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Feinstein on Afghanistan: Lift Withdrawal Deadline If Petraeus Needs More Time

12:30 AM, Jun 28, 2010 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
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On Fox News Sunday, Democratic senator Dianne Feinstein of California said the plan to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in July 2011 should be scrapped if General Petraeus says he needs more time.

Feinstein on Afghanistan: Lift Withdrawal Deadline If Petraeus Needs More Time

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)

Asked what should be done if Petreaus tells Obama in the spring of 2011 that he needs an extra six months, Feinstein replied: "I would say give it to him, absolutely." Feinstein, chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, continued: "Now, let's talk about the deadline.  This is a transition point toward the beginning of a withdrawal or a drawdown, as Petraeus said in his transcript before the armed services [committee].  And I think he has flexibility, realistically."

Feinstein seemed to be on the same page as Republican senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who appeared alongside Feinstein on Fox News Sunday. "If [the withdrawal date] is a goal where we'll all try to start transferring power over to the Afghans, I'm okay with that," Graham said.  "If it's a date where people are going to begin to leave no matter what, a predetermined withdrawal date, that, in my view, will doom this operation."

"If you're sitting down with a tribal leader," Graham explained, "and everybody in Afghanistan believes that we're going to begin to leave in 2011 July no matter what, it's going to be hard to win over people on the fence, and that's got to change or we're going to lose."

Later, during the Fox News Sunday panel discussion, Bill Kristol said that Feinstein's firm backing of the mission in Afghanistan is the result of Obama's leadership:

now with the president saying he's all in, Senator Feinstein, a Democrat from California, said, "Look, Petraeus has to be given the chance to win and that means being given the right kind of civilian support and having this burden of the deadline lifted off him." ... So I think with Obama's leadership here we can do -- we can do in Afghanistan what we did with President Bush's leadership in Iraq.

As Kristol writes in the latest issue of THE WEEKLY STANDARD, "The only thing Obama could have done [during his remarks on Afghanistan last week] to more dramatically minimize the significance of the July 2011 date would have been explicitly to repudiate it. He should do that, and in a few months he may."

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