In an editorial board meeting with the Appleton Post-Crescent, Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) said it’s time for a withdrawal timetable for our forces in Afghanistan. Feingold was the first U.S. Senator to publicly state the need for a withdrawal date from Iraq. Today he became the first senator to say the same about our war in Afghanistan.
“After eight years, I am not convinced that simply pouring more and more troops into Afghanistan is a well thought out strategy. And I have raised this issue with the President, with the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mullen, Mr. Holbrooke, the special representative to the area, and everybody else I can and have never been convinced that they have a good answer to the concern that I have, and that other people have.
It’s not surprising Feingold is dissatisfied with answers from Holbrooke and Gates. The former gave an uninspiring definition of success in Afghanistan: “We’ll know it when we see it.” The latter called how long we’d be fighting an active war in Afghanistan a “mystery.”
“So something I have not said before which I want to say here in Appleton is that I think 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…
(Four) years ago I was the first senator in the United States – I announced it in Marquette, Wisconsin – to say we ought to have a timetable for Iraq. I believe that activism was important in moving us forward and having elections where people said it’s time to finish it.
“So we have to be dead serious about security. We have to maintain the ability to go after al Qaeda within Afghanistan. It doesn’t mean we give that up. 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 has been out in front on this issue all year. Speaking with Jeremy Scahill on June 24, 2009, Feingold said:
“This is something I’ve been trying to hammer away at,” Feingold tells The Nation. “They admitted that it’s a problem, but where’s the follow-up? This administration is almost whistling past the graveyard on this issue.
Bravo, Senator Feingold.
(Derrick Crowe is the Afghanistan blog fellow for Brave New Foundation / The Seminal. You can learn more about the threat the Afghanistan war poses to our security at Rethink Afghanistan, or by watching the latest segment, “Security,” on YouTube.)