President Obama’s speech laying out the drawdown of U.S. troops in Afghanistan is getting a mixed reaction from Congress. The president said 10,000 troops would come home by the end of the year, and 23,000 more by next summer, effectively ending the 2009 troop surge. The withdrawal would keep a “steady pace” until the final deadline of 2014, the president said.
The plan is taking hits from both sides of the aisle. “It creates an unnecessary risk of failure in Afghanistan,” Republican Sen. John McCain told the Arizona Republic, advocating a slower withdrawal. “We have had over 1,500 young Americans sacrifice their lives in this war, and we have to make sure that wasn't in vain.” [See photos of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.]
And House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi took the opposite view. “It has been the hope of many in Congress and across the country that the full drawdown of U.S. forces would happen sooner than the President laid out,” she wrote in a statement, suggesting the nation should focus instead on creating jobs and rebuilding a strong economy. “We will continue to press for a better outcome.”
The GOP 2012 primary candidates are also split in their responses. Jon Huntsman, who had previously called for a speedy withdrawal, doesn’t think the president’s plan goes far enough—nor does Rep. Ron Paul—while Tim Pawlenty thinks it goes too far. Mitt Romney landed somewhere in the middle with his statement: “We all want our troops to come home as soon as possible, but we shouldn’t adhere to an arbitrary timetable on the withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan,” he wrote. “This decision should not be based on politics or economics.” [Check out our roundup of Afghanistan political cartoons.]
Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. allies in Europe praised Obama’s move, with France announcing its own drawdown shortly after.
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