Afghanistan: the specter of Vietnam resurfaces in the United States



Is Afghanistan a New Vietnam? », Wondered the American newspaper USA Today end of July. The comparison to the military slump of the 1970s is compelling in media and social networks, as Taliban forces continue their meteoric rise in the country following the withdrawal of American troops ordered by Joe Biden.

→ ANALYSIS. Taliban capture Kandahar and Herat, Afghanistan on the brink of collapse

Faced with the situation, Washington decided on August 12 to send 3,000 infantry soldiers stationed in the Middle East to Kabul to speed up the evacuation of American embassy employees and Afghan personnel, such as translators and interpreters. , which have assisted international forces for the past twenty years. Some 3,500 other servicemen from North Carolina were sent to Kuwait to lend a hand if needed.

1,400 officials at the American Embassy

Of the approximately 1,400 officials working at the US diplomatic post in Kabul, only one ” core of diplomats Will remain in place, according to the State Department. But the prospect of a complete evacuation is not excluded. On Friday August 13, American diplomats were hard at work to ensure that the Taliban would not attack the embassy if Kabul was taken, suggesting that they could grant material and financial aid to the future government.

Twenty years after the attacks of September 11, the images of the hasty departure from Afghanistan arouse strong emotion in military and diplomatic circles across the Atlantic. According to New York Times, the evacuation of the embassy evokes ” a feeling of depression In Washington, two decades after the building was taken over by the US military. Several conservative media have gone so far as to draw a parallel with the fall of Saigon in 1975, when local American embassy staff and several desperate Vietnamese had to be evacuated from the roof of the building by helicopter.

The strength of the Taliban underestimated

Even if the American intelligence services estimated several months ago that a reconquest of the country by the Taliban was possible, Joe Biden rejected, in early July, the comparison between Afghanistan and the Vietnamese quagmire. ” The Taliban are not the army of North Vietnam. They are not comparable in terms of resources ”, he said. ” Under no circumstances will you see people evacuated from the roof of the United States Embassy in Afghanistan ”, he had even declared a month before.

Joe Biden remembers Saigon well. In 1975 he made his debut on the national political scene, elected senator from Delaware two years earlier. As Vice President in September 2012, he and several current members of his government also remember the terrorist attack on American diplomatic premises in Benghazi (Libya), where United States Ambassador Chris Stevens found the dead.

The weakness of the Afghan army trained by the Americans

Seen as a costly waste of resources, the war in Afghanistan is largely unpopular in the United States. More than 2,300 soldiers have died in what its opponents describe as ” endless conflict “. Stories of Americans returning from the frontlines disabled or suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder have stirred public opinion, especially in veteran communities in the Midwest. To the point where even elected Republican officials, starting with Donald Trump, have supported a troop withdrawal.

→ TO (RE) READ. “Here, we find a breath”: in Toulon, a house to heal the souls of wounded soldiers

Faced with accusations of haste from the Republican Party, Joe Biden said Tuesday, August 10, that he did not regret his decision. The Afghans ” must fight for their country, their nation “. A message relayed by several of his supporters, such as Democrat Chris Murphy, member of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee. ” If twenty years of arduous training of the Afghan security forces has had such little impact on their fighting skills, another fifty years will make no difference. “.

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