Anti-American rage has surged again in Afghanistan after an American sergeant randomly killed 16 Afghans in their own homes on Sunday. The soldier has confessed to the crime and says he acted alone in the killings. Villagers in the Panjwai district of Kandahar Province said he set 11 of the bodies on fire—4 of which were young girls under the age of 6. Although President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta called President Karzai to express condolences and promised a thorough investigation, the White House announced on Monday that the event will not affect Afghan strategy or the withdrawal timetable.

Only a few weeks after the Quran incident, the killings come at a very sensitive time in Afghan-American relations. The Taliban vowed to seek revenge for the nine children, three women, and four men that were killed and Afghanistan’s parliament is asking for a public trial of the suspect as reports vary as to how many people were truly involved in the attack. The incident may provide ammunition to those in Washington advocating for an accelerated exit from the $500 billion war.

Does this action signify that it’s past due time to leave the Middle East?