Visiting U.S. lawmakers comment on war

July 6, 2010 at 1:16 AM
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KABUL, Afghanistan, July 6 (UPI) -- Three U.S. Senators, ending their visit to Afghanistan, warned any troop withdrawal should be determined by conditions on the ground in Afghanistan.

Ending their two-day visit, Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., Joe Lieberman, Ind-Conn., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., warned American casualties in the war are likely to increase before victory is achieved, the Stars and Stripes reported.

The lawmakers expressed confidence the current campaign in Kandahar would turn the war's tide toward success. Warning against any pre-set troop withdrawal date, said, "In warfare if you tell the enemy you are leaving, you are going to lose."

He and the other senators said such a decision should be based on improving conditions on the ground.

Under U.S. President Barack Obama's Afghan war strategy, the troops may begin to be withdrawn beginning July 2011. McCain said there needs to be a clear signal such a withdrawal would be "based only on conditions that exist at that time."

Obama recently said any withdrawal would be based on conditions, but the senators said the July date continues to send confusing messages. Lieberman, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, said: "I think the setting of that date was a mistake by the president and we hear it everywhere we go here. People say that they think we are leaving. We are not going to leave until we win."

Graham, a retired Air Force colonel, said besides battling the Taliban, other challenges include building an honest government and making the police corruption-free. He said he "would not ask the American people and our men and women in uniform to endure further hardships if I didn't think it was important."

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