The U.S. is facing a furious new anti-American backlash in Afghanistan after a rogue U.S. Army sergeant allegedly killed 16 Afghan villagers, including women and children, in their homes over the weekend. As Taliban officials call for revenge attacks, the U.S. and NATO insist this disturbing incident won't affect their plan to hand over security duties to Afghan forces and withdraw in 2014. But some critics say this tragedy proves we should get out even sooner. GOP presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich said the latest crisis, coming on the heels of protests over the burning of Korans at a U.S.-run base, makes it clear that the Western mission in Afghanistan is no longer "doable." At this point, are we only making matters worse by staying?
It's obviously time to leave: Afghans are understandably enraged, says Ross Kaminsky at The American Spectator, and it's clear that even "the little that the U.S. can claim to have achieved in Afghanistan, at great cost over a decade, is now likely to be lost." Even Afghan President Hamid Karzai rebuffed President Obama's apology and proclaimed this act "unforgiveable." "No American, and probably no Westerner, will be safe in Afghanistan for a decade after the soldier's murderous rampage." There's no sense staying in the wake of this "truly heinous crime" — which is sure to spark years of violence against U.S. soldiers.
"Murder in Afghanistan"
It's not too late to turn things around: The U.S. can still succeed in Afghanistan, says Jeremi Suri at CNN, but not if we keep acting like we care more about our "exit strategy" than the welfare of the Afghan people. If we commit to throwing everything we have at the enemy, and doing whatever it takes to rebuild Afghanistan, our soldiers and the Afghan public will have "a reason to believe that things will get better." And if we don't? This "self-defeating cycle" will only get worse.
"America's self-defeating cycle in Afghanistan"
Maybe the war was never winnable: After this massacre, you can bet that "the pressure to quit before 2014 will grow," says Andrew Sullivan at The Daily Beast. And while "it would be lovely to believe that we can do more than wipe out al Qaeda in Afghanistan," the truth is, we can't. We can't tame the Taliban, we can't force Karzai's government to be less corrupt, and we can't convince Pakistan to be a more reliable partner in Afghanistan. In the end, maybe "our cultures are far too far apart to mesh; and the more we insist on succeeding with an unwinnable transition, the deeper into the mire we go."
"Massacre in Afghanistan: Is this the end?"