Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum says the United States should either commit to winning the war in Afghanistan or "get out."
Santorum tells ABC's "This Week" that he agrees with rival Newt Gingrich that a commitment to "winning" means recognizing the U.S. will stay in Afghanistan "to finish the job."
The former Pennsylvania senator says an effective U.S. role in the region may not mean the heavy military presence now in Afghanistan. He pointed to the few hundred U.S. troops that cleared the Taliban from local governments in some regions.
Santorum promises to work with experts in the area to determine troop strength and with the Afghan government to ensure its success.
"You know, this is a terrible tragedy. Things that have been occurring, and obviously some of them are just simply that, just simply tragedies of people doing irrational things," Santorum said.
"The bigger issue here is the policy of this administration. The policy of this administration does something you simply can't do if you want to win a war, particularly against a guerrilla insurgence force, and that is give them hope that they can survive," Santorum said. "And that's what the president has done from day one that he came into office, where he put a timeline for us to leave Afghanistan. Once you give a timeline, you give the enemy an objective to hold on, to bunker down, if you will, and survive whatever onslaught the United States is going to put forth.
"And the other problem is, you have all those actors in the region, from Pakistan to the Afghans, who are opposing the Taliban, who realize that the United States isn't going to be there to finish the job, and that they are going to have to deal with the Taliban afterwards. And so you have created an untenable situation."
"And so I, you know, in some respects I agree with Congressman Gingrich. If this is the game plan, if the game plan is we're leaving irrespective of whether we're going to succeed or not, then why are we still there? Let's either commit to winning, or let's get out," Santorum added.
Host Jonathan Karl asked, "OK, so what does President Santorum do? Do you commit to winning, and what does that take? Or do you say it's time to get out?"
"Well, I think if you commit to winning, you change the entire dynamic in the region. You change the dynamic with respect to the Taliban, and you recognize that we're going to stay there and we're going to finish the job," Santorum said.
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