MSNBC’s Stengel: Drone Fiasco Shows ‘Rightness’ of Biden Afghan Evacuation Policy

On Monday’s Craig Melvin Reports on MSNBC, analyst Richard Stengel claimed that the drone strike that killed ten civilians in Afghanistan confirmed the “rightness” of Biden’s policy of evacuating Afghanistan. 

Melvin asked, “The U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan was already a rough patch for the Biden administration, to say the least, but where does this mistake leave the White House now? How does it fit into the broader story of Afghanistan?” 

Stengel, who was an Undersecretary of State under Obama after many years at Time magazine, replied “Well Craig, I would say it just confirms the rightness and correctness of evacuating from Afghanistan and the difficulties that U.S. soldiers face in that country. I mean, you know, the — even the administration has admitted the intelligence they had about how long the Afghan government would survive and the efficacy and power of the Afghan military, I mean, our intelligence was not great about that either.”

That was bad, but instead of talking about how nobody has been held responsible for those failures, Stengel doubled down on his Correctness argument: “And I think that’s one of the reasons that President Biden has always been a skeptic about American boots on the ground in Afghanistan. And as tragic as it is, and it is absolutely tragic and we should get to the bottom of it, I think it only confirms the correctness of that decision and I think it reminds Americans of just how messy our engagement in Afghanistan was.” 

It is absolutely true that our 20-year experience in Afghanistan could be described as “messy” and the withdrawal was plagued by horrible assessments of the Afghan Army that led to the ISIS-K bombing. But what that has to do with the drone strike and subsequent cover-up and general lack of accountability is something Stengel never addressed. 

This segment was sponsored by Liberty Mutual.

Here is a transcript of the September 20 show:

MSNBC

Craig Melvin Reports

11:34 AM ET

CRAIG MELVIN: It really is such a terrible tragedy on so many levels. Kind of hard to get your head around how something like that could happen. And Rick, I mean, the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan was already a rough patch for the Biden administration to say the least, but where, where does this mistake leave the White House now? How does it fit into the broader story of Afghanistan? 

RICHARD STENGEL: Well Craig, I would say it just confirms the rightness and correctness of evacuating from Afghanistan and the difficulties that U.S. soldiers face in that country. I mean, you know, the — even the administration has admitted the intelligence they had about how long the Afghan government would survive and the efficacy and power of the Afghan military, I mean, our intelligence was not great about that either. 

And I think that’s one of the reasons that President Biden has always been a skeptic about American boots on the ground in Afghanistan, and as tragic as it is, and it is absolutely tragic and we should get to the bottom of it, I think it only confirms the correctness of that decision and I think it reminds Americans of just how messy our engagement in Afghanistan was. 

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