The massacre of at least 16 Afghan civilians, apparently by an American soldier, forced the Obama administration Sunday to confront yet another nightmare from the war zone and fresh evidence that patience back home is increasingly wearing thin.
A majority of Americans — 55 percent — believe that most Afghans are opposed to what the United States is trying to accomplish in that country, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll. About as many Americans — 54 percent — want the U.S. military to withdraw even before it can train the Afghan army to be self-sufficient, a pillar of President Obama’s war strategy.
While most Democrats and independents soured on the war a long time ago, the poll found that Republicans, for the first time, are evenly split on whether the decade-long war is worth fighting.
The divide was reflected in Republican presidential contender Newt Gingrich’s call Sunday to withdraw. “I think we’re risking the lives of young men and women in a mission that, frankly, may not be doable,” he said on “Fox News Sunday.” Among Republican candidates, that view puts Gingrich closer to the position of Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.), who has long called for an end to the war.
In contrast, former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney and former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) have staked out the opposite position, criticizing Obama for pledging to withdraw U.S. combat troops by the end of 2014. They have said that declaring a firm timetable for ending the war is a sign of weakness and puts American troops at risk.MSNBC reports:
Rick Santorum today said that the United States should apologize for the massacre of 16 Afghan civilians killed by an American soldier on Sunday.
"This was something that was deliberately done by an American soldier to innocent civilians," Santorum said to reporters after delivering an energy address here. "It’s something that the proper authorities should apologize for."
An often-repeated rallying cry from Santorum on the campaign trail has been that he would not apologize for America. He has been critical of President Obama for apologizing what U.S. military officials say was an accidental burning of Korans by soldiers in Afghanistan last month.
The difference, the former Pennsylvania senator seemed to indicate, is that the Koran burning was accidental, while the massacre in southern Afghanistan was not.