Nelson & Rubio weigh in on President Obama's announcement on troop withdrawal from Afghanistan

Here's a statement from Republican Senator Rubio:


“Our ultimate goal in Afghanistan should be to give the Afghan people a chance to build a lasting viable state. This is not about nation-building for the sake of doing so. This is in our vital national interests for two reasons. First, because an unstable Afghanistan will once again become a safe haven for Al Qaeda to operate from. Second, an unstable Afghanistan would become a base of operations for radical Islamic insurgents who seek to take control of Pakistan. A nuclear Pakistan in the hands of a radical Islamic government would be a catastrophic development.



“This is a part of the world where leaders always hedge their bets. Even the slightest impression that the United States is looking to get out is devastating. It is one of the reasons why Pakistan continues to undermine our efforts to target Al Qaeda. It also discourages tribal leaders in Afghanistan from cooperating with us to defeat the Taliban, and it encourages the Taliban to keep on fighting.



“Afghanistan is not just about Afghanistan. It is about the bigger fight against Al Qaeda and radical Islamic terrorism.



“After a decade of fighting, the American people are weary of war. Facing massive unemployment and a growing national debt, they are weary of the effort’s cost. So am I. But the answer to a bad situation is not to make it worse. And I have always believed that a troop withdrawal plan based not on progress towards our ultimate goal, but rather on a desire to hit certain numbers, would be a tragic mistake.



“Yes, American troops need to leave Afghanistan, but they should do so pursuant to a plan that accomplishes our vital goal. I hope that in the days to come, the President will more clearly articulate how his troop withdrawal plan does that.

Everybody has an opinion after President Obama announced in a prime time address Wednesday night that he will withdraw 10,000 troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year. The remaining 20,000 troops from the 2009 “surge” of forces would leave by next summer, amounting to about a third of the 100,000 troops now in the country.

Our favorite bit of analysis immediately after the speech came from Lawrence Wilkerson, former aide to Secretary of State Colin Powell, on Keith Olbermann's Countdown on Current TV. If there's a clip available we'll post it - but essentially Wilkerson doesn't believe the U.S. will be out of Afghanistan or Iraq in 10 years time, much less three as is supposed to be the case.

In the meantime, we bring you the thoughts of Florida's two U.S. Senators. First, Democrat Bill Nelson:

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