On Monday’s episode of The Late Show, Stephen Colbert ripped off “the Band-Aid”, dedicating his entire opening monologue to the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan, and the United States’ withdrawal from the country.
“The U.S. has been there for 20 years. We spent $2 trillion. We trained a 300,000-man strong Afghan army, and the Taliban took it over in 10 days,” the late-night host summarized. “The country is in complete chaos.”
Colbert then cut to a photograph of a military helicopter evacuating Kabul, which has drawn comparisons to one of U.S. military personnel making their exit during the Fall of Saigon.
“Not a flattering comparison,” he observed. “You never want to see this [Yelp] review: The food was excellent, and the line up to the salad bar was like the Fall of Saigon.”
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Colbert noted that President Biden has been getting a lot of criticism over his handling of the withdrawal, “because he’s the President.” He then cut to a clip in which ABC’s Martha Raddatz referred to a “massive intelligence failure” on the part of the U.S.
“That’s got to sting,” he said, “when people describe your foreign policy the same way they describe Ron DeSantis.”
Ultimately, he had to agree in part with Raddatz, saying that “it’s hard to argue that the White House didn’t shank the withdrawal.”
He cited as evidence a clip from a July 8 press conference, during which Biden said “the likelihood there’s going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely.”
“Wow,” Colbert responded. “That is the most inaccurate prediction from a president since Abraham Lincoln said, ‘See you after the play.’”
Still, the host seemed to agree with various aspects of Biden’s speech today, in which he said, “American troops cannot and should not be fighting in a war and dying in a war that Afghan forces are not willing to fight for themselves.” (The Taliban regained control of Afghanistan as President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, and the country’s government collapsed.)
“He’s right. Why should our soldiers be fighting radicals in a civil war in Afghanistan? We’ve got our own on Capitol Hill,” Colbert said. “What’s happening now is the responsibility of both parties, and the American people who voted them into office.”
The host also touched on Biden’s points that we, as a country, did everything we could for the Afghans, and that the Taliban would have taken over Afghanistan, regardless of the timing of U.S. withdrawal.
“Maybe Biden’s right. Maybe there was no good alternative. Were we never supposed to leave? Make Afghanistan the 51st state?” he wondered. “In the end, you can make us accept that there was no good alternative, but you can’t make us feel good about it. The only people who can feel good about this are the service members and their families who aren’t going to see soldiers sent into harm’s way for no reason that the commander-in-chief of either party can articulate.”
Colbert closed out his monologue by noting that each presidential administration over the past 20 years has told the American people “to care about the plight” of the Afghan people, and the country’s women, in particular.
“We did care, and that’s not going to change. All that’s changed is that there’s nothing we can do about it now,” he said. “So pulling out might be the right thing to do, but it’s heartbreaking, it’s humbling, when the right thing feels so wrong.”
Check out Colbert’s monologue above.