Feingold To Oppose Troop Increase In Afghanistan

Ackerman has it:

If Gen. Stanley McChrystal proposes, as expected, an increase in U.S. troops for the Afghanistan war, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) is "likely to oppose it," the senator told TWI.

Feingold's opposition to what would be the second U.S. troop increase in Afghanistan this year is the most forceful Senate dissent so far to a war that President Obama has embraced. It represents a preemptive warning to both Obama and to McChrystal, the new commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, who is scheduled to give the Pentagon an assessment of what additional resources he requires for the war next week. And it highlights what some progressives also opposed to escalation see as an opportunity this summer to change public debate about the eight-year war.

"I don't think the case has been effectively made for continuing to send more and more troops into Afghanistan," Feingold said in a Wednesday interview. "I am very unhappy with the answers I've received about the issue of whether constantly increasing troops is helping the situation in Pakistan or making it worse. I suspect it could be making things worse."

Feingold is calling out what others won't: an escalation without a strategy is a potentially huge mistake. Just two weeks ago, Feingold accused the administration of "whistling past the graveyard" on Afghanistan. Will others listen?

Tags: Russ Feingold (all tags)




I have very little use for Feingold anyway.  He's great on civil liberties but all over the map on other important things (guns, nominations).  In reality, he's very far from the leftist superhero that sets a lot of progressive hearts aflutter.

"I don't think the case has been effectively made for continuing to send more and more troops into Afghanistan"

That's not so much a point of skepticism as it is a statement of fact.  McChrystal's recommendations aren't out yet, and they certainly haven't made it past Gates to Obama's desk.  It may well happen that we send more troops in, and it may not realize many improvements in the war.  

But Russ, let's not pretend that you'd be satisfied if only there were a better strategy.  You'd oppose this move even if the Pentagon could easily demonstrate gains.  You'd oppose this even if the strategy were clear and finite.  You just don't like foreign deployments.

I'm also still curious to find out why Feingold voted to confirm Ashcroft but found that Geithner didn't rise to the same level.  I suppose at least on the war issue, Russ will always be predictable.  I credit him for that.

by enr37 2009-08-05 10:54AM | 0 recs
Ad hominem

attacks on Russ Feingold are not relevant to whether his skeptism of the Obama escalation in Afganistan is correct.


by TomP 2009-08-05 11:45AM | 0 recs
Re: Ad hominem

There is no ad hominem attack there. It is a reasonable critique of Russ Feingold and whether he has any credibility on this issue, albeit it could have been worded better. On the other hand calling it "The Obama Escalation," seems pretty absurd. Unlike his predecessor Obama chooses to listen to the advice of the experts regarding situations rather than just cherry picking the opinions that agree with his predetermined course of action. Obviously we would all prefer to not be continuing a war in either Afghanistan or Iraq, and would prefer that both of those conflicts are wound down as quickly as possible; that being said, these things have to be done in an effective manner that assures the best chance of leaving both of those messes better than we found them. To oppose a troop increase in this way seems, to me, to be irresponsible and I can't help but wonder how much personal animus there is between Feingold and Obama.

by JDF 2009-08-05 02:28PM | 0 recs
Re: Ad hominem

Is Obama's approach to Afghanistan significantly different from what he said it would be throughout the campaign?

by Steve M 2009-08-05 02:48PM | 0 recs
Re: Ad hominem

It doesn't seem to be, but Obama was basing his thoughts on Afghanistan during the campaign on the advice of experts and on the information he had access to rather than purely on ideological belief. Also, even if that were not entirely true it would not, by itself, be evidence that Obama is ignoring useful advice or information- something we all know  Bush did entirely too often.

by JDF 2009-08-05 02:57PM | 0 recs
Re: Ad hominem

I don't see how any of us can claim to know what Obama's ideological belief might be with regard to Afghanistan.  I agree, it's commendable if someone puts aside their personal views in favor of advice from the experts, but we don't actually know that such a thing occurred.

I think you are being too harsh on Feingold here.  He is simply saying that he thinks the case needs to be made, which doesn't strike me as outrageous.  Your speculation that even if the case were made, Feingold will still oppose it, doesn't change the fact that he's asking for something reasonable.  And this is pretty respectful disagreement as far as disagreement goes.

by Steve M 2009-08-05 03:05PM | 0 recs
Re: Ad hominem

I can see your point in terms of Feingold and I would admit to having some problems with him stemming back to the campaign that leave me predisposed to assuming the worst; on the other hand, I find it disconcerting that you would believe that Obama has not been listening to expert advice on this and other issues rather than simply following his personal views; I say this because I feel that the administration has done a great job of showing their willingness to listen to expert advice and to neither speak nor make decisions without first giving them due consideration... it is one of the many noticable differences I feel there have been when compared to the last administration... I should also say that I do not in anyway find this remarkable, indeed I would find it remarkable if it were not the case.

by JDF 2009-08-05 04:11PM | 0 recs
Re: Ad hominem

I think Obama listens to expert advice, I just don't have any way of knowing that the expert advice is different from what he would have done otherwise.

by Steve M 2009-08-05 05:21PM | 0 recs
Re: Ad hominem

Besides, US military people have a tremendously hard time focusing on strategy. We have seen that again and again these past 10 years. When it comes to that field you have got to go with the political leadership.

by MNPundit 2009-08-06 02:24PM | 0 recs
Re: Ad hominem

Definitely. I mean just from 2001-2008 we saw how good effective political leaders pick the best millitary strategies that lead to stunning military victories that were necessary for our continues to surivival and safety...

by JDF 2009-08-08 09:05PM | 0 recs
Don't be ridiculous

While I tend to believe that we need a new strategy on a massive scale for Afghanistan (and have believed it since before Bush started his Iraq adventure), it's important to have people like Feingold offering loyal opposition (emphasis on the "loyal")on this issue since Republicans aren't going to do it.

Feingold is his own man; he's going to look out for the interests of his constituants first and foremost... the President's international agenda may be important, but getting Wisconsin troops back home safely is Russ's bigger concern.  My hat's off to him.

by Dracomicron 2009-08-05 01:17PM | 0 recs
I understand Senator Feingold does not

want to increase our troop levels in Afghanistan. He is worried about Taliban moving into Pakistan from Afghanistan. But it is not clear to me, what he would like the administration to do in the current situation. It does not seem that status quo is working either.

I know Sen. Feingold reads/writes sometimes in this blog. Maybe he can answer....

Sorry I posted this comment earlier today in the wrong diary.

by louisprandtl 2009-08-05 12:01PM | 0 recs


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