Vietnam vet, evacuee says Kabul withdrawal makes Saigon seem 'as orderly as' audience exiting an opera

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A US military helicopter is pictured flying near the US embassy in Kabul.
A US military helicopter is pictured flying near the US embassy in Kabul. WAKIL KOHSAR/AFP via Getty Images

Phil Caputo, a Marine Corps Vietnam veteran who was later (while working as a reporter) among the last U.S. evacuees from Saigon ahead of the city's fall to the North Vietnamese army in 1975, is the latest to compare that situation to what's unfolding in Kabul right now.

From Caputo's perspective, there are similarities between the two that "can't be ignored," such as the fact that government and military officials produced "rosy predictions ... that were contradicted by the gloomy facts on the ground." But he actually thinks the current scenario is worse. "Compared to what's happening now in Kabul, the chaotic U.S. exodus from Saigon seems in retrospect to have been as orderly as the exit of an audience from an opera," he writes in an essay, in which he provides a firsthand account of his last days in Saigon, for Politico.

The main reason, he said, is that the evacuation from Saigon "at least had some organization and planning," even though it was "cobbled together on the fly." The Kabul exit, on the other hand, "appears not to have been planned at all," and if it was "the execution has been dismal in the extreme." Read Caputo's full essay at Politico.

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