Kabul Disaster Like Fall of Saigon, Democrat Debbie Dingell Says

The Biden administration insisted Sunday that images of helicopters airlifting U.S. embassy personnel out of Kabul cannot be compared to the chaotic American exit from Vietnam in 1975, but even some establishment Democrats aren't buying that narrative.

The U.S. State Department announced Thursday that the military was rushing in 3,000 fresh troops to Kabul to assist American personnel in evacuating Afghanistan a few weeks ahead of the planned end to the 20-year war. Michigan Democratic Representative Debbie Dingell, a staunch ally of the White House, responded to Secretary of State Antony Blinken's repeated line this weekend on cable news that the dramatic departure from the Kabul embassy cannot be compared to the country's desperate evacuation from Saigon, today called Ho Chi Minh City, in 1975.

"It does feel like the fall of Saigon today, I'm not going to lie," Dingell told MSNBC on Sunday morning, echoing critics from both parties who have accused President Joe Biden of rushing out of Afghanistan, capping a war that began weeks after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks two decades ago.

Dingell responded to comments from Blinken, who told ABC News earlier on Sunday morning that the U.S. was conducting a partial evacuation of personnel from the Kabul facility. But he did not directly state whether the U.S. was shutting down its embassy entirely as Taliban forces continue to disperse forces around the embattled country.

Bipartisan lawmakers, journalists and foreign diplomats have posted countless side-by-side images of the infamous U.S. embassy evacuation from Saigon with that of this weekend's departure from Kabul. News wire reports have suggested that many Afghan journalists and locals were blindsided by the sudden departure.

Saigon, US Embassy evacuation, 29 April, 1975.
Kabul, US Embassy evacuation, 15 August, 2021. pic.twitter.com/z1o7LHOXUD

— Kanchan Gupta 🇮🇳 (@KanchanGupta) August 15, 2021

"We're relocating the men and women of our embassy to a location at the airport. It's why the president sent in a number of forces, to make sure that as we continue to draw down our diplomatic presence we do it in a safe and orderly fashion," Blinken told ABC's This Week program Sunday, before being pressed on the similarity to the infamous images of helicopters scrambling to remove U.S. embassy officials out of Saigon two years after the war officially ended in Vietnam.

"Let's take a step back. This is manifestly not Saigon," added Blinken, noting the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 succeeded in the primary objectives of eliminating Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda after the 9/11 attacks.

"That message should ring out very strongly," he reiterated to the ABC News host later in the program.

Some reporters covering the region responded to the White House with scorn for downplaying Vietnam War comparisons.

"Secretary Blinken is correct. The airlift from Saigon did not happen until two years after a peace deal was signed. The evacuation from Kabul is happening with two weeks still left under Biden's own timeline for an end to the mission," tweeted Reuters foreign correspondent Idrees Ali on Sunday.

Newsweek reached out to Dingell's Michigan congressional offices for any additional remarks about the Afghanistan withdrawal Sunday afternoon.

Debbie Dingell
Democratic lawmaker Debbie Dingell, a staunch ally of the Biden administration, said Sunday the Kabul disaster did feel like the fall of Saigon. Above, Dingell is seen in the U.S. Capitol on December 19, 2019 in Washington, D.C. Alex Wong/Getty