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Thomas Johnson: Afghanistan "Almost Exact" Vietnam Replay

Thomas H. Johnson of the Naval Postgraduate School (Credit: nps.edu)

Thomas H. Johnson, a guest today in our first hour and a scholar at the Naval Postgraduate School, wrote a recent research paper explaining how there are strong parallels between American conduct during the Vietnam War and the current war in Afghanistan.

It’s part of an ongoing debate that has attracted many different points of view, and it’s a parallel that the Obama administration has rejected.

Here’s how Johnson and co-author M. Chris Mason begin their paper “Refighting the Last War: Afghanistan and the Vietnam Template”: 

It is an oft-cited maxim that in all the conflicts of the past century, the United States has refought its last war. A number of analysts and journalists have mentioned the war in Vietnam recently in connection with Afghanistan. Perhaps fearful of taking this analogy too far, most have backed away from it. They should not—the Vietnam War is less a metaphor for the conflict in Afghanistan than it is a template. For eight years, the United States has engaged in an almost exact political and military reenactment of the Vietnam War, and the lack of self-awareness of the repetition of events 50 years ago is deeply disturbing.

Do you agree or disagree with Johnson’s assessment?

In any case, tune in today to hear Johnson and Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations debate the Afghan-American future.

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