The situation in Afghanistan continues to be febrile, with the Taliban taking over the capital city of Kabul, all but ensuring the nation is theirs. Harrowing images of people desperately trying to be evacuated abound. Who’s to blame? People are pointing fingers everywhere, even those whose hands are dirty. One of them is Donald J. Trump, who absolutely deserves part of the blame. (Then again, he’s also been praising the Taliban.) But he’s been trying to pass the buck anyway, albeit in his usual clumsy way.
On Tuesday, the former president fired off one of his cryptic and chaotically written press statements, revealing his latest take on the tragedy happening on the other side of the globe. It was a mere six words, plus two em dashes: “This could be—Afghanistan—another Dunkirk.”
Ignore, if you can, the sloppy syntax. Did he not realize he could do a second draft and replace “This” with “Afghanistan,” making it not only one word shorter but also clearer? There was a more pressing matter, though, and it was this: He seemed to imply that Afghanistan, where the situation looks dire, could turn into another Dunkirk, which is to say the World War II battle that turned into a mass rescue operation.
But…did he mean that the evacuation of Dunkirk, which saw hundreds of thousands of Allied troops rescued from the French port by all manner of crafts, was not a huge success? Because it was. There was even a very popular movie about it, from a very popular film director, released early into his presidency.
Of course, Trump could have meant this as a rallying cry — that nations and peoples could come together to help evacuate people from Afghanistan, just like in Dunkirk 81 years ago. But that’s not Trump’s style. Trump’s style is belligerence and ridicule and pumping himself up above all, even if it’s upon a hill of lies.
And so people online, as they so often do, dragged Trump for saying something that was either not so smart or so poorly worded that it made him look like an idiot.
Former President does not appear to understand that the evacuation of Dunkirk was considered to be a huge success. pic.twitter.com/gAgkdRres9
— Andrew Feinberg (@AndrewFeinberg) August 18, 2021
The former president doesn’t seem to understand that the evacuation of Dunkirk is one of the British’s finest hours of the 20th century. pic.twitter.com/FBzFEUTSgx
— Matt Soffer 😷💉💉 (@matthewsoffer) August 18, 2021
Anyone with an IQ over the sea level who has 5th grade level history knowledge would know how dumb this is. The Dunkirk rescue operation was a huge success.
But..if you were a fervent Nazi/Nazi supporter, you would see it as a failure. So this now makes perfect sense…. pic.twitter.com/flzInUAFD3
— Spiro Agnew’s Ghost (@SpiroAgnewGhost) August 18, 2021
Maybe his advisers are confused.
I'm speechless. I accept Trump is an unlearned idiot, but does he have NO ONE near him who has read a book or knows anything about history? Dunkirk was one of the greatest rescue missions of all time. Or…is that what he meant? Couldn't be. What an idiot. You too, @realLizUSA https://t.co/C4lZTkFfXV
— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) August 18, 2021
Dunkirk is generally considered to be one of the greatest withdrawal missions — if not the very greatest — in the history of warfare.
Trump needs to fire whoever told him to call Afghanistan another Dunkirk. That wasn’t exactly an insult. Far from it.
— Tristan Snell (@TristanSnell) August 18, 2021
Trump wasn’t the only one in the party he’s called home for the last decade or so to confuse the Dunkirk evacuation with a failure, which, again, it was certainly not.
Show me you know absolutely nothing about Dunkirk and Churchill without explicitly stating you know absolutely nothing about Dunkirk and Churchill https://t.co/htOg7ULrYT
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) August 16, 2021
If it’s a history lesson Trump needs, then Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk currently streams on HBO Max.