WASHINGTON, March 11 (UPI) -- Republican presidential hopeful Newt Gingrich said the time is right for the United States to end its military presence in Afghanistan.
Appearing on CBS' "Face the Nation," Gingrich said the fundamental political changes needed in the Middle East were beyond the ability of the United States to stage manage.
"I don't think we have the will power or the capacity to do the things you have to do to fundamentally change the region," said Gingrich, a leading conservative who is trailing in the race for the GOP nomination.
Gingrich said the fact that al-Qaida godfather Osama bin Laden lived quietly in Pakistan, the rising prominence of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and the seeming lack of progress in stabilizing Afghanistan demonstrated it was time for the United States to develop its own energy resources and back away from the Middle East.
Gingrich also told CBS President Obama would be right to apologize for Sunday's shootings of Afghan civilians by a rogue U.S. soldier. Although Gingrich had slammed Obama for his apology for the mistaken destruction of Korans at an Afghan base, he said Sunday's tragedy was a different matter.
"With the burning of the Koran, they were killing young Americans, and no American president should apologize to people who are in the process of killing young Americans," Gingrich said. "This is a different situation. We obviously want to offer condolences to the families. I think we want to offer compensation and we want to recognize this is a terrible event."