'This is not Saigon': US rejects comparisons between its Afghanistan and Vietnam exits

Published August 15, 2021
This combination photo shared by Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari shows Americans being evacuated by helicopters in Vietnam's Saigon in 1975 (left) and Kabul in Afghanistan (right) this week. — Photos courtesy: Shireen Mazari Twitter
This combination photo shared by Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari shows Americans being evacuated by helicopters in Vietnam's Saigon in 1975 (left) and Kabul in Afghanistan (right) this week. — Photos courtesy: Shireen Mazari Twitter

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday rejected widespread comparisons between ongoing American withdrawal from Afghanistan and its hurried exit from Vietnam almost half a century ago.

After the Taliban moved further into the Afghan capital, American diplomats were evacuated from their embassy in the fortified Wazir Akbar Khan district by helicopter to the airport as local Afghan forces, trained for years and equipped by the United States and others for billions of dollars, melted away.

Images of American helicopters shuttling back and forth led some to compare the situation to US's desperate exit from Saigon, Vietnam in 1975.

Back in Washington, when asked if images of helicopters ferrying personnel to Kabul airport were evocative of its retreat from Vietnam, Blinken told ABC News: "Let's take a step back. This is manifestly not Saigon."

Blinken's comments come days after US President Joe Biden had not only rejected any similarities between the two withdrawals but also all but shut the door of any hasty departures.

"There’s going to be no circumstance when you’re going to see people being lifted off the roof of an embassy of the United States from Afghanistan," Biden said in a press conference on Thursday.

The resemblance in both the American exits was widely discussed on social media, with Pakistan's Federal Human Rights Minister Shireen Mazari even sharing a side-by-side picture to make her point.

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