WASHINGTON - With US President Barack Obama turning his attention on the war in Afghanistan so soon after taking power, voices are being raised about the wisdom of deploying more troops in an attempt to crush the Taliban and al-Qaeda in that conflict-torn country. Former Sen. George McGovern, a key Obama supporter, urged the president to change course, reconsider the US military buildup in Afghanistan and remove troops and bases throughout the Middle East. Obama should call a five-year "time-out" on war and increase efforts to feed children in poor countries, McGovern wrote in The Washington Post on Sunday. "During that interval, we could work with the UN World Food Program, plus the overseas arms of the churches, synagogues, mosques and other volunteer agencies to provide a nutritious lunch every day for every school-age child in Afghanistan and other poor countries. Such a program is now underway in several countries approved by Congress and the United Nations, under the auspices of the George McGovern-Robert Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Act," McGovern added. A QUESTION "Can President Obama succeed in that long-lamented 'graveyard of empires' " a place that has crushed foreign occupiers for more than 2,000 years?," is the question posed in a New York Times article on Sunday. "But even as Mr. Obama's military planners prepare for the first wave of the new Afghanistan 'surge,' there is growing debate, including among those who agree with the plan to send more troops, about whether " or how " the troops can accomplish their mission, and just what the mission is," wrote Helene Cooper, The Times' diplomatic correspondent in Washington. "Afghanistan has, after all, stymied would-be conquerors since Alexander the Great. It's always the same story; the invaders " British, Soviets " control the cities, but not the countryside. And eventually, the invaders don't even control the cities, and are sent packing". Think Iraq was hard? Afghanistan, former Secretary of State Colin Powell argues, will be "much, much harder." MORE US CASUALTIES? Meanwhile, Vice President Joe Biden says the Americans should expect more US military casualties as the Obama administration plans to send additional troops to Afghanistan. Pentagon officials say they plan to send up to 30,000 additional troops to the Afghan war, where the Taliban is resurgent and violence has been on the rise. The request for more troops from military commanders was endorsed by the Bush administration and has been favoured by the Obama government, too. Biden said Sunday that additional U.S. forces will be engaging the enemy more. Asked if that means the U.S. public should expect more American casualties, the vice president said: "I hate to say it, but yes, I think there will be. There will be an uptick." Biden spoke on CBS' "Face the Nation." Playing on the title of an Obama book, "The Audacity of Hope," McGovern, the 1972 Democratic presidential candidate, suggested "a truly audacious hope for your administration: How about a five-year time-out on war " unless, of course, there is a genuine threat to the nation?" "Mr. President," McGovern wrote, "the bright promise of your brilliant campaign for the White House and the high hopes of the millions who thronged the Mall on Tuesday to watch you be sworn in could easily be lost in the mountains and wastelands of Afghanistan." The US has an estimated 34,000 troops in Afghanistan. Obama is expected to send up to 30,000 more this year. Such a shift from Iraq to Afghanistan would amount to "a near-perfect example of going from the frying pan into the fire," McGovern wrote. The one thing that could unite belligerent Afghan warlords is an invasion by a foreign power, he said. Flexing military muscle only fuels hatred of America, McGovern said, adding that he thinks the U.S. should minimize, not increase, its military presence in countries thought to produce terrorists.