Fifty years ago today, the Nixon administration ended the United States’ role in the Vietnam War. Many references were made to the American withdrawal from Vietnam when the Biden administration withdrew from Afghanistan.
Too few consumers of these comparisons understood where that analogy broke down. Reporters in 2021 compared images of an airlift from Kabul with helicopters landing on the roof of the U.S. embassy in Saigon in April 1975. But that was just the evacuation of civilians from the capital of South Vietnam. The final withdrawal of American combatants from Vietnam was completed in January 1973, more than two years earlier. When the Nixon administration ended our role in that Southeast Asian war, a stable Vietnamese government remained to fight on. In contrast, when the Biden administration tried to execute a withdrawal from South Asia, the government of Afghanistan collapsed before a full troop withdrawal could be completed. That’s a big difference.
Eric Shierman lives in Salem and is the author of We were winning when I was there.