As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Feingold Asks For A Timetable In Afghanistan

The initial reports out of Afghanistan show Hamid Karzai and Abdullah Abdullah even with about 10% of the vote counted. Presuming that urban areas like Kabul would be among the first to be counted rather than the outlying regions, that's probably good news for Abdullah. But Kandahar and Helmand, allegedly Karzai strongholds, have not come in yet.

But of course there have been so many allegations of fraud, in addition to intimidation from the Taliban and the near-impossibility of women to be properly represented, that these vote totals mean almost nothing. The ensuing chaos could lead to more violence and less legitimacy among the government. And four more US troops died yesterday.

In this environment, Russ Feingold has called for a timeline for withdrawal, becoming the first member of Congress, to my knowledge, who has done so.

"After eight years, I am not convinced that pouring more and more troops into Afghanistan is a well thought out policy," said Feingold. The liberal Democrat said he expressed his reservations with President Obama, Admiral Mullen, and others inside the Administration and he says he has "never been convinced they have a good answer."

"I think it is time we start discussing a flexible timetable so that people around the world can see when we are going to bring our troops out," said Feingold. "Showing the people there and here that we have a sense about when it is time to leave it one of the best things we can do," he added.

The Administration hasn't given Feingold a good answer because they don't have one. But politicians, fearing the slings and arrows of the lords of toughness, will go along to get along. Have people really tested this hypothesis? Is it actually true that to be an elected official, you have to support endless war? Russ Feingold is up for re-election next year. He's not from the bluest state in the union, but Wisconsin, a swing state in Presidential elections that normally tilts slightly blue. And yet he assessed the situation in Afghanistan on the merits and not on how it would impact his re-election chances. And he'll probably emerge victorious.

If only more Democrats shared his courage.

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