One of President Barack Obama's closest allies in the Senate would not commit on Sunday to voting in favor of the proposed surge of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, saying he had outstanding questions about how serious the administration was about its withdrawal timeline.
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) told Fox News Sunday that he was "skeptical as to whether 30,000 more troops will make a difference," noting that there were now "over 200,000" troops in the country, when counting those from NATO, the Afghan army and the United States.
Asked specifically if he would vote in favor of a budget to pay for the additional troops that the president -- his one-time Senate colleague -- has requested, Durbin merely said he would make up his mind after more consultations.
"I will meet with the president...and have conversations about that deadline which appears to be interpreted different ways by different people. But I would like to believe that by July of 2011 that we will be in a position where we are going to see our troops really coming home," said the Illinois Democrat.
"The thing that I find encouraging, you probably find discouraging," Durbin earlier told host Chris Wallace. "And that is the fact that he has said to the leader of Afghanistan, Mr. Karzai; 'There is a limit beyond which we will not leave American troops. We are not going to make Afghanistan a protector of the United States. You have to change your government. You have to show that you are willing to stand up and fight for your own country.' I think that message is long overdue."