Feingold Calls for Withdrawal From Afghanistan

Monday, 24 Aug 2009 06:22 PM

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WASHINGTON -- The United States should craft a "flexible timetable" for its withdrawal from Afghanistan even though President Barack Obama may be considering plans to ramp up U.S. forces there, a senator urged Monday.

"It is time we ought to start discussing a flexible timetable, when people in America and Afghanistan and around the world can see where we intend and when we intend to bring our troops out," Democratic Sen. Russell Feingold said.

"I think showing the people there and here that we have a sense about when it's time to leave is going to be one of the best things we can do to succeed in Afghanistan. People in that country have to take ownership of it, everybody says that," he said.

Feingold, who was the first U.S. senator to call for a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, was speaking to a newspaper in his home state of Wisconsin amid a growing U.S. debate about troop levels in Afghanistan.

"We have to be dead serious about security. We have to maintain the ability to go after al-Qaida within Afghanistan. It doesn't mean we give that up," he told the Appleton Post-Crescent.

"But simply continuing operations there — and apparently there are going to be requests for many more troops — I'm not sure it's a wise idea," Feingold said.

Feingold spoke amid widespread speculation that the US military commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, will recommend a troop increase when he delivers a formal assessment of the war effort within the next two weeks.

"After eight years, I am not convinced that simply pouring more and more troops into Afghanistan is a well thought out strategy," said the senator, who expressed concerns that sending more U.S. forces could destabilize the region.

"Aren't we sort of helping drive more extremists into Pakistan, by continuing to build up troops and resentment in Afghanistan. And of course Pakistan is where the witch's brew of every kind of nightmare comes together in a nuclear country and I think it's not a very well thought strategy," he said.

Copyright © 2009 Agence France Presse. All rights reserved.

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