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Sen. Carper says lessons from Vietnam should have influenced Afghanistan pull out

James Dawson/Delaware Public Media

The last Vietnam veteran in the U.S. Senate sees striking similarities between the pull out from Vietnam and what’s happening in Afghanistan.


As U.S. troops leave Afghanistan and end the longest war in U.S. history, critics are saying not enough was done to ensure allies in the region were protected.


Sen. Tom Carper is the last Vietnam veteran serving in the U.S. Senate.


“When Donald Trump announced about a year ago that we’re gonna reduce our troop presence to 2500 people and eventually to zero, I had visions,” he said. “What I thought about immediately was the end of the Vietnam war and what that looked like.”


Carper says the federal government should have done a better job at anticipating the recapture by the Taliban, particularly because it happened in a similar way when U.S. troops left Vietnam in 1973.


Ultimately, he says the government fell because the motivation and support of the U.S. backed government never fully coalesced.


“And when we look back at Vietnam we saw a time when South Vietnam went down, the communists took over and we thought this was the end of the world — as it turns out it wasn’t,” Carper said. “It was an unpleasant experience, it was a sad experience, and what we did was we tried to save as many lives as we could of people who had helped us in the war to get out of there. We need to have a similar passion for helping the people who worked on our side against the Taliban.”


Carper says now Vietnam is one of America’s biggest trading partners, noting things might seem more heated at the moment than they will be when the dust settles.


He adds the priority should be resettling U.S. allies who spent years helping during the war, and deserve protection as the U.S. leaves.


Roman Battaglia is a corps member withReport for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.

Roman Battaglia grew up in Portland, Ore, and now reports for Delaware Public Media as a Report For America corps member. He focuses on politics, elections and legislation activity at the local, county and state levels.
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