THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL
Stephen Randolph serves as the historian of the U.S. Department of
State. A 1974 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, he served
for 27 years on active duty in the Air Force, retiring as a colonel in 2001.
He flew F-4s and F-15s, with a tour in Operation Desert Storm; held
senior staff positions on the Joint Staff and the Air Staff; and then joined
the faculty at the National Defense University, serving for 15 years before
moving to the State Department in 2011. He earned a master’s degree
in the history of science fromThe Johns Hopkins University in 1975 and
a doctorate in history fromThe George Washington University in 2005.He is the author of Powerful and Brutal Weapons: Nixon, Kissinger, and the Easter Offensive (Harvard University Press, 2007).
Efforts in 1975 to capture the lessons of
Vietnam as a guide to future policy died
in the National Security Council with the
seizure of the SS
BY STEPHEN RANDOLPH
merica’s efforts to define the
“lessons of Vietnam” started
during the war, and have contin-
ued ever since, with no apparent
progress toward consensus. As the
terrible climax of the war arrived
in April and May 1975, it seemed a
natural moment to capture these
lessons as a guide to future policy.
Accordingly, Secretary of State and National Security Advisor
Henry Kissinger directed the National Security Council staff to
formulate the lessons from the war, with input from the Depart-
ment of State.