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Vietnam War and the Presidency: Lessons Learned

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With support from: Lowell Institute
Date and time
Saturday, March 11, 2006

Brian Williams leads former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark, New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, Senator Chuck Hagel, and former ambassador to Vietnam Pete Peterson in discussion about the Vietnam War. This lecture comes from "Vietnam and the Presidency", a national conference where leading historians, key policymakers of the Vietnam War era, and journalists who covered the war examine the antecedents of the war, presidential decision-making, media coverage, public opinion, lessons learned and the influence of the Vietnam War experience on subsequent US foreign policy. The Vietnam War was the longest and most controversial war that the United States ever fought. It claimed the lives of more than 58,000 Americans and over three million Vietnamese. From the arrival of the first US military advisers in the 1950s to the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, US involvement in Viet Nam was central to the Cold War foreign policies of Presidents Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon and Ford. The war has continued to affect the policies of subsequent presidents, and its legacy is particularly relevant today during America's war on terror.

Bob Herbert joined The New York Times as an op-ed columnist in 1993. His twice a week column comments on politics, urban affairs and social trends. Prior to joining *The Times*, Mr. Herbert was a national correspondent for NBC from 1991 to 1993, reporting regularly on *The Today Show* and *NBC Nightly News*. He had worked as a reporter and editor at *The Daily News* from 1976 until 1985, when he became a columnist and member of its editorial board. In 1990, Mr. Herbert was a founding panelist of *Sunday Edition*, a weekly discussion program on WCBS-TV in New York, and the host of *Hotline*, a weekly issues program on New York public television. He began his career as a reporter with The Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J., in 1970. He became its night city editor in 1973. Mr. Herbert has won numerous awards, including the Meyer Berger Award for coverage of New York City and the American Society of Newspaper Editors award for distinguished newspaper writing. He was chairman of the Pulitzer Prize jury for spot news reporting in 1993.
Pete Peterson is an American businessman, investment banker, fiscal conservative, author, and politician whose most prominent political position was as United States Secretary of Commerce. He is Chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Senior Chairman of the private equity firm, the Blackstone Group. In 1969, he was invited to chair a Commission on Foundations and Private Philanthropy, which became known as the Peterson Commission. Peterson is a co-founder of the prominent private equity and investment management firm, the Blackstone Group and was a co-founder of the Concord Coalition. He is founding Chairman of the Peterson Institute, and a Trustee of the Committee for Economic Development.
Brian Williams is the seventh anchor and managing editor in the history of *NBC Nightly News*, which represents the largest single daily source of news in America. Recently, Williams became the most honored network evening news anchor. He received four Edward R. Murrow awards, his fifth Emmy award, the duPont-Columbia University award and the industry's highest honor, the George Foster Peabody award. Most were given for his work in New Orleans while covering Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath, and all were awarded to Williams in only his second year on the job. Williams was the first and only network evening news anchor to report from New Orleans before Hurricane Katrina hit and was the only network news anchor to report from the Superdome during the storm. He remained in New Orleans to report on the aftermath and destruction of Hurricane Katrina, and continues to travel back and forth to the region to cover the recovery and rebuilding efforts.