What Hagel and Kerry learned from Vietnam

On the other hand, Hagel’s voting record as senator was usually one in favor of military aid and support of Israel, and there can be no doubt — no doubt — that he will follow the policies of the president of the United States, not his prior positions as senator.

The Vietnam War generation began running America in 1992, when Bill Clinton defeated President George H.W. Bush, the last representative of the World War II generation of presidents and leaders, which began 40 years before with the election of Dwight Eisenhower in 1952.

In Kerry and Hagel we have, perhaps, the last of the Vietnam War veterans to assume major national leadership positions in America. But they have been hired by the first post-Vietnam War president, Barack Obama, whose views reflect similar lessons of Vietnam as interpreted by Kerry and Hagel, i.e., to resist unilateral U.S. military interventionism as strongly as possible where direct U.S. security interests are not threatened.

Whether Hagel decides he cannot support a presidential decision to launch a military attack to stop Iranian development of a nuclear weapon is an intriguing question and remains to be seen. Let’s hope and pray that such a decision by President Obama is not necessary and that Iran reverses its present course that so endangers the world.

Lanny Davis, the principal in the Washington law firm of Lanny J. Davis & Associates, which specializes in legal crisis management, served as President Clinton’s special counsel (1996-98) and as a member of President George W. Bush’s Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (2006-07). He currently serves as special counsel to Dilworth Paxson and is a partner with former Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele in Purple Nation Solutions, a public affairs-strategic communications company. He is the author of the forthcoming book Crisis Tales – Five Rules for Handling Scandal in Business, Politics and Life, to be published by Simon & Schuster. He can be followed on Twitter @LannyDavis.