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Has Kabul turned out to be another Saigon moment for the USA?

Has Kabul turned out to be another Saigon moment for the USA?

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday defended US President Joe Biden’s decision to pullout of Afghanistan and dismissed critics who were comparing the developments in Kabul to the USA’s setback in Vietnam in 1975 referred to as the “Saigon moment.” 

“This is not Saigon,” said Blinken. The USA has succeeded in its mission to stop attacks on US targets.”

“It’s simply not in our interests to remain in Afghanistan,” he added.

The Taliban are poised to come to take over the reins of power in Afghanistan as their fighters have taken up positions on the outskirts of the city and the US sent helicopters to evacuate diplomats from its embassy.  Afghanistan President Ashraf Ghani has left the country as things have got too hot for him.

“We are watching President Biden’s Saigon moment unfold before us,” said Rep Mike Rodgers, member of the crucial US House Armed Services Committee, and the words are being quoted around the world.

The Republican representative backed up his tweet, asking the Biden administration “where is the plan?”

Biden has been criticised because he had set Sept. 11 — the 20th anniversary of the terror attacks — as the deadline to pull out of Afghanistan. But the Taliban has snubbed him by refusing to wait and have closed in on Kabul. 

Biden’s critics say the comparison with Vietnam is quite valid. The fall of Saigon in April of 1975 exposed America’s chaotic exit. Helicopters lifted a few lucky Vietnamese off the embassy roof and the rest were left to fend for themselves.

President Biden has said the exit from Kabul would be an orderly one, but this does not appear to be the way things are working out.

Blinken said the US embassy staff at Kabul are leaving the city and moving to Kabul International airport, which is a secure zone for exiting Afghanistan.

Blinked said: “The fact of the matter is Afghan forces have been unable to defend the country.”

The US and its NATO allies have spent the last 20 years training and equipping the Afghan security forces. Top US and British generals have claimed to have created a powerful and capable Afghan army that could take on the Taliban. 

But the assessment has fallen flat with the vast chunk of the army refusing to put up a fight and even handing over their weapons to the Taliban to accelerate their blitzkrieg.