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McCain Press Release: 'Success is the Real Exit Strategy.'

7:48 PM, Dec 1, 2009 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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From the desk of Sen. John McCain:

"The President has made the right decision to embrace a counterinsurgency strategy for Afghanistan and to resource it properly. I think the 30,000 additional U.S. troops that will deploy as part of this mission, plus greater allied commitments, will enable us to reverse the momentum of the insurgency and create the conditions for success in Afghanistan. I support the President's decision, and I think it deserves the support of all Americans, both Republicans and Democrats.

"What I do not support, and what concerns me greatly, is the President's decision to set an arbitrary date to begin withdrawing U.S. forces from Afghanistan. A date for withdrawal sends exactly the wrong message to both our friends and our enemies - in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the entire region - all of whom currently doubt whether America is committed to winning this war. A withdrawal date only emboldens Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, while dispiriting our Afghan partners and making it less likely that they will risk their lives to take our side in this fight.

"Success is the real exit strategy. When we have achieved our goals in Afghanistan, our troops should begin to return home with honor, but that withdrawal should be based on conditions on the ground, not arbitrary deadlines. In the days ahead, I will seek to address this and other questions I have about the President's policy, including my continuing concern about the civilian aspect of our strategy.

"The past months of delay were extended and unnecessary, but that is now behind us. Our focus going forward must be on winning the war in Afghanistan. The nature of our commitment to the success of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and their region will change over time, but our commitment must remain enduring.

"We now have an opportunity to build a bipartisan consensus in support of a vital national security priority: defeating Al-Qaeda and its violent extremist allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and ensuring that these countries never again serve as bases for terrorist attacks against America and our allies. Americans need to know why winning this war is absolutely essential to our country's security. They need to know that things in Afghanistan will get worse before they get better, that casualties will likely go up in the year to come, but ultimately we will succeed.

"America's fortunes in Afghanistan will rely heavily on the dependable courage and resourcefulness of our fighting men and women. The hour is late and the task immense. But we are in capable hands. For that, and so many other things, we are indebted to our troops beyond measure. May God bless them and keep them safe."