Posted by Curt on 1 September, 2021 at 8:13 am. 4 comments already!


by Alex Christy

Former Time magazine managing editor, former Obama State Department official, and current MSNBC analyst Rick Stengel joined Deadline: White House on Tuesday to react to President Biden’s latest speech on Afghanistan. Stengel predicted that when the history books are written, “people will say, yep, he got us out of there.”
Stengel tried to provide historical analogies for his claim that the previous couple of weeks were a success, “At the risk of seeming like an ivory tower professor, I just want to put the withdrawal in historical context. Here’s a disastrous withdrawal: when the British left Afghanistan in 1842, 4,500 troops left Kabul and one Englishman 11 days later arrived in Jalalabad, that was a disastrous evacuation.”

Of course, airplanes didn’t exist in 1842, meaning British troops had to make their way on foot nearly 93 miles to Jalalabad. That wasn’t Stengel’s only bad analogy, “Here’s another one: When the British left India in 1947, 1948, just pulled out. Over the next few years, two million people died as that country was divided in half. When the French left Algeria in 1962, hundreds of thousands of people died, including thousands and thousands of Frenchmen, and that country is still not healed. Those are disastrous withdrawals.
The British left as a colonial power, not a military ally who left their local allies and own citizens to the whims of a brutal enemy. As for France in Algeria, just because it was not the worst-case scenario, doesn’t mean it was a success, but that didn’t stop Stengel praising Biden for clearing the lowest of bars, “We don’t know what the extent of a truly disastrous withdrawal would have been. The counterfactuals are just immense. I mean I think when this is looked back on, people will say, yep, he got us out of there. A terrible tragedy that 13 American servicemen and women died. We got 100,000 people out.”

For one final analogy, Stengel brought up Saigon, “When we left Vietnam in 1975, you could argue that every member, every member, every citizen of South Vietnam worked for the Americans during that war and we took a few thousand people out. We left while we were being fired upon by the enemy. You know, the country was taken over. So those are disastrous withdrawals. I just wanted to put that in perspective.”
Stengel concluded by unconvincingly claiming, “I’m not exonerating or explaining away what happened. But that’s just some historical perspective.” The truth is the failure to anticipate the Taliban’s rapid advance on Kabul led to a situation where people amassed outside the airport, providing an opportunity for the IS-K suicide bomber to kill 13 American servicemembers and scores of Afghan civilians. Historical analogies, and not very good ones at that, don’t change that.

Video here

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