Afghanistan Analogies

Thursday, December 03, 2009

In his speech on Monday night, President Obama directly addressed the analogy between the wars in Vietnam and Afghanistan. John Barry, Newsweek reporter who has written about the comparisons, and Michael Lind, fellow at the New America Foundation and author of Vietnam: The Necessary War: A Reinterpretation of America's Most Disastrous Military Conflict discuss the parallels and differences between the two conflicts.


John Barry

Comments [7]

Eric from B'klyn

I completely agree w the guest who asserted that Obama missed a chance to reframe the pursuit of Al Queda as a criminal cartel and not a war. By the military's own admission there are a couple of hundred Al Queda members in Afghan/Pakistan. I am dubious that $100 Billion plus annually is necessary to deal w a couple of hundred operatives. I think the push to define the 'war' on terror as a war for BUSH/Cheney was always more about the political advantage it provided and that it trigged the Executive's extraordinary war powers under the constitution and the cover for its unstated foreign policy agenda as well as surveillence activities. Professor Gergez at Sarah Lawrence has written that the massive military response played right into Bin Laden's plan to turn the Muslim world against the West.

Dec. 03 2009 10:58 AM

Let's simply stop talking about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in terms of defense. These are wars being fought for economic interests. Defense contractors involved with supplying the military and reconstructing the region that are benefitting from this war. It is an industry. Just like GMC.

Dec. 03 2009 10:44 AM
John from Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Actually, he did not address the question head-on. He compared valid technical differences between Vietnam and Afghanistan, but tap-danced right around the question of Afghanistan being a quagmire.

One that the USSR stepped in with both feet, mind. Lured in by the actions of Jimmy Carter's cabinet specifically to drain the USSRs resources. And now we are falling for the same thing. And yet, at this point it IS a military problem, and the threat IS real (more to the region than us directly, but eventually to everyone).

We need to acknowledge the graveness of the central Asian situation, but also take responsibility for our contributions to the problem long before Fall 2001.

Dec. 03 2009 10:42 AM
Bobby G from East Village

As someone who is old enough to be have been vehemently opposed to the War in Vietnam, the difference now is that there is no clear-cut answer for Afghanistan.
I'm sorry, I can't tell anyone what to do.

We should be glad that we have a president who makes considered decisions.

Dec. 03 2009 10:39 AM
Hugh Sansom from Brooklyn NY

Toward the end of the Carter administration, Zbigniew Brzezinski told Carter "We have given the Soviets their Vietnam" as the Soviets stormed into Afghanistan.

Now we have given ourselves Vietnam ... again.

Most moderate and liberal historians of Vietnam would take issue with John Barry's summation of how we dealt with the Ho Chi Minh trail.

Dec. 03 2009 10:37 AM
mozo from nyc

Obama is sounding more and more like Bush 43.

Dec. 03 2009 10:34 AM

Hm. What would make this analogy work... Well, I guess the Gulf of Tonkin would have to have killed thousands of American civilians in New York, and now would be chilling out in some remote mountains under a silk berka. Big berka.

Dec. 03 2009 09:50 AM

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