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Politico's Evan Thomas: U.S. a 'Great Giant' That 'Stomped On' Other Countries

On PBS's Inside Washington on Friday, the Politico's Evan Thomas - formerly of Newsweek - characterized the United States as a "great giant" that would go on to "stomp on" other countries after the 9/11 attacks.

After substitute host Mark Shields introduced a segment on the 10th anniversary of the war in Afghanistan by asking how history would "judge" the military operation, he turned to panel member Thomas who responded with a questionable choice of words:

As a tragedy that was inevitable. Once you had 9/11, we, the United States, the great giant United States was going to go stomp on somebody. And they, one of the first places they stomped was Afghanistan. But once they are in we can't get out, and I think we need to get out. But I just think once you go in and we just got stuck there and I see it not so much as anything other than a tragedy, inevitable tragedy.

Fellow panel member and right-leaning columnist Charles Krauthammer took exception with Thomas's word selection and soon responded:

Evan's implication was somehow we wanted to show our manliness in attacking Afghanistan. There wasn't an act of manliness. It was an act of self-defense. Al-Qaeda was active in there, it planned out of there, and we smashed them and we dispersed them.

Below is a transcript of the relevant portion of the Friday, october 7, Inside Washington on PBS:

MARK SHIELDS: That's Army Specialist Anthony Cook from Largo, Florida, explaining his mission in Afghanistan 10 years after U.S. forces entered that troubled country to topple the Taliban. There are now about 90,000 Americans among the 130,000 NATO troops in Afghanistan. They are scheduled to leave by the end of 2014. Evan Thomas, how will history judge this operation?

EVAN THOMAS, POLITICO: As a tragedy that was inevitable. Once you had 9/11, we, the United States, the great giant United States was going to go stomp on somebody. And they, one of the first places they stomped was Afghanistan. But once they are in we can't get out, and I think we need to get out. But I just think once you go in and we just got stuck there and I see it not so much as anything other than a tragedy, inevitable tragedy.

SHIELDS: Charles, how can you nation build a country where you've got 72 percent of Afghans over the age of 16 who are illiterate and the second highest infant mortality rate in the world?

CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER, COLUMNIST: You can't. That's the lesson of the Afghan War. Evan's implication was somehow we wanted to show our manliness in attacking Afghanistan. There wasn't an act of manliness. It was an act of self-defense. Al-Qaeda was active in there, it planned out of there, and we smashed them and we dispersed them. We've had a remarkable success against al-Qaeda. The problem is when you topple a government, you've got to replace it. And we did well in Japan and Germany, in other places. In a place like Afghanistan, there isn't a nation, and in the first couple of years it was quiet until about '05, '06, and then the Taliban had returned. And I would agree, I think it's a question that India ought to look at. I mean, I'm not sure it's our responsibility.



-Brad Wilmouth is a news analyst at the Media Research Center