At a news conference on Capitol Hill this afternoon, Feingold rejected the president's plan to send 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan. Obama is scheduled to announce his plans tonight, during a televised prime-time address.
"This is a mistake, to move in the direction of a huge troop build-up," Feingold said. Obama "is doing what he thinks is right. We just disagree."
Feingold was relatively mild; after all, he and Obama are both Democrats. And he gave the president the benefit of the doubt: "Anything I say would be tempered by giving the president an opportunity to actually explain how what I'm hearing about this plan would actually hold together."
But: "I continue to question the wisdom of sending thousands of more troops into Afghanistan."
Feingold said the U.S.'s goal in the region "...continues to be dealing with Al Qaeda, not nation-building in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda is not primarily based in Afghanistan any more." Furthermore, he said, more troops in Afghanistan would further de-stabilize Pakistan.
He also said he agrees with a troop removal time-frame of three years, one of Obama's expected points. "I would be very much in favor of this," Feingold said. "I don't see how that dovetails with increasing our troops to over 100,000."
What might Feingold and other senators do to prevent the president from sending more troops to Afghanistan? He suggested not including funding for troops, resolutions for time-frames and other approaches. "As far as I'm concerned, everything would be on the table to prevent this error from occurring," he said.
UPDATE: After the President's address, Sen. Herb Kohl, D-WI, issued the following statement:
“We cannot simply walk away from Afghanistan, let the Taliban and al Qaeda take over and threaten the stability of a nuclear armed Pakistan. After careful review the President has laid out a new strategy, with timelines and benchmarks and more emphasis on training Afghan troops and police. We should give his new strategy an opportunity to work, but be clear that this is not an open-ended commitment if the Afghan people and government fail to do their part.”