This striking photo was taken as the US rushed to evacuate its embassy in Kabul, which some critics are calling Biden’s ‘Saigon moment’

A U.S. Chinook helicopter flies near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021.
A U.S. Chinook helicopter flies near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. Helicopters are landing at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul as diplomatic vehicles leave the compound amid the Taliban advanced on the Afghan capital.
  • Photos from amid the evacuation of the US embassy in Kabul echo the US withdrawal from Vietnam.
  • The Taliban has swept across Afghanistan and entered the capital city on Sunday.
  • Some are calling the race to evacuate US personnel, as well as partners, Biden's "Saigon moment."
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

As the Afghan government crumbled and the Taliban offensive that swept across the country reached Kabul, an Associated Press photographer captured photos of a US military helicopter flying by the US embassy, where a hasty evacuation effort was underway.

A U.S. Chinook helicopter flies near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. Helicopters are landing at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul as diplomatic vehicles leave the compound amid the Taliban advanced on the Afghan capital.
A U.S. Chinook helicopter flies near the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, Sunday, Aug. 15, 2021. Helicopters are landing at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul as diplomatic vehicles leave the compound amid the Taliban advanced on the Afghan capital.

For some observers watching developments in Afghanistan, the images echoed scenes from the fall of Saigon at the end of the Vietnam War.

Such scenes include the photo of a CIA employee helping Vietnamese partners gathered on the roof of a building near the US embassy in Saigon onto an Air America helicopter and the photos of last-minute evacuations at the US embassy as North Vietnamese forces quickly overran the South Vietnamese capital.

In this April 29, 1975 file photo, a helicopter lifts off from the U.S. embassy in Saigon, Vietnam during last minute evacuation of authorized personnel and civilians.
In this April 29, 1975 file photo, a helicopter lifts off from the U.S. embassy in Saigon, Vietnam during last minute evacuation of authorized personnel and civilians.

Photos like these came to symbolize America's failings in Vietnam. It remains to be seen if this will prove true for the images coming out of Kabul.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken dismissed comparisons to the end of the Vietnam War Sunday on ABC's "This Week," saying, "This is manifestly not Saigon."

After launching an aggressive nationwide offensive, the Taliban have routed Afghan forces, seizing city after city and erasing gains won at great cost by Afghan soldiers and NATO troops over the past two decades. The insurgent forces entered the capital on Sunday.

In early July, President Joe Biden argued for a withdrawal negotiated under the previous administration, stating in a press briefing that "the likelihood there's going to be the Taliban overrunning everything and owning the whole country is highly unlikely."

Biden also told reporters that the world would not see a situation similar to the chaos that was seen in Vietnam, saying "there's going to be no circumstance where you see people being lifted off the roof of a embassy."

The US currently has roughly 5,000 troops, which were rushed back into Afghanistan, on the ground in Kabul as the military moves to evacuate US diplomatic personnel, as well as local partners. American embassy operations have been moved to the local airport, where evacuations are ongoing.

"We are working to make sure that our personnel are safe and secure," Blinken said Sunday. "We're relocating the men and women of our embassy to a location at the airport. It's why the president sent in a number of forces, to make sure that as we continue to draw down our diplomatic presence we do it in a safe and orderly fashion."

Retired Army Col. Jack Jacobs, who received the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Vietnam, told MSNBC on Friday that the situation in Afghanistan "looks just like Vietnam in 1975."

House Minority Whip Steve Scalise, a Republican from Louisiana, called the events unfolding in Kabul "President Biden's Saigon moment," according to The Hill.

"It's a very dire situation when you see the United States Embassy being evacuated," he said Sunday on CBS' "Face the Nation."

"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," Scalise said. "This is President Biden's Saigon moment and unfortunately it was very predictable."

In a statement Sunday, Sen. Jim Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma and the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, slammed the president, saying "President Biden owns this mess - the blood is on his hands. He had a choice."

The senator described the US activities in Afghanistan as a "chaotic retreat," a "disgraceful exit that will cap off a total failure."

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