04/29/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Holbrooke: Afghanistan Is Not Vietnam

Afghanistan is not another Vietnam, Richard Holbrooke declared on Sunday, in what was, perhaps, the most forceful pushback against concern and criticism of Barack Obama's plans for that war.

"I served in Vietnam for three and a half years and I'm aware of certain structural similarities," Holbrooke, who is serving as the administration chief diplomat to Afghanistan and Pakistan, told CNN. "But there's a fundamental difference -- the Viet Cong and the North Vietnamese never posed any direct threat to the United States and its homeland. The people we are fighting in Afghanistan and the people they are sheltering in Western Pakistan, pose a direct threat. Those are the men of 9-11, the people who killed Benazir Bhutto and you can be sure that as we sit here today, they are planning further attacks on the United States and our allies."

The remarks by Holbrooke come as critics have begun to air concerns that the president has either drawn himself into a potentially massive and humanly costly foreign policy venture in Afghanistan and/or isn't committing the necessary military resources up front to win the war.

The latter charge was also addressed on CNN's "State of the Union with John King." General David Petraeus, Commander of U.S. Central Command, was asked to address remarks from General David McKiernan that suggested he wanted more U.S. forces sent to Afghanistan than the 17,000 allotted by President Obama.

Why did the president say no, King asked.

"Well, he certainly hasn't said no," replied Petraeus. "What everyone has said let's get these forces on the ground. Every request for forces and every recommendation that the General McKiernan and I made though his year has been approved and as I said we'll take that forward and do the assessments. I think it would be premature to get beyond that right now."

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