Biden’s ‘fall of Saigon’ in Afghanistan presents worst moment yet of presidency
The day was July 8. The topic: President Biden announced a timeline for a drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, with the military mission of two decades ending on Aug. 31.
After making his remarks, the president fielded this question: “Mr. President, some Vietnamese veterans see echoes of their experience in this withdrawal in Afghanistan. Do you see any parallels between this withdrawal and what happened in Vietnam?”
“None whatsoever,” Biden replied. “Zero. What you had is you had entire brigades breaking through the gates of our embassy — six, if I’m not mistaken. The Taliban is not the South — the North Vietnamese army. They’re not — they’re not remotely comparable in terms of capability. There’s going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy in the — of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable.”
Fast forward one month, and the outcome is already a disaster, with the worst yet to come in Afghanistan. The Taliban has seized city after city and province after province with little resistance, and on Sunday has completely taken over the country, including in stunningly rapid fashion the capital city of Kabul, per multiple reports. Consequently, the U.S. embassy is rapidly being evacuated via helicopter.
“What is abnormal is the scale of American helicopters circulating around the area of the embassy. I have not seen anything like this in 20 years, in terms of the volume,” @npwcnn reports from Kabul. pic.twitter.com/M46RUmEMqX
— Kaitlan Collins (@kaitlancollins) August 15, 2021
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — Afghan official tells AP that Taliban negotiators heading to presidential palace to prepare for a ‘transfer’ of power.
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) August 15, 2021
The #Taliban not only seized appr. a hundred US humvees and (MaxxPro) MRAPs at Kunduz airport, but also several US ScanEagle drones.
Billions of US tax payer $ going to Islamist extremists, thanks to the administration’s hasty withdrawal without a peace deal or follow up mission. pic.twitter.com/Fb5MTpdLKK
— Julian Röpcke (@JulianRoepcke) August 12, 2021
In the past week, comparisons to the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War in 1975 — which included the chaotic evacuation of the U.S. Embassy as communist forces took over the South Vietnamese capital — have gained steam in headlines and on social media. And this isn’t a “conservative pounce” moment, either. Team Biden is getting hit from the right, the left and everywhere in between for its miscalculation that the Taliban could be reasoned with and would not immediately proceed to take back the country, including the capital city of Kabul.
Joe Biden has been in Washington for so long that as a US senator, he voted for the policies that led to the fall of Saigon. pic.twitter.com/RTXgSCZ3TK
— J Michael Waller (@JMichaelWaller) August 12, 2021
From former Clinton Labor Secretary Robert Reich:
Anyone else notice that Kabul is starting to resemble Saigon in April 1975?
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) August 13, 2021
From Politico’s Playbook:
The situation in Afghanistan is getting uglier with each day in the run-up to the U.S. withdrawal — and so is the political fallout for President JOE BIDEN.
The latest in Playbook: https://t.co/c3p4vGxV7x
— POLITICO Playbook (@playbookdc) August 13, 2021
From the New York Post:
— New York Post (@nypost) August 13, 2021
And from The New York Times:
The politics of Biden’s withdrawal from Afghanistan have become more complicated as the Taliban swiftly takes over the country. “Everybody’s worried about a repeat of the Saigon images.” @michaelcrowley https://t.co/duS1UPQCcO
— Peter Baker (@peterbakernyt) August 12, 2021
The administration is being hammered by military analysts on TV, too, for poor planning and timing of the U.S. drawdown. The question is the same: Why did Biden announce the departure of U.S. military personnel at the onset of the fighting season instead of completing the process in the dead of winter, when the Taliban retreat to their bases in neighboring Pakistan?
For its part, Biden’s State Department is calling on Afghans to unite, which is laughable against the backdrop of the Taliban conquering major cities on their way to eventually taking Kabul. Such an organization, given its history, has no interest in unity, particularly when having the upper hand militarily. For the Afghan people, particularly women, hell on earth will be their future.
Pentagon spokesperson says U.S. is “certainly concerned” by rapid Taliban advances in Afghanistan, but says “this is a moment for the Afghans to unite.”
“No outcome has to be inevitable.”
— ABC News (@ABC) August 13, 2021
This also is a time when the plan to keep the president away from reporters and public appearances, in an effort to shield him from any unforced oratorical errors, reflects poorly on him. Instead of leading and defending his actions, he’s treating this moment like the 2020 campaign: out of sight, out of mind.
Pres. Biden has yet to comment on new troop deployment and reduced embassy staff. https://t.co/NyiQW7dGFX
— ABC News Politics (@ABCPolitics) August 13, 2021
The numbers are the numbers:
- A whopping 86 percent of Americans are “extremely concerned” about inflation, according to a Fox News poll.
- Almost 8 in 10 (78 percent) of voters say they believe violent crime is a “major problem” in the U.S., according to a Morning Consult poll.
- Just 33 percent approve of Biden’s handling of the border, according to an ABC News-Washington Post poll.
Now the president has a fourth front to defend: Afghanistan, a country that is about to be governed by a terrorist organization that will not hesitate to harbor the likes of ISIS and al Qaeda again.
It’s the ’70s all over again, except things overall are actually worse. But unlike with Vietnam after the fall of Saigon, the U.S. may be forced to send our troops back in if al Qaeda 2.0 can reorganize in the Taliban’s Afghanistan and carry out another devastating attack on the homeland.
Joe Concha is a media and politics columnist for The Hill.