Atrocities latest proof we should leave Afghanistan
The news was unbelievable.
U.S. officials were still trying to quell the riots over mistaken burning of defaced Qurans last month, when an American soldier apparently snapped, went from house to house in an Afghan village and killed 16 people, mostly women and children.
There are reports he entered three homes in all and set fire to some of the bodies. Eleven of the dead were from a single family and nine were children.
The attacker was an Army sergeant assigned to support a special operations unit of either Green Berets or Navy SEALS engaged in a village stability operation, according to a U.S. official speaking on condition of anonymity.
If the stories are true, there is certainly no excuse for his action, as there was none for the burning of the holy books, the U.S. Marines urinating on dead Taliban militants, or any of the other atrocities recently reported.
Neither, however, were there excuses for the six U.S. service members killed by the Afghan soldiers who were their supposed allies, nor a long list of atrocities leading back to, and beyond, the 9/11 attacks by terrorists trained and harbored by Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, and even farther than that.
We need look no farther back in history than to the Soviet and British empires to rediscover that Afghanistan is a trap for invaders attempting to tame its rugged terrain and even more inhospitable culture.
Not that our service people haven't done an heroic job, given the impossible tasks they have been assigned. As one example, they've been forced to tolerate the widespread cultivation of poppies for heroin production as the country struggles to rebuild its economy, even as that benefits the Taliban.
No one can question the determination and loyalty of the young American men and women who answer the call to serve their country at the risk of their own lives.
But like the Soviets, the British, even the Mongols and Alexander the Great, we're learning that Afghanistan is a place we don't belong.
Not that we should have tolerated Afghanistan's role in the terror attacks on September 11. Those acts, and any like them in the future, demand a swift, decisive response. But such a response must be accomplished in a matter of months rather than the decade we have spent in Afghanistan.
President Obama has pledged to have American troops out of combat by mid-2013.
That date can't come soon enough.