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Richard W. Wise, Author's Blog

A Matter of Optics: Kabul Looks a lot Like 1975 Saigon, but it’s a whole lot worse.

The last helocopter to leave the American Embassy in Saigon, April 30, 1975

The optics of the U. S. pullout of Afghanistan looks a lot like Saigon in 1975. According to White House spokesman, Jake Sullivan, speaking on this Sunday's Meet the Press, we have evacuated 30,000 Afghanis since the airlift began in mid-June, 25,000 of those in the past two weeks. 
 
In a May 1975 article in the New York Times, President Ford discussed resettlement of 120,000 Vietnamese who had been brought to the U. S. as part of the American pullout. The images of helicopters airlifting diplomats and Vietnamese nationals off the roof of the American embassy on April 30th 1975 was dramatic, but by the following month we had taken in many more as part of Vietnamese resettlement effort.  Obviously, this all must have begun months prior.

 

To be fair, the optics are somewhat misleading. Many of the those desperate people crowding the Kabul airport and hanging off of planes are not the people we should be concerned with anymore than were those surrounding our Saigon embassy. 

 

More than 300,000 Afghan civilians have been affiliated with the American mission over its two-decade presence in the country, according to the International Rescue Committee. This doesn't count families, though not all of them qualify for resettlement, plenty do or should. About 60,000 have been resettled thus far.

 

Although, the buck stops with Biden, I can't imagine the chaos that would have ensued had Trump been reelected and stuck with his May timeline, but that is no excuse.  Biden, not Trump is our president. Pentagon planners knew Biden would order troops out since the day he announced his run for the presidency. Where were the planners? Why was there no contingency plan in place? How will we save these people?

 

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