Republican Congressman Steve Scalise has said the likely fall of Kabul to the Taliban is US President Joe Biden’s “Saigon moment,” calling it an “an epic failure of President Biden's foreign policy.”
Scalise was referring to the hasty evacuation of remaining US troops from Vietnam when the city of Saigon fell two years after former American President Richard Nixon withdrew American forces from the country.
The US House of Representatives Minority Whip made the remarks in an interview with CBS News on Sunday, where he also said Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin had briefed members of the House of the situation in Afghanistan.
However, the Louisiana Republican said certain things could not be discussed due to the real-time nature of events as they unfolded in Afghanistan.
"It's a very dire situation when you see the United States Embassy being evacuated. In fact, you just had President Biden a few days ago saying you wouldn't see helicopters evacuating the embassy like Saigon, and yet here we are. This is this is President Biden's Saigon moment and unfortunately it was very predictable," Scalise said.
"It seems like many in President Biden's intelligence community got this devastatingly wrong and I think a lot of questions will be asked later about why just weeks ago they were saying something completely different than what we're seeing on the ground today and in Afghanistan," he added.
Biden has appeared to put some blame on former Republican President Donald Trump who had reached an agreement with the Taliban to withdraw American troops prior to leaving office.
Commenting on this, Scalise said, “You're seeing a lot of finger-pointing and blaming ... You know, there used to be a saying that the buck stops here on the president's desk to blame everybody else. But look, President Trump had an agreement in place, that was conditions-based and those conditions were not met in fact many of the conditions included that the Taliban wouldn't overtake the cities that they have now overtaken under President Biden's leadership.”
Scalise said the ease with which the Taliban was able to overtake much of Afghanistan is “an epic failure of President Biden's foreign policy.”
Blinken: 'This is not Saigon'
Meanwhile, Blinken on Sunday claimed that the deteriorating situation in Afghanistan "is not Saigon.”
Blinken was asked whether the Biden administration was already in a "Saigon moment.” He said, "No we're not. Remember, this is not Saigon. We went to Afghanistan 20 years ago with one mission, and that mission was to deal with the folks who attacked us on 9/11 and we have succeeded in that mission."
"The objective that we set: bringing those who attacked us to justice, making sure that they couldn't attack us again from Afghanistan — we've succeeded in that mission, and in fact we succeeded a while ago. And at the same time, remaining in Afghanistan for another one, five, 10 years is not in the national interest," he added.
‘Entire Afghan war a Saigon moment’
American journalist Don Debar told Press TV that “this entire war, since Jimmy Carter started it (using George Bush, the first's CIA and Donald Rumsfeld's military intelligence) and George Bush II deployed regulars, through the Obama-Trump and now the Biden administration's time, has been a ‘Saigon moment’”
The United States is removing all of its staff from the embassy in Kabul in the next 72 hours and closing the embassy.
American sources who are privy to the matter told CNN on Sunday the embassy's staff will go to the Kabul airport to travel back to the United States as the Taliban close in on Kabul.
The sources added that only a small number of the staff will stay at the Kabul airport. This means that the Americanembassy in Afghanistan would be closed by Tuesday.
US diplomats were evacuated from the embassy by chopper after a lightning advance by the Taliban militants, who entered Kabul on Sunday and said they expected to take power within days.
The Taliban are reportedly poised to run Afghanistan again 20 years after they were removed from power by American forces following the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the United States.
The US invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 and removed the Taliban from power. American forces occupied the country for about 20 years on the pretext of fighting against the Taliban. But as the US forces are leaving Afghanistan, the Taliban are set to invade Kabul, weakened by foreign occupation.