Leading Republican lawmakers and the Afghan ambassador to the United States are voicing opposition to President Barack Obama's plan to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan starting next year.
Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham, appearing on the Sunday talk shows while in the Afghan capital, said Obama's decision to start pulling out in July 2011 is a mistake and will embolden Taliban and al-Qaida extremists. The senators and the Afghan envoy, Said Tayeb Jawad, said withdrawal should be based on a conditions on the ground, not a fixed date.
Their comments came as Gen. David Petraeus assumed command of the 130,000-strong international force in Afghanistan. "We are in this to win," he said, at a time of growing casualties and skepticism about the nearly 9-year-old war. Petraeus backs the withdrawal plan but has stressed it will also be based on conditions.
McCain, a former Navy pilot and the ranking Republican on Senate Armed Services Committee, called the deadline "indecipherable" and said it "certainly sounds an uncertain trumpet" to both allies and foes.
"I know enough about warfare," the Arizona senator said. "I know enough about what strategy and tactics are about. If you tell the enemy that you're leaving on a date certain, unequivocally, then that enemy will wait until you leave."