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Feingold Asks Obama for Timetable on Withdrawal from Afghanistan

ThinkProgress.org [1]

ThinkProgress.org

Think Progress [1] calls attention to a report by ABC News that Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) is calling on President Obama for a timetable [2] for when the U.S. will withdraw forces from Afghanistan. The U.S. invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 after the attacks of September 11, but attention and resources were soon diverted to the U.S. invasion of Iraq (March 2003). President Obama began a build-up of U.S. forces in Afghanistan to intensify military pressure on resurgent Taliban and Al Qaeda forces earlier in 2009. The Wall Street Journal reported on Aug. 22 that there are now 58,000 troops in Afghanistan and nearly 74,000 military contractors [2]. The AP reports that military officials expect that Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the chief U.S. commander in Afghanistan, may ask for an additional 20,000 troops [3]—and even that increase may be less than what McChrystal really needs to get the situation under control. But what would “under control” mean?

Senator Feingold pointed to U.S. ambassador Richard Holbrooke’s recent reply to the question of what success in Afghanistan will look like, “We’ll know it when we see it.” Feingold responded, “That’s not good enough for me.”

Feingold asserts, “This [build-up] is a strategy that is not likely to succeed. . . . After eight years, I am not convinced that pouring more and more troops into Afghanistan is a well thought out policy.”

Feingold’s remarks [4] were recorded in an interview with the editorial board of the Post Crescent in Appleton, Wisconsin, on Monday, Aug. 24.

Graphic from Wall Street Journal [2]

Graphic from Wall Street Journal

For further thinking on what the U.S. should do (or should not do) in and about Afghanistan, readers are encouraged to read the Center for American Progress’s “Sustainable Security in Afghanistan: Crafting an Effective and Responsible Strategy for the Forgotten Front [5],” whose authors include Lawrence J. Korb and Sean Duggan (pdf’s at bottom of article). See also Korb and Duggan’s “A Responsible Afghan Strategy [6],” which appeared in The Nation in April as Obama was announcing the administration’s new strategy for the war in Afghanistan.

One more piece: Bob Herbert’s thoughtful column in the Aug. 25 New York Times, “The Ultimate Burden [7],” about the costs borne by the soldiers and not shared by their  largely oblivious fellow citizens back home. Herbert’s column was prompted in part by a book of Peter van Agtmael’s color photographs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan titled 2nd Tour, Hope I Don’t Die [8].

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