Q&A with Sen. Carl Levin

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Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin, at a July 13 Monitor breakfast, discussed the state of the war in Afghanistan and the replacement of Gen. Stanley McChrystal.

US Sen. Carl Levin is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. The Michigan Democrat recently returned from a trip to Afghanistan and Pakistan. He was the guest speaker at the July 13 Monitor breakfast in Washington. On the Pentagon's survey of active- duty troops and reservists concerning their feelings about serving with gays if the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy is abandoned:

"It is a very good idea to get the attitude of the troops on things, providing it is clearly understood that it is just a question to help guide decisionmakers ... because the military is not a democracy."

On the need for Pakistan to crack down on the Al Qaeda-linked Haqqani insurgent network:

"The Haqqani network and their fighters coming over from Pakistan to Afghanistan is the greatest threat - at least external threat - to Afghanistan.... Can more be done? It has to be done by Pakistan unless it is going to be done by a [US] drone attack on [the Haqqani] headquarters."

On whether President Obama was wise to set a date for beginning to reduce US forces in Afghanistan:

"The setting of that date is the action-forcing mechanism, which is critically important to letting the Afghan leaders know what their responsibility is. …