90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
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.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Dennis Endicott

    Unfortunately we are very much paralleling the Veit Nam experience. We hear the same rhetoric from the politicos and the military about “afghanization”, standing up the government, pacification of the opposition, win the hearts and mind of the people.

    I am always reminded of my old Sergeants Major, who helped start an NCO training school in RVN. He shot and killed a viet cong and found a diploma from his school in the boys pocket. We did not know who was who and for sure did not know what they or WE wanted. You can not bomb them back to the dark ages when they in fact are less than that, living in caves (huts in VN).

    We are giving up a great deal of blood and treasure, again, without the politicos having set a goal or limit. The civilians run the US military.


  • Miriam

    No, I dont think so. Anyways, not quite so. Reason is, there was no islamic element in Vietnam though communists behave like islamists in India, France, Italy and so on.

    Second, “infidel tax” is involved in Af-Pak region, meaning we need to keep paying in billions to buy safety though security is eluding us; the islamic honchos sent by X-mas bomber, Times Square bomber are slaves of those masters to remind us more of our payment is due. We are in la-la land of fantasia assuming the honchos will deliver safety, though the honchos never will, since once safety was afforded, cash flow would stop. To conclude, we are gotten ourselves into a trap type quagmire like in Vietnam, though for a different reason.

  • Miriam

    Correction:- “X-mas bomber, Times Square bomber sent by the islamic honchos “

  • Miriam

    Karzai has come to ensure we – the U.S tax payers – pay “infidel tax” on time for decades to come. He has been saying like the pakistanis, “DONT ABANDON US! KEEP PAYING US!!!” National reconstruction was never on our agenda. We have been duped into committing our precious dollars to someone’s kids for decades to come while our kids go hungry (did you see CBS-Katie series on recession kids? – heart rending – isn’t it?)

    If you want to feed a kid or save a woman, go to Congo or Burma, or Cambodia or India not any of the islamic countries. First they sent x-mas bomber to get INFIDEL TAX for yemen, then Times Square bomber, shazad, for pakistani coffers, now karzai for afghan coffers… where is the money coming from? Loan from the chinese to feed other’s fat kids? The kids who might possibly hate us and turn violent against us. Think about it!

Sep 1, 2014
This Friday, Aug. 22, 2014 photo shows a mural in in the Pullman neighborhood of Chicago dedicated to the history of the Pullman railcar company and the significance for its place in revolutionizing the railroad industry and its contributions to the African-American labor movement. (AP)

On Labor Day, we’ll check in on the American labor force, with labor activist Van Jones, and more.

Sep 1, 2014
Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker Jarvis Jones (95) recovers a fumble by Carolina Panthers quarterback Derek Anderson (3) in the second quarter of the NFL preseason football game on Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014 in Pittsburgh. (AP)

One outspoken fan’s reluctant manifesto against football, and the big push to reform the game.

Aug 29, 2014
Beyoncé performs at the 2014 MTV Music Video Awards on Sunday, August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, California. (Getty)

Sex, power and Beyoncé’s feminism. The message to young women.

Aug 29, 2014
Ukrainian forces guard a checkpoint in the town of Mariupol, eastern Ukraine, Thursday, Aug. 28, 2014. Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko called an emergency meeting of the nation's security council and canceled a foreign trip Thursday, declaring that "Russian forces have entered Ukraine," as concerns grew about the opening of a new front in the conflict.  (AP)

War moves over Syria, Ukraine. Burger King moves to Canada. Nine-year-olds and Uzis. Our weekly news roundtable goes behind the headlines.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Our Week In The Web: August 29, 2014
Friday, Aug 29, 2014

On hypothetical questions, Beyoncé and the unending flow of social media.

More »
Drew Bledsoe Is Scoring Touchdowns (In The Vineyards)
Thursday, Aug 28, 2014

Football great — and vineyard owner — Drew Bledsoe talks wine, onions and the weird way they intersect sometimes in Walla Walla, Washington.

More »
Poutine Whoppers? Why Burger King Is Bailing Out For Canada
Tuesday, Aug 26, 2014

Why is Burger King buying a Canadian coffee and doughnut chain? (We’ll give you a hint: tax rates).

More »
1 Comment