NBC News chief foreign correspondent Richard Engel this week described the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan after 20 years of military presence in the country as “a very dark moment for the United States.”
Engel said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday while reporting from Qatar that although the evacuation, which got over 100,000 people out of the country, was a success, “many people I’m speaking to say we are far worse off than we were from the beginning because within a few weeks of launching this war, the Taliban were overthrown, al-Qaida was scattered. Now, the U.S. is leaving after 20 years with the Taliban in power and the United States having been driven out. It’s a tremendous legacy.”
He went on to wonder if “we are going to see the next Osama bin Laden,” because of the withdrawal, and added that the Taliban “filled a hole” in Central Asia.
“We are coming to the conclusion with the United States … leaving a legacy behind that I think — some have described it as the worst capitulation of western values in our lifetimes,” he continued. “I went to Afghanistan, I arrived a couple of weeks ago — it was a Republic backed by the United States, backed by the West! Now it’s an emerging Islamic emirate trying to find its way.”
Engel has been a vocal critic of the Afghanistan withdrawal, saying that history will not reflect well on the moment.
“If you’d step back and look at what is going on, this is the United States, after 20 years, this war used to be called Operation Enduring Freedom, and it’s turned out not to be enduring and they’re not leaving a society that is free,” Engel said on MSNBC. “It is only free according to what the Taliban says will be free, the Taliban promises that it will be free.
“You could also look at this as a tremendously humiliating — a moment of American humiliation leaving — forced to leave on the Taliban’s clock and with the Taliban’s good graces. So tactically, it makes sense, but I’m not sure how history — I think history will judge this moment as a very dark period for the United States,” he added.