World Vietnam veteran who earned the Medal of Honor says Afghanistan now looks 'just like' Saigon in 1975
Long weekend becomes 9 week lockdown for AP Vietnam reporter
VUNG TAU, Vietnam (AP) — I wake up as the loudspeaker outside my window starts the community broadcast at 7 a.m. I try to recall the date. Vietnam’s pandemic lockdown has been so long I’ve lost my sense of time. I now count by weeks. This is the ninth I’ve been stuck in Vung Tau, a seaside resort more than 1,500 kilometers (900 miles) from my home in Hanoi. I get out of bed, keeping to my routine of yoga before breakfast. As I roll out the mat, the broadcast gives the latest pandemic news and blares out a propaganda-style song: “Citizens, let’s join forces in this fight so COVID disappears...”___I got to Vung Tau for a long weekend to see my partner in mid-July.
- The Biden administration has rejected comparisons of Afghanistan and Vietnam.
- But a Vietnam veteran who earned the Medal of Honor said the current situation is "just like Vietnam in 1975."
- The Taliban is making rapid gains, pushing the US to evacuate the embassy in Kabul.
The Biden administration has repeatedly rejected comparing the rapidly deteriorating situation in Afghanistan to the chaotic conclusion of the Vietnam War in the mid-1970s.
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But retired Army Col. Jack Jacobs, who received the Medal of Honor for heroism in Vietnam, on Friday told MSNBC's "Katy Tur Reports" that what's happening in Afghanistan "looks just like Vietnam in 1975."
"And what the administration is really hoping to avoid is a reprise of 1979 when in Iran our people in the embassy were captured and incarcerated for 444 days," Jacobs added.
-Katy Tur Reports (@KatyOnMSNBC)
In July, President Joe Biden was adamant that the situation in Afghanistan was nothing like Vietnam.
"The Taliban is not ... 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 a embassy in the - of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable."
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Analysts say there were signs the Afghan military – unmotivated, disorganized and plagued by low morale – would struggle against the Taliban. "They were evident for a long time," said retired Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, a twice-deployed veteran of the war in Afghanistan. "Nobody should be surprised by these outcomes if they had been paying attention." More: A timeline of the US withdrawal and Taliban recapture of Afghanistan Unmotivated to fight for 'corrupt' government The U.S. pumped more than $80 billion in equipment and training into the Afghan security forces since the start of the war in Afghanistan, which the U.S.
As the Taliban rapidly makes gains in Afghanistan and the Afghan military's total defeat increasingly appears to be on the horizon, the US has moved to evacuate most personnel from its embassy in Kabul. The US is sending in roughly 3,000 additional troops to help with the process.
The image of people being evacuated by helicopter from the rooftop of the US Embassy in Saigon in 1975 has been seared into the memory of many Americans as one of the most embarrassing moments for the US in modern history. Critics of Biden's Afghanistan withdrawal have zeroed in on this imagery.
"Unless President Biden adjusts course quickly, the Taliban is on track to secure a significant military victory," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellin a statement on Thursday. "The latest news of a further drawdown at our Embassy and a hasty deployment of military forces seem like preparations for the fall of Kabul. President Biden's decisions have us hurtling toward an even worse sequel to the humiliating fall of Saigon in 1975."
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"If the Taliban returns to power, I along with other women who work in the government will either be stoned to death or executed in public."These memories are invariably the stuff of nightmares.
Video: Former NSC member on Afghanistan: 'What we're seeing is a predictable and tragic collapse' (MSNBC)
Meanwhile, the Biden administration continues to throw cold water on Vietnam parallels.
"We're not focused on the history of the Vietnam war," Pentagon spokesperson John Kirby said on Friday when asked about the parallels between the present chaos in Afghanistan and the fall of Saigon.
But many continue to make comparisons between the two wars, which are both widely viewed as massive failures for the US.
"What we are facing are the optics of mass murder," Matt Zeller, a former CIA analyst,. "Everyone is talking about that image of the helicopter in Saigon, and that is what the Biden administration is most afraid of, and through their own action, they have engendered that moment."
-Dan Lamothe (@DanLamothe)
Caitlin Talmadge, associate professor at Georgetown University's foreign service school, in tweets said that what's transpiring in Afghanistan is "in purely military terms, MUCH more dramatic" than the end of the Vietnam War.
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"The Taliban is significantly outperforming what the North Vietnamese army did,". "Let's remember the North Vietnamese army was a highly skilled, ARMORED force capable of complex, combined arms operations. It was backed by a SUPERPOWER. Taliban is formidable but doesn't have these advantages."
Biden on Tuesday said he does not regret giving the order to withdraw troops and end the longest war in US history.
"Look, we spent over a trillion dollars over 20 years. We trained and equipped with modern equipment over 300,000 Afghan forces," Biden said. "And Afghan leaders have to come together. We lost thousands - lost to death and injury - thousands of American personnel. They've got to fight for themselves, fight for their nation."
Taliban Set to Retake Afghanistan After 20 Years in Shadows .
Taliban leaders marched into Kabul on Sunday, preparing to take full control of Afghanistan two decades after they were removed by the U.S. military. The militant group said it has occupied the presidential palace, and plans to soon declare a new “Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan.” Hours earlier, American-backed President Ashraf Ghani fled the country. The Al Jazeera network broadcast what it said were live images of armed Taliban fighters roaming the presidential palace and posing at desks. Ghani said on his Facebook page that he left Afghanistan to avoid bloodshed.