Last month, amid escalating violence over the burning of Qurans on a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, GOP presidential contender Newt Gingrich said it was time for the United States military to end its mission there. “We are not going to fix Afghanistan. It is not possible,” he said.
The former House Speaker reiterated that sentiment after news broke this weekend that an American soldier had allegedly murdered 16 civilians in Afghanistan, including 9 children. And this morning on NBC, fellow GOP presidential candidate Rick Santorum indicated that he’s leaning toward Gingrich’s view. “Given all of these additional problems,” he said, “we have to either make the decision to make a full commitment…or we have to decide to get out and probably get out sooner given the president’s decision to get out in 2014.”
But Afghan war weariness isn’t just limited to the campaign trail. Today on Frank Gaffney’s radio show, House Armed Services Committee member Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) — who last year called for a counterterrorism strategy in Afghanistan — said the recent violence provides an opportunity for the U.S. to start “reducing the number” of troops there:
HUNTER: I think we’re getting into an untenable situation. I think we’re at the point — I don’t want to — ya know you look back at these things through history, through a matter of years and they’ll look different than they look right now with us being here.
But I will say this, if there is a time to possibly think about accelerating turning this into a counterterrorism mission, i’m not talking about leaving Afghanistan, but really reducing the number so that what we’re doing is killing the bad guys, this might be a time to look at that because…what you can’t do is be scared that the Afghan counterpart that you’re training, the Afghan major, is going to shoot you in the back the next time you turn around. That makes a counterinsurgency mission, with the number one goal of training the Afghans, our Afghan counterparts, the Afghan Army, if we can’t trust them to not shoot us in the back, that makes it pretty hard to train them.
Listen to the clip:
While Afghans also called on the U.S. to accelerate its withdrawal, the Obama administration said the massacre would not alter U.S. war plans.
A new Washington Post poll found public support for the war, even among Republicans, to be at at all time lows.