McCain calls Manchin uninformed on Afghanistan

AP News
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Posted: Jun 21, 2011 7:17 PM
McCain calls Manchin uninformed on Afghanistan

Don't know much about history, don't know much about geography.

Channeling the late singer-songwriter Sam Cooke, longtime Republican Sen. John McCain harshly rebuked Sen. Joe Manchin on Tuesday after the freshman West Virginia Democrat called on President Barack Obama to accelerate the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. McCain said Manchin's comments "characterize the isolationist withdrawal, lack of knowledge of history attitude that seems to be on the rise in America."

Manchin, who faces re-election next year, had gone to the Senate floor to spell out his reasons for favoring significant troop cuts. The moderate West Virginian joined a growing list of members of Obama's party pushing for a deep drawdown after a nearly 10-year war in Afghanistan. Obama will announce his plans for troop withdrawals on Wednesday.

"I believe it is time for President Obama to begin a substantial and responsible reduction in our military presence in Afghanistan," Manchin said in a Senate speech. "I believe it is time to for us to rebuild America, not Afghanistan."

He cited the nation's fiscal crisis, the dwindling number of al-Qaida in Afghanistan and the killing of terrorist leader Osama bin Laden last month.

McCain, on the Senate floor to discuss Leon Panetta's nomination for Pentagon chief, felt compelled to respond.

"In case the senator from West Virginia forgot it or never knew it, we withdrew from Afghanistan one time. We withdrew from Afghanistan and the Taliban came, eventually followed by al-Qaida followed by attacks on the United States of America," the Arizona Republican said.

The decorated Vietnam War veteran later said, "I'm pleased that the senator from West Virginia went to Afghanistan once. I would suggest that he consult with the people who know best," citing Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander there.

Manchin later said he had been to Afghanistan twice and that if 10 years of war there is not long enough, what is?