issue, which is why he tries to talk about anything else.