The slaughter of 16 Afghan civilians by a U.S. staff sergeant crystallizes the pointlessness of and frustration with the muddle of Afghanistan.

The rationalization for a continued U.S. military presence in Afghanistan is long gone. Leadership is required from the commander-in-chief to put Afghanistan behind us.

mission accomplishedThe 9/11 terror attacks triggered the invasion. Al-Qaeda is defeated. Osama bin Laden is dead. In the aftermath of the Koran burnings and Kandahar killings, Afghans are chanting “Death to America” and burning effigies of president Obama. It’s time to get out. Staying the course only because we have invested blood and treasure simply doesn’t cut it.

The Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America warn that the Kandahar massacre will further the divide between U.S. soldiers and the huge part of American society that has no ties with the military. It likens mission-less Afghanistan to the wind-down of the Vietnam war.

Once the U.S. public realized the senselessness of backing a corrupt government in Vietnam, it turned on American soldiers as enablers of the Saigon regime. Returning American GIs were ostracized as “baby-killers.” A generation was lost to joblessness, violence, drugs and despair. The reason: weak-kneed Washington politicos who didn’t want to be accused of “losing” Vietnam.

President Obama says the Kandahar killings “makes him more determined” to get U.S. troops out of Afghanistan. Clueless, Mitt Romney wants to add 100,000 more soldiers into the mess.

The president says there should not be a “rush to the exits.” He’s right. There should be a race or stampede to the exits.

Obama meets with British prime minister David Cameron tomorrow to hash out the drawdown of U.S. and British forces from Afghanistan. The president should borrow George W. Bush’s “Mission Accomplished” banner, hang it in front of White House and announce an accelerated withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Let the Afghans determine what kind of lives they want to lead. The U.S. has enough on its plate.