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Division on Capitol Hill Over Obama War Strategy

Gwen Ifill gets reactions to President Obama's Afghanistan strategy from lawmakers on Capitol Hill who remain divided over the president's announcement.

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    President Obama's new war strategy in Afghanistan drew strong reactions at home and abroad today.

    Gwen Ifill has our lead story report.


    The White House rolled out its defense of the president's new war policy first thing this morning on Capitol Hill.

    But the secretaries of state and defense quickly encountered skepticism about the decision to send in 30,000 more U.S. troops. Some of it came from members of the president's own party.

    Michigan Senator Carl Levin, a leading Democrat:

    SEN. CARL LEVIN, D-Mich., armed services committee chairman: General James Conway, the commandant of the Marine Corps, said in September, "If I could change only one thing in the south of Afghanistan, it would be to have more Afghan troops."

    Well, it seems to me that the large influx of U.S. combat troops will put more U.S. Marines on street corners in Afghan villages, with too few Afghan partners alongside them.


    Echoing the reasoning the president laid out in last night's prime-time address, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the Afghan mission is critical to American and global security.


    The extremists we are fighting in Afghanistan and Pakistan have attacked us and our allies before. If we allow them access to the very same safe havens they used before 2001, they will have a greater capacity to regroup and attack again. They could drag an entire region into chaos.


    Republicans in general supported the new deployment, but questioned the president's plan to begin pulling troops out in the summer of 2011. Senator John McCain said that amounts to sounding an uncertain trumpet.

  • SEN. JOHN MCCAIN, R-Ariz.:

    You either have a winning strategy and do as we did in Iraq, and then, once it's succeeded, then we withdraw, or we — as — as the president said, we will have a date beginning withdrawal of July 2011.

    Which is it? It's got to be one or the other. It's got to be the appropriate conditions, or it's got to be an arbitrary date. I — you can't have both.

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