John Oliver began his latest edition of Last Week Tonight by giving ousted Jeopardy! host Mike Richards a kick on his way out the door. Yet he had another boot still handy, and he used it tackle the unfolding Afghanistan disaster, following Biden’s decision to follow through on a Trump administration deal and remove all U.S. troops, which has led to tragic scenes at the Kabul airport and fear throughout Afghanistan streets after the Taliban seized power in the country. The segment took up the majority of this week’s runtime with Oliver tearing into Biden for the graceless exit, which apparently followed scant planning for the certain bloodshed for those left behind.
“I’m not advocating for staying at all,” Oliver stated. “That i am saying is we’re in the midst of a massive humanitarian crisis… we have a clear obligation to take in Afghans who are now vulnerable.” Interestingly enough, though, Oliver opened up his discussion around the 2:00 minute mark to explain why perhaps the U.S. government should have learned a lesson from a 1988 Sylvester Stallone movie.
“America has joined a long line of countries who came to Afghanistan to serve their own interests only to leave defeated,” the host explained. “It’s a pattern so universally known, it was literally a plot point in Rambo 3.” Oliver then played a scene featuring a discussion between an Afghan and John Rambo:
“This is Afghanistan. Alexander The Great tried to conquer this country, then Genghis Khan, then the British, now Russia. Ancient enemy make prayer about these people. It says, ‘May God deliver us from the venom of the cobra, the teeth of the tiger, and the vengeance of the Afghans.’ Do you understand what this means?”
“That you guys don’t take any sh*t.”
“Yes, something like this.”
From there, Oliver explained (around the 20:00 minute mark) why he’s finds Biden’s “failure to plan” to be “astonishing,” but he’s not surprised at all about the president’s “continued indifference to anyone who’s not American isn’t really surprising.” Oliver then retraced Biden’s statements (from years past) on Afghanistan to illustrate the point, and that led to this conclusion: “The chaos this week is already a stain on Biden’s legacy, the only question is, ‘How big does he want that stain to be?'”
Very clearly and as Oliver points out, Afghanistan will probably be destabilized for many years to come, and Oliver sees that as a reason for America to (finally) examine its behavior toward other countries.
“What can we do about that? Not much now. No amount of brute force or perseverance is going to clear up the clusterf*ck that we helped f*ck into existence. And I realize that’s a quintessentially un-American idea: to acknowledge that we can’t always control something that we want to control or achieve something we want to achieve… the truth is, we can’t. I know that feels futile, but assume we can go into another country and fix something by simply imposing our will is largely what led us to where we are right now.”
And as unlikely as it may have seemed when the War in Afghanistan began, there was a lesson buried inside of Rambo 3.