NBC's Engel: Maybe Biden should have come to Kabul

AP Photo/Evan Vucci

The reviews on Joe Biden’s reverse-Col. Jessup speech are in and they’re not good — and that’s just here in the US. At the Kabul airport, the reviews are even worse. NBC’s foreign correspondent Richard Engel politely but firmly skewered Biden’s claims, and marveled how Biden could have come to the conclusions he declared.

On the ground, Engel said on Twitter, the world looks a lot different than in Biden’s straw-man universe:

To be fair, Afghanistan as a whole has been little more than tribal footprints with loosely affiliated city-states holding them together. Even with that said, however, the value of those city-states against terrorism was not zero, especially Kabul. Having a stable capital allowed the US better capability for targeting terrorists, even if we weren’t doing much on that recently other than asking the Afghans to try to clean it up.

As far as Biden’s professed priority of defending human rights, Engel looks around and wonders what Biden thinks is happening at the moment:

Engel also didn’t buy Biden’s buck-passing on his pullout, especially to the Afghans. The US made it clear (in two administrations) that we had no interest in fighting, not even in the end to back up the Afghan army we set up. Engel scoffs at the idea that this was anything other than a self-fulfilling prophecy:

Engel’s not the only reporter to throw a flag on Biden’s fouls. Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler rebutted Biden’s claim that the Afghans now rushing the exits didn’t evince any desire to leave earlier. Malarkey, Kessler tweeted:

One has to wonder how long it will take Kessler to line up a few Pinocchios after Biden’s angry defense of the indefensible way in which he managed this withdrawal. As Allahpundit noted, Biden’s attempt to change the subject to the withdrawal itself shows how desperate Biden is to distract from the execution of the US exit. The goal is defensible; the utter lack of preparation for it, even with twelve years of advocating for a retreat, is nothing short of catastrophic incompetence.

Finally, Andrew Kaczynski tosses in one more nugget for Kessler’s Pinocchio allocation:

A lot can happen in 20 years, and it’s perfectly fine to change one’s mind about this. Had Biden said in his speech that the experiences of the war taught him a hard lesson on nation-building, that might have been a unifying moment, even if it wouldn’t have mitigated his incompetence. Instead, as is Biden’s wont, he posed as The Smartest Man in the Room and an infallible font of wisdom in declaring nation-building utter folly. As Engel points out, that’s a comfortable position from the cheap seats at Camp David, but looks a lot different in Kabul today.

Aside: Give Engel and other journalists trapped in Kabul major credit for continuing to report while their lives are in danger. And pray for their safe return as well.