Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

Bartabas : Mixing Christ with Spanish music and dancing horses

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Shifts in the propaganda war waged between Israelis and Palestinians

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

French MPs face quandary in pro-Palestinian rallies

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Yezid Sayigh, Senior Associate at the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut

Read more

#TECH 24

Mind the Gender Gap : getting more women into the tech sector

Read more

INSIDE THE AMERICAS

Bolivian children: heading to work aged 10

Read more

WEB NEWS

Israel and Hamas battle online over public opinion

Read more

FOCUS

Can Chancellor Merkel's winning streak last?

Read more

FOCUS

Hunger in a fertile land...

Read more

  • Live: 51 French nationals aboard ‘crashed’ Algerian jet

    Read more

  • ‘Many’ French passengers aboard missing Algerian plane

    Read more

  • Iraqi parliament elects moderate Kurd as president

    Read more

  • Sudanese Christian woman sentenced to death arrives in Italy

    Read more

  • No end to fighting until Israel ends Gaza blockade, Hamas says

    Read more

  • Two foreign women shot dead in western Afghanistan

    Read more

  • At least 60 killed in attack on prison convoy near Baghdad

    Read more

  • Cycling is ‘winning the war on doping,’ says expert

    Read more

  • Ceasefire agreed for Central African Republic

    Read more

  • Can Jew-kissing-Arab selfie give peace a viral chance?

    Read more

  • In pictures: Thousands march for Gaza peace in Paris

    Read more

  • France charges Swiss bank UBS with tax fraud

    Read more

  • Israel faces heightened diplomatic pressure as Gaza violence rages

    Read more

  • Botched Arizona execution takes nearly two hours

    Read more

  • Bomb attacks leave scores dead in north Nigeria

    Read more

Americas

Not another 'Nam: Obama blasts Vietnam analogy

Text by Leela JACINTO

Latest update : 2009-12-02

During his Afghan strategy speech, US President Barack Obama firmly rejected any suggestion that Afghanistan was, or could be, another Vietnam. FRANCE 24 takes a look at the differences and similarities between the two wars.

They're calling it the “V word” in the blogosphere. Hours after US President Barack Obama announced his much-awaited new Afghanistan strategy during a national primetime TV address, Afghanistan experts and ordinary online Americans noted the number of times the US president used the word “Vietnam”.

Over the past few months, critics of a US troop surge have been drawing analogies between the wars in Vietnam and Afghanistan, dredging up the ghost of America’s most shameful international military adventure to warn of future sores on the American psyche.

But in his speech before a sea of blue-and-gray clad cadets at the elite West Point Military Academy in New York on Tuesday, Obama plunged into the thick of the “not another ‘Nam” debate, using the “V word” four times in the course of his 33-minute address.

‘A false reading of history’

“There are those who suggest that Afghanistan is another Vietnam,” he said. “They argue that it cannot be stabilised, and we're better off cutting our losses and rapidly withdrawing. I believe this argument depends on a false reading of history.”

First and foremost, the US president noted, the war in Afghanistan is being jointly waged by “a broad coalition of 43 nations that recognises the legitimacy of our action”.

Historians note that on this front, Obama has a point. The US bore the brunt of the Vietnam War, which reached its heights during the mid-1970s, with some support from Australia and New Zealand and a small number of Asian allies, notably South Korea.

Secondly, Obama noted that “unlike Vietnam, we are not facing a broad-based popular insurgency”.

Recent nationwide opinion polls across Afghanistan appear to support Obama’s argument.

An Oct. 2009 poll by the Asia Foundation found that 70% of 6,400 Afghans polled across the country believed the Afghan National Army and police still needed the support of foreign troops and could not operate by themselves.

The al Qaeda or Communist bogey

But “most importantly,” said Obama, “unlike Vietnam, the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan, and remain a target for those same extremists who are plotting along its border. To abandon this area now -- and to rely only on efforts against al Qaeda from a distance -- would significantly hamper our ability to keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and create an unacceptable risk of additional attacks on our homeland and our allies.”

While there was no threat of a Viet-Cong attack on the US soil, the primary purpose of the Vietnam War during the height of the Cold War was to stem a dreaded domino effect of Communist dominance in South East Asia.

It is unclear if Obama managed to convince his critics that Afghanistan will not be the 44th US president’s Vietnam. Certainly, it is the last thing Obama himself would want.

Date created : 2009-12-02

  • AFGHANISTAN

    Obama commits 30,000 more troops to Afghanistan, outlines withdrawal plan

    Read more

  • AFGHANISTAN

    Obama’s full speech on new Afghan strategy

    Read more

COMMENT(S)