CNN anchor Jake Tapper confronted Secretary of State Antony Blinken Sunday over the imminent collapse of Afghanistan, grilling the top American diplomat over comparisons to America's humiliating evacuation from Vietnam.
Viral images showed Sunday that American helicopters were evacuating U.S. personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Kabul as Taliban soldiers began seizing control of the Afghan capital city. Comparisons were immediately drawn to the evacuation of American personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Saigon when communist soldiers seized the then-South Vietnam capital city in April 1975.
During an interview on CNN's "State of the Union," Blinken squarely denied that America is experiencing another "Saigon moment."
"With this troop surge to airlift Americans out of Afghanistan, aren't we already in the midst of a Saigon moment?" Tapper asked.
Blinken quickly rejected the comparison, and claimed that America's mission in Afghanistan has been successful.
"No, we're not," Blinken responded. "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 have succeeded in that mission."
"And, in fact, we succeeded a while ago," he added. "And, at the same time, remaining in Afghanistan for another one, five, 10 years is not in the national interest."
Tapper followed up by questioning Blinken whether he thinks "Afghanistan now is going to become a hotbed of terrorism." Blinken responded, "I can't tell you what the Taliban is going to do."
Earlier in the interview, Tapper grilled Blinken over Biden's comments from last month, when he declared that it was "highly unlikely" the Taliban would overrun Afghanistan.
Blinken, however, kept attempting to steer the conversation away from the Biden administration's disastrous withdrawal from Afghanistan.
"You keep changing the subject to whether or not we should be there forever. And I'm not talking about that," Tapper chided Blinken. "I'm talking about whether or not this exit was done properly, taking out all the service members before those Americans and those Afghan translators could get out. That's what I'm talking about. And then you have to send people back in. That's the definition of, 'Oh, we shouldn't have taken those troops out, because now we have to send twice as many back in.'"
What did Tapper say about Biden?
Before interviewing Blinken, Tapper shredded Biden for the disastrous Afghanistan withdrawal, saying, "it seems shocking that President Biden could have been so wrong."
"He was wrong," Tapper said again, later referring to Biden's promises that the Taliban would not overrun the Afghan government.