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Thursday, October 8, 2009

 4:44 PM 

Feingold: Afghanistan surge would be a 'very serious error'

U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold says that President Obama would be committing a "very serious error" if he follows a recommendation to substantially increase troop levels in Afghanistan.

Feingold said his opposition to the troop surge of 40,000 suggested by military leaders may even lead him to vote against funding for expanding the operation.

"I would take whatever appropriate steps are necessary to try to persuade (Obama) not to do it, including using my vote," Feingold, D-Middleton, said today in an appearance on CNN's "Situation Room."

Feingold is pushing for a flexible withdrawal timetable from Afghanistan, and said he has talked with the president about that option. He said remaining in Afghanistan takes the focus off going after al-Qaida on an international level.

"The idea of being (in Afghanistan) indefinitely is counterproductive, it helps unify the Taliban," he said. "It's really the opposite of what we need to do. It does not make sense and it's a very serious error if you want to be serious about going after al-Qaida internationally."

Feingold also said he would oppose a smaller troop infusion.

"I think that's muddling through," said Feingold when asked he if would support a surge of have the recommended 40,000. "I think there ought to be a recognition here ..,. that it's time to start thinking about how we disengage from this situation, how we put it back in an appropriate context of an international fight against al-Qaida rather than an attempt to create nation building. And I certainly don't think we can do it by adding 40,000 troops. I certainly don't think we can do it by splitting it in half as apparently the president and others are looking at. It has to be a real strategy. And the appropriate strategy is to draw down in Afghanistan and use our resources internationally with others in the world who want to stop al-Qaida to go after al-Qaida. That is our enemy, not the people of Afghanistan."


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