Kamala Harris to Visit Vietnam Amid Afghanistan Chaos, Comparisons to Fall of Saigon
11:58 GMT 22.08.2021 (Updated: 12:03 GMT 22.08.2021)
Late last month, White House chief spokeswoman Symone Sanders stated that Kamala Harris' Southeast Asia tour, including her visits to Singapore and Vietnam, aims to "strengthen relationships and expand economic support".
Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan greeted US Vice President Kamala Harris upon her arrival in the city-state on Sunday, as part of her tour of Southeast Asia.
The tour, which the White House says is aimed at deepening the nation's "engagement" in the region, will see Harris visit Vietnam's capital Hanoi early next week, among other stopovers.
© REUTERS / CAROLINE CHIAU.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is greeted by Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his delegation, as she arrived at Paya Lebar Air Base in Singapore August 22, 2021
U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is greeted by Singapore Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan and his delegation, as she arrived at Paya Lebar Air Base in Singapore August 22, 2021
The Washington Post earlier reported that the VP had no plans to cancel the Vietnam trip, despite the latter coming against the backdrop of the political turmoil in Afghanistan, where the US-backed government collapsed following the Taliban's* rapid offensive, and which culminated in the militant group capturing the capital Kabul.
Some were quick to draw parallels between the current situation in Afghanistan and events related to the capture of Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, by the Southeast Asian country's People's Army on 30 April 1975.
The development marked the end of the Vietnam War (1955-1975), a military conflict between North Vietnam, supported by China and the Soviet Union, and South Vietnam, backed by the US and its allies.
American troops left South Vietnam in 1973, and two years later they announced its fall, with Saigon subsequently renamed Ho Chi Minh City. The fall of Saigon significantly tarnished the country's image as global power in the 1970s, after scenes of scores of Americans and Vietnamese allies being airlifted out of the city grabbed headlines across the globe.
Referring to the US troop exit from Afghanistan, Secretary of State Antony Blinken, however, rejected any comparisons to the American military's pullout from Vietnam.
"This is manifestly not Saigon. We went into Afghanistan 20 years ago with one mission in mind, and that was to deal with the people who attacked us on 9/11, and that mission has been successful", Blinken told ABC News late last week.
The so-called "Saigon moment" regarding events in Afghanistan became a catchy phrase after US President Joe Biden stated last month that the Afghan Army could handle the Taliban.
"The Taliban is not the North Vietnamese army. 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 the embassy of the United States from Afghanistan. It is not at all comparable", POTUS claimed in July.
On 15 August, Taliban militants entered Kabul without a fight, in what apparently upset US intelligence officials who suggested earlier this month that the insurgents may seize the Afghan capital within 90 days.
*The Taliban is a terrorist group banned in Russia and many other countries.