søndag 22. august 2021

A Reporter Looks Back: The Fall of Saigon and the Takeover of Kabul

Watching chaotic scenes of civilians being evacuated in helicopters from Afghanistan takes me back to the last day of the Vietnam War. It was April 29, 1975 and I was determined to see as much as I could from inside the U.S. Embassy compound in Saigon before boarding a helicopter to leave Vietnam. I had spent nine years on and off covering the war in Vietnam from early 1966 until the spring of 1975.

But I’m no expert on Afghanistan. I visited the country only once and that was only briefly and while the country was still at peace. What I remember best from that time as I wandered around Kabul was seeing women whose head scarves covered everything but their eyes.

In Vietnam I thought that my Vietnamese language teacher would remain safe once the North Vietnamese took control in Saigon. I advised her to stay behind and take care of her mother. She lived a simple life and had no wealth or property that could be seized. I told my Vietnamese interpreter that I could help to get him out of the country. He said that his only property was a small apartment and that he had nothing to fear. But in the end he was beaten up badly by Viet Cong interrogators.