The Project host Waleed Aly is well known for his ability to silence critics through his well-worded monologues on the popular news program.
But the seasoned panellist may have met his match on Monday night, during a slightly awkward exchange of knowledge with guest Nicholas Burns, a former US Ambassador to NATO.
Battle of the brains
The stand-off was triggered by a difference of opinion between the well-read pair, specifically when it came to America’s history of ‘abandoning allies’ in the immediate aftermath of conflict.
This was in particular reference to the US’ recent decision to withdraw troops from Syria, leaving Kurdish allies to manage the region alone post-ISIS, something Waleed argued was not an isolated incident.
“Forgive me, but that makes it seem like the United States has never abandoned allies before?” he quipped to the ex-diplomat.
“That does happen in US foreign policy, we saw it in Iraq when people were encouraged to rise up against Saddam Hussein and they didn’t... sorry they did... and then America wasn’t there to support them.
“We saw it in South Vietnam, I don’t think Trump’s unique in this regard, is he?” Waleed asked.
‘We’ve never claimed to be perfect’
However, Professor Burns - who also teaches international politics at Harvard - was quick to rebut this point of view, telling the host - who holds a Phd in global terrorism - they didn’t see eye to eye on the matter.
“You know, we’re not perfect, we’ve never claimed to be perfect but we’re pretty good at standing up for our allies, at NATO we stood for all of our allies for 50 years of a Cold War,” he said.
“We don’t have a track record of abandoning allies. We left the Vietnam war after 13 years....[ the war was] a major mistake, a long time ago.
“But I disagree with your characterisation of who we are and how we operate.”
After the impassioned back and forth, the chat eventually moved forward with Professor Burns offering his advice on other facets of American politics.
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