The year was 1968 — one of those years that ranks with 33 A.D., 1066 and 1776 as an inarguable landmark — and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had spent hours in executive session struggling with the Vietnam War. Sen. Albert Gore Sr. of Tennessee dismissed concerns that holding public debates about the war would be divisive and undercut America’s chances of victory. Another senator, Joseph Clark of Pennsylvania, reported that he had asked the U.S. commander, William Westmoreland, “If there would be a military victory in this war, and he said no.”
In this essay, Jon Meacham calls upon Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.) to revisit a role he played 40 years ago, when Kerry took to the Senate floor to question the morality of the Vietnam War before Chairman William A. Fulbright. Meacham revisits Kerry’s arguments and asks him to assess the war in Afghanistan.