News / USA

    Vietnam Vets Reflect on Obama Cabinet Picks

    Vietnam Vets Reflect on Obama Cabinet Picksi
    X
    January 31, 2013 3:58 PM
    For the first time in U.S. history, two Vietnam veterans might be running key government departments. Congress has just confirmed Senator John Kerry as Secretary of State, and on Thursday, confirmation hearings start for former Senator Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama's choice for Secretary of Defense. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes us to the Vietnam War Memorial to report on how the combat experience of the two men might influence their decisions. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes us to the Vietnam War Memorial to report on how the combat experience of the two men might influence their decisions.
    Vietnam Vets Reflect on Obama Cabinet Picks
    For the first time in U.S. history, two Vietnam veterans might be running key government departments. Congress has just confirmed Senator John Kerry as secretary of state, and on Thursday, confirmation hearings start for former Senator Chuck Hagel, President Barack Obama's choice for secretary of defense.

    Larry Varr stands at the Vietnam War Memorial and reflects on the comrades he left behind. “See, there’s two of my friends on that wall right there,” he said.  

    Those names are just a few among the thousands of the fallen at the Vietnam War Memorial. Varr spent a year in Vietnam as an Air Force sergeant and then as a prisoner of war. That same year, Hagel was an infantry squad leader. Kerry was a Navy lieutenant who later became an outspoken opponent of the war.

    Battle-tested

    Some vets now view Vietnam as an unnecessary war. Varr said the Vietnam experience may affect Kerry and Hagel.

    “It was the biggest life-learning lesson there was, as things can go... if you do things right or how things can go if you don’t do them right,” he said.

    “I was in school in North Carolina when dad was over there,” said David Kroepsch, who along with his family are visiting the war memorial before burying his father at Arlington National Cemetery.  

    His father served a year in Vietnam.  David, also a veteran, spoke about Kerry and Hagel.  

    “Both of them are likely to be more careful about committing the nation to a path of warfare, based on their experiences," he said. "I think they’ll be more conservative, as opposed to hawkish, but in a good way.”

    Varying perspectives

    Kerry and Hagel’s military views are said to mirror the president's. Some analysts say that leaves little room for constructive debate.

    "I do worry about group think," said James Carafano, a retired Army officer, who now works with the Heritage Foundation.

    “I do worry about people who see the world too similarly marching off into the future just because they’ve got these kinds of blinders on as to things that don’t fit with their world view,” he said.

    Anthony Cordesman - now at the Center for Strategic and International Studies - has worked for past secretaries of defense, and said Kerry and Hagel's views are shaped by more recent conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Balkans.

    “It’s not going to be philosophy here, it’s going to be a very cold, hard, military analysis of relative risk. This is something the president is capable of and certainly both senators are capable of,” said Cordesman.

    Kerry breezed through his confirmation for secretary of state. Hagel is expected to have a tougher path to confirmation.

    Carolyn Presutti

    Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters. She has also won numerous Associated Press TV, Radio, and Multimedia awards, as well as a Clarion for her TV coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, Google Glass & Other Wearables, and the 9/11 Anniversary.

    You May Like

    Leaving Scalia Replacement to 2017 Would Mean Unusually Long Vacancy

    History of high court shows Obama not in unique situation during final year of presidency

    US Fact Checkers Debunk Some Republican Candidate Claims 

    Slim evidence for several claims made by Republican presidential candidates at their last debate ahead of next Saturday's key nominating election in South Carolina

    Uganda Presidential Debate a Small Victory for Democracy

    In homes and bars across country, Ugandans were fixated on their screens as eight political candidates running for president took part in national debate

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: AverageNCO from: New Mexico
    January 30, 2013 7:27 PM
    The reporter was able to do some research and find a photograph of Mr. Varr in his Air Force uniform. Unfortunately, she did not do enough research. She failed to verify his claim that he was an actual a prisoner of war. The list of verified Vietnam POW's is easy to find, and Mr. Varr is not on there. While he may or may not be a Vietnam veteran, he is one of the countless liars pretending to have been a prisoner of war.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Ugandai
    X
    Serginho Roosblad
    February 12, 2016 9:29 PM
    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video New Technology Aims to Bring Election Transparency to Uganda

    A team of recent graduates from Uganda’s Makerere University has created a mobile application designed to help monitor elections and expose possible rigging. The developers say the app, called E-Poll, will make Uganda's democratic process fairer. From Kampala, VOA's Serginho Roosblad reports.
    Video

    Video Refugees in Kenya Vie to Compete in Rio Olympics

    In Kenya, refugees from other African nations are training at a special camp and competing for a limited number of slots in this year's Rio Olympics under the flag of the International Olympic Committee (IOC). As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Ngong, this is a first in Olympic history.
    Video

    Video Gateway to Mecca: Historical Old Jeddah

    Local leader Sami Nawar's family has been in the Old City of Jeddah for hundreds of years and takes us on a tour of this ancient route to Mecca, also believed to be the final resting place of Adam's wife, Eve.
    Video

    Video Two-thirds of World Faces Water Shortage

    Four billion people — or two out of every three on the planet — do not have enough water to meet their basic needs. That is far greater than previously thought, according to a new study that presents a more accurate picture of the problem. As VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports, the findings will help policymakers and the public craft solutions to address the threat.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video Russia Bristles at NATO Expansion in E. Europe

    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is meeting Friday with the head of NATO after the Western military alliance and the United States announced plans for the biggest military build-up in Europe since the Cold War. Russia has called NATO's moves a threat to stability in Europe. But NATO says the troop rotations and equipment are aimed at reassuring allies concerned about Russia as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.