There is a debate about should we have left Afghanistan, or should we have stayed and all fingers are pointed at President Biden because he COMPLETED leaving Afghanistan. Some say he was right, and some say he was wrong. The agreement to pullout was agreed upon a couple of years before he came into office, and he could not stop it. Then there are those that compare leaving Afghanistan to the way we left Viet Nam, which, in a way, is true. Also, there are some that compare how Viet Nam was and lives lost to the war in Afghanistan. Not true. The majority that are saying this were not born at the time.
During the time of Viet Nam there was a draft that all eligible American males had to register for. They even alluded all branches of the military was involved in the draft. Wrong, the air force did not participate in the draft. The air force never drafted except when it was a part of the army which was called the Army Air Corp.
We got into Viet Nam the same way we got into Afghanistan. The French were there and left the country. Next came the American advisors to teach the people how to fight, etc. When things started to go bad, America started sending in ground personnel and air support. Years later we, like the French, pulled out of the country. In Afghanistan and Viet Nam, there was a warning about the pullout and the Vietnamese that wanted to go left the country. But, in Afghanistan, most waited until it was too late.
Let us not forget the American men and women that died. There is no comparison. There was a couple thousand that died in Afghanistan (Americans yelled long and hard about that) compared to a couple hundred thousand that died in Viet Nam (I do not have the exact number, but most Americans rarely spoke about the lives lost). I was air force, and I was among the first waves of American troops going to Viet Nam. I remember, every base was either mortared or attempted to be over run or both by enemy forces. Everyone wondered if the next mortar round or next bullet would have their name on it and they would go home in a casket, so many thousands did. That is a big difference in the two wars.
Another big difference is upon returning home because the Viet Nam veterans were hated by the American populace. I still remember returning home, in 1966, I landed at Travis, AFB, California and had to change into civilian clothes, before leaving base to catch a plane to my next base, for fear of being cat called, spit on, or assaulted. I then hoped my haircut did not give me away.
As far as leaving the country’s people behind (news media also), there was ample time to leave because for a long time it was known that the American forces were leaving. There was more than enough time to get out. Those that waited until the last minute and found themselves stuck want to put the onus on someone else and want someone to risk their life to save theirs. This have happened in every conflict and, rest assured, it will happen again because we do not learn from history.
There is much more between the differences of the two wars, I have only lightly touched of a few points. To get into the political points would take one or two more blogs. It is a very complicated subject, and it would ruffle a lot of feathers. I was there, on the ground in Viet Nam and Thailand (which some people do not know was a part of the Viet Nam war), I was not a draft dodger, but I did dodge the bullets and mortars and made it home. I was not in Afghanistan, but I read enough and watched enough news reels to know the difference.