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Experiences Of War Behind Obama’s New Cabinet

President Barack Obama speaks during at the White House, Monday, announcing his nomination of former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel as the new Defense Secretary. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

President Barack Obama speaks during at the White House, Monday, announcing his nomination of former Nebraska Sen. Chuck Hagel as the new Defense Secretary. (Carolyn Kaster/AP)

President Obama has chosen two decorated Vietnam veterans for top posts in his new cabinet — Massachusetts Senator John Kerry as Secretary of State and former Nebraska Senator Chuck Hagel as Secretary of Defense. They are two men for whom the Vietnam experience profoundly shaped their views on the limits of U.S. power.

At the White House on Monday, Obama cited Hagel’s service as an infantryman, as one reason why he would be cautious about sending the country to war.

“Chuck knows that war is not an abstraction,” the president said. “He understands that sending young Americans to fight and bleed in the dirt and mud, that’s something we only do when it’s absolutely necessary.”

Could Hagel and Kerry bring a different, more war weary approach to the administration’s foreign and military policy?

Guest:

  • Stephen Kinzer, foreign correspondent and professor of international realtions at Boston University
  • Bryan Bender, national security reporter for the Boston Globe

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