Just hours after an American soldier allegedly opened fire and killed at least 16 Afghan civilians in Kandahar Province, prominent lawmakers and one 2012 Republican presidential candidate commented on the tragedy on the Sunday morning talk shows.
On “Fox News Sunday,” former House speaker Newt Gingrich said “we clearly have to investigate it,” and added that “We have to indicate clearly and convince the people of Afghanistan that justice will be done and we are not going to tolerate that kind of thing.”
Gingrich said the families of the victims should be compensated and sought to draw a distinction between the U.S. military and the Taliban.
“I think when those kinds of things happen, what makes us different from the Taliban or al-Qaeda, they target, killing civilians,” Gingrich said. “We work very hard not to have things like this happened and we have to live up to our standards and our values.”
Asked whether it is time for the United States to pull out of Afghanistan, Gingrich said “it’s very likely that we have lost — tragically lost the lives and suffered injuries to a considerable number of young Americans on a mission that we’re going to discover is not doable.”
During an interview on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” Gingrich reaffirmed that it is time to draw the war to a close, saying “I don't think we have the willpower or the capacity to do the things you have to do to fundamentally change the region.”
Also appearing on Fox, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) called the shooting a “terrible situation.”
“It is one of those things that you cannot explain except to extend your deepest sympathy to those victims and see that justice is done,” McCain said. He warned against allowing incidents such as the shooting to undermine the nation’s resolve in Afghanistan.
“I understand the frustration and I understand the anger and the sorrow,” McCain said. “I also understand and we should not forget the attacks on the United States of America on 9/11 originated in Afghanistan. And if Afghanistan dissolved into a situation where the Taliban were able to take over or a chaotic situation, it could easily return to an al Qaeda base for attacks on the United States of America.”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said the incident was “very, very sad,” especially in light of the recent accidental burning of Korans by American forces, which sparked upheaval across the country.
“Our troops are under such tremendous pressure in Afghanistan, ” Reid said. “It’s a war like no other war we’ve been involved in. But no one can condone or make any suggestion that what he did was right because it was absolutely wrong.”
Reid said that “we’re on the right track to get out of Afghanistan just as soon as we can.”
Appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said it was unfortunate that “these things happen in war.”
“It will be investigated,” Graham said, “and that soldier will be held accountable for his actions under the military justice system.”
Graham said he is not worried that the war in Afghanistan is becoming unsustainable.
“You just have to push through these things,” Graham said, adding that the surge of forces into Afghanistan under Obama has put “the Taliban on the defensive.”
“My recommendation to the public is, listen to General (John) Allen, who comes back in two weeks. . . We can win this thing. We can get it right. I will support the president when he does the right thing,” Graham said.