August 18, 2021

Much has been made of the similarities between what we’ve witnessed in Kabul, Afghanistan and the fall of Saigon in 1975.  These comparisons are entirely appropriate, to be sure. Like the South Vietnamese in 1975, any Afghans who placed their trust in the ally-ship and promises of the United States very likely await torture and death at the hands of the murderous scourge which had been held at bay by American resolve and military might.  It is only the absolute certainty of such a horrific fate that led South Vietnamese would-be refugees to cling to boats and helicopters as the Americans evacuated, just as Afghans clung for dear life to departing American airplanes.

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The similarities are obvious.  What may not be so obvious to some, though, is the contrast between the America that I’ve known all my life and what the events in Kabul signify that America has become.

My America was different than my parents’ America, you see. 

My father left home at a young age to fight the communists, in defense of South Vietnam.  His treatment by his countrymen upon his return was the most shameful violation of the public trust imaginable, and that internal stain upon our national soul was rivaled only by the global stain of our complete abandonment of the promises made to our allies in South Vietnam.

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In the Carter years leading up to 1980, America was in a state of economic stagnation and social malaise, while American credibility and its resolve to protect its national interests in the face of the communist threat on the global stage was little more than a punchline to an old joke in the eyes of our many enemies abroad.

That changed with the election of Ronald Reagan. 

On Nov. 4, 1979, militant Iranian “students” attacked and seized the American embassy in Tehran.  For the next 444 days, 52 Americans were held hostage by the denizens of Ayatollah Khomeini.  President Carter ordered a disastrous rescue mission in which eight Americans were killed without having made any rescues, and diplomatic efforts were equally fruitless.