Blinken on Afghanistan: ‘This is not Saigon’
Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday asserted that the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan “is not Saigon” as a Taliban takeover of the country now appears to be all but inevitable.
While appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” host Jake Tapper asked Blinken if the Biden administration wasn’t already in a “Saigon moment,” referring to the hasty evacuation of remaining U.S. troops from Vietnam when the city of Saigon fell two years after former President Nixon withdrew the majority of American forces in the country.
“No we’re not,” Blinken said. “Remember, this is not Saigon. We went to Afghanistan 20 years ago with one mission, and that mission was to deal with the folks who attacked us on 9/11 and we have succeeded in that mission.”
“The objective that we set: bringing those who attacked us to justice, making sure that they couldn’t attack us again from Afghanistan — we’ve succeeded in that mission, and in fact we succeeded a while ago. And at the same time, remaining in Afghanistan for another one, five, 10 years is not in the national interest,” he added.
On Sunday morning it was reported that the Taliban had entered Kabul and sent negotiators to the presidential palace to discuss a peaceful transfer of power. Just hours later, it was reported that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had fled the country, according to The Associated Press.
Tapper asked Blinken if he believed that Afghanistan would now become a “hotbed of terrorism” with the speedy ascension of the Taliban.
“Jake we have tremendously more capacity than we had before 9/11 when it comes to counterterrorism in places around the world where we don’t have forces on the ground. In Yemen, in parts of Africa, in parts of Syria we were able to deal with any potential terrorist threat to our country, and we’re doing that every single day,” Blinken said.
“And look, I can’t tell you what the Taliban is going to do, but again, in their self interest, allowing a repeat of what happened before 9/11 — which is a terrorist group to reemerge in Afghanistan that has designs on United States — well they know what happened last time so I don’t think it’s in their self interest to allow that to happen again,” he added.