Senate Dem: McCain's views on Afghanistan 'completely off-track'

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) "is completely off track" in saying that calls to withdraw troops from Afghanistan amount to isolationism, according to an Oregon Democrat.  

"Senator McCain is completely off track. This isn't about isolationism. This is about the most effective strategy to take on terrorism around the world," Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said Wednesday on MSNBC.

"The CIA says that there are less than 50 to 100 al Qaeda left in Afghanistan — far more in Pakistan, far more in Somalia, in Yemen. We have to have a global strategy that recognizes our strength in terrorism. Not a strategy that seeks to build institutions in the remote part of the world that isn't our strength," Merkley said.

McCain made the isolationist comment Tuesday after Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said the U.S. wasn't wanted in Afghanistan and that the price tag of continuing the mission there is too high. 

“I feel compelled to respond to the statements by the senator from West Virginia that characterize the isolationist withdrawal, lack of knowledge of history attitude, that seems to be on the rise in America,” McCain said. “In case he forgot it or never knew it, we withdrew from Afghanistan one time and the Taliban came, followed by al Qaeda, followed by attacks on the United States.”

Both Merkley's and Manchin's comments fall in line with increasing calls by legislators to quickly withdraw from Afghanistan.

President Obama is set to announce his withdrawal plans for U.S. troops in Afghanistan Wednesday night.

"Afghanistan is going to go on fine without us," Merkley said.

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