GOP congressman walks back remarks on using nuclear weapons in Gaza

Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) clarified Sunday that his comments that Gaza should be “like Hiroshima and Nagasaki” were not literal, backing off remarks that many interpreted to be endorsing the use of nuclear weapons.

Walberg made the comments at a town hall meeting with constituents last week, with a video going viral in recent days. He said that the U.S. “shouldn’t be spending a dime on humanitarian aid” in the Israel-Hamas war and that Gaza “should be like Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Get it over quick. The same should be in Ukraine.”

In a statement Sunday, Walberg said the words were merely a metaphor.

“As a child who grew up in the Cold War era, the last thing I’d advocate for would be the use of nuclear weapons,” he wrote. “In a shortened clip, I used a metaphor to convey the need for both Israel and Ukraine to win their wars as swiftly as possible, without putting American troops in harms way.

“My reasoning was the exact opposite of what is being reported: The quicker these wars end, the fewer innocent lives will be caught in the crossfire,” he continued. “The sooner Hamas and Russia surrender, the easier it will be to move forward. The use of this metaphor, along with the removal of context, distorted my message, but I fully stand by our allies.”

The nuclear bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, that ended the Pacific theater of World War II killed between 130,000 and 230,000 people, according to differing academic estimates. Modern nuclear weapons are about 80 times more powerful than the 1940s bombs.

The comments come as the humanitarian crisis in Gaza worsens. More than 34,000 Palestinians have died in the conflict, with nearly the entirety of the 2.3 million people in Gaza displaced from their homes. Tens of thousands face famine, according to the United Nations, as the Israeli government continues to limit humanitarian aid coming into Gaza, despite pleas from the Biden administration and other foreign governments.

The Biden administration has continuously pushed the Israeli government to allow more aid into Gaza, with the U.N. Security Council going a step further and urging a full cease-fire in the conflict last week. The U.S. abstained from the cease-fire vote, widening a rift between the Biden administration and the Israeli government.

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