Mullen: Afghanistan Is Not Vietnam – It’s Even More Complex

Joint Chiefs Chairman Cautions Against Comparing the Two Conflicts

Joints Chiefs Chairman Admiral Michael Mullen warned that people should be “pretty careful” about making comparisons between the current military quagmire in Afghanistan and the previous American military quagmire in Vietnam. According to Mullen, “Afghanistan is much more complex.”

The current war has already gone on for over seven years, already roughly half the time it took before the United States finally withdrew from Vietnam. The new administration’s commitment to escalating the war in Afghanistan has led some to label it Obama’s Vietnam.

Admiral Mullen insists that the chief difference is that in this war “we are not an occupying force,” a debatable assertion at best. The relative lack of war exhaustion in the United States and the commitment of a president who ran his campaign around the notion that escalating the war was vital suggests that it will go on at least as long as the Vietnam War did, while reports showing the situation on the ground rapidly deteriorating suggest the end will likely be the same.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.