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 awards and a Clarion for her coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, and The 9/11 Bombing Anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Asiana plane crash and was named VOA’s chief reporter with Google Glass.

You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at CarolynVOA, on Google Plus and Facebook.

You May Like

UN Watchdog Urges Israel to Probe Possible Gaza War Crimes

More than 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, were killed in a 51-day war in Gaza, along with 67 Israeli soldiers and six civilians in Israel More

New Kenyan 'Thin SIMs' Poised to Transform African Mobile Money

Equity's new technology is approved in African nation for one-year trial, though industry leader Safaricom says thin SIMs could lead to data theft and fraud More

Solar's Future Looks Brighter

New technology and dropping prices are contributing to a surge in solar power More

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.
Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukrainei
X
Al Pessin
October 25, 2014 4:21 PM
Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Talks to Resume on Winter Gas for Ukraine

Ukrainian and Russian officials will meet again next week in an effort to settle their dispute over natural gas supplies that threatens to leave Ukraine short of heating fuel for the coming winter. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London the dispute is complex, and has both economic and geopolitical dimensions.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.

All About America

AppleAndroid