Speed Reads


John Oliver autopsies America's long, predictable Afghan failure. Bill Maher sympathizes with Biden's dilemma.

We all knew the end of the Afghanistan War would be ugly, "the only question was: How ugly?" John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight. "Well, this week, we got our answer." And from former President George W. Bush's 2001 invasion to President Biden's chaotic withdrawal amid defeat, the U.S. followed "a pattern so universally known, it was literally a plot point in Rambo III."

"Clearly we don't have time to recap the last 20 years of America's involvement in Afghanistan," Oliver said, but it's "worth trying to answer a few basic questions: Why were we in Afghanistan in the first place, what did we do while we were there, and what are we doing right now?" His answers were basically that the U.S. invaded for its own self-interest, built a corrupt and unsustainable government and military, and is leaving for its own self-interest, abandoning Afghan women and others who believed the U.S. would protect them from the Taliban. 

"But here is where it gets really hard: What was the answer here?" Oliver asked. "To stay indefinitely? It is very hard to make a good case for that, especially given the Taliban have been strengthening in recent years and have made it clear that they were going to escalate violence unless we left, which most people agree we had to do." He slammed former President Donald Trump's cut-and-run 2020 peace treaty with the Taliban, the Fox News "racial panic goblins" demonizing the Afghan refugees America is now obliged to take in, and Biden's "failure to plan" for an orderly exit and "continued indifference to the lives of anyone who's not American."

"The chaos this week is already a stain on Biden's legacy," Oliver said, "The only question is how big does he want that stain to be?"

"Honestly, I feel bad for Biden," Bill Maher said on Friday's Real Time. "Because for years, the Democrats, the liberals, were like, 'We gotta get out of there, got to get out of Afghanistan.' And then Trump comes into office, he's like, 'We're getting out. I think we should get out, too.' He made the deal! So Biden gets into office, he's like, 'Well, everybody seems to agree on this one, let's get out.' 'F--- you, monster! I want your resignation tomorrow!' Trump wanted to meet the Taliban at Camp David — that's true! Say what you want about Obama's birthday party, the Taliban wasn't there."