American Security Project’s Board Member and former Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, along with Bob Kerrey, wrote a piece for the Wall Street Journal on the importance of trade and diplomacy in securing peace. In the midst of ceremonies marking the 50th anniversary of America’s entry into the Vietnam War, Hagel and Kerrey note that, “Presidential candidates on both sides seem to have forgotten the lessons of the post-Vietnam War era”, specifically the importance of trade and diplomacy. Both argue that,
“The Vietnam War defined a generation and influenced and changed America…the war framed and informed a generation and forced the questioning of institutional thinking, particularly in foreign policy.”
The past four presidents have sustained the effort to preserve peace in Southeast Asia, acknowledging the importance of diplomacy and compromise in that process. There is serious concern over the rhetoric of the leading presidential candidates in relation to continuing diplomacy and trade, specifically through the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Both leading candidates do not support the agreement and Hagel and Kerrey express concern about this “unfortunate turn.” Without continued support for diplomacy and open trade, the U.S. is in danger of forgetting the important lessons that cost thousands of lives.
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