A senior Senate Democrat on foreign policy issues said on Sunday that the president's pledged July 2011 timeline for a troop drawdown in Afghanistan was malleable to the requests of military command.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Cali.), whose hawkish grounding has angered progressive in the past, likely facilitated that anger again, when she told "Fox News Sunday" that if General David Petraeus asked for more troops next summer, he should be granted them.
"I would say give it to him, absolutely," said the California Democrat. "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. Ten years is a long time to fight a war, particularly with what happened before the 10 years. And so we need to understand that [we have] to get the military trained, get the government online, secure and stabilize, and I think do away with the drugs to a great extent, because the drugs are now fueling the Taliban."
Feinstein, who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, has long sounded warnings about the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan. But her comments on Sunday appear to be the most explicit endorsement of scrapping the July 2011 timeframe for a troop drawdown -- should circumstances demand it.
It's a position that will only fuel suspicion that Congress lacks the political will to actually stick to the timeline for withdrawal (by, say, using the power of the purse to affect it). Indeed, Feinstein seemed to fully cede legislative influence over the course of the war when she granted during the Fox News interview that the United States should "put all of our eggs in the Petraeus basket at this stage."