This year marks the 40th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War and 50th anniversary of the major U.S. escalation and first anti-war protests.

This conference at New York University's Center in Washington D.C., will offer an occasion to reflect on the history of the Vietnam war and to examine its critical lessons. It is open to the public but registration is required.



Wednesday, April 29

4:30 p.m.  Panel 1 - Was the War Just?

Was the war necessary strategically and ethically? What purpose was it intended to serve?

Marilyn Young, New York University
Michael Lind,
New America Foundation
David Little,
Berkeley Center on Religion, Peace and World Affairs 

6:30 p.m.  Keynote Address

Hon. Elizabeth Holtzman, former member of Congress

7:30 p.m.  Reception

Thursday, April 30

9 a.m.  Panel 2 - War or Revolution?

Did the Vietnamese conflict represent a national revolution (and civil war) or an instance of foreign aggression?

David Elliott, Pomona College
David Hunt
, University of Massachusetts, Boston
Sophie Quinn-Judge, Temple University

11 a.m.  Panel 3 - A Winnable War?

Was the war lost because of poor leadership or was it winnable?

Col. Gregory Daddis, United States Military Academy, West Point
John Prados,
NYU DC; National Security Archive, The George Washington University
Mai Elliott
of author, RAND in Southeast Asia: A History of the Vietnam War Era (RAND Corporation)

2 p.m.  Panel 4 (Roundtable) - The Misconduct of War and Impacts in Vietnam

What was the impact of the war on the Vietnamese people, South and North, and on American service members?

Jessica Chapman, Williams College
Nick Turse,
Nation Institute
Susan Hammond, War Legacies Project
John Ketwig, author of …and a Hard Rain Fell: A GI’s True Story of the War in Vietnam

Friday, May 1

8:30 a.m.  Panel 5 - Diplomacy

What opportunities existed to negotiate an earlier end to the war, and how were these affected by political interests in Washington, Hanoi and Saigon?

Lien-Hang Nguyen, University of Kentucky
James Hershberg,
George Washington University
Jeffrey Kimball,
Miami University

11 a.m.  Panel 6 - Lessons for U.S. Foreign Policy

What were the crucial lessons of the war? How do these lessons apply to current U.S. foreign policy?

Andrew Bacevich, Boston University
Phyllis Bennis,
Institute for Policy Studies
Carolyn Eisenberg,
Hofstra University

2 p.m.  Panel 7 (Roundtable) - The Anti-War Movement

What were the impacts of the anti-war movement?

David Cortright, Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame
Mel Small,
Wayne State University
Penny Lewis,
City University of New York

"The Wall reminds us to be honest in our telling of history. There is nothing to be gained by glossing over the darker portions of a war ... that bitterly divided America. We must openly acknowledge past mistakes, and we must learn from past mistakes, because that is how we avoid repeating past mistakes." 

— Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, in his 2014 Veterans Day remarks at the Vietnam Memorial.

Following our academic program will be a public conference, "Vietnam, The Power of Protest. Telling the Truth. Learning the Lessons." Geared towards a wide audience, from anti-war activists from the 60’s to young organizers today, this event will run from 8 pm Friday, May 1 through Saturday evening, May 2.


Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, University of Notre Dame

Provost's Global Research Initiatives, New York University
Department of History, New York University