Lee Hamilton was a member of the United States Congress from 1965 to 1999, and in the entirety of his 34 years in Congress he served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, eventually becoming the committee chair. He’s served on more national advisory board and commissions than I could possibly mention, but the big ones include the 9/11 Commission and the Iraq Study Group
In November 2015, just a couple weeks before we recorded this interview, he was honored with a Presidential Medal of Freedom for having been “one of the most influential voices on international relations and American national security over the course of his more than 40 year career.”
In this episode we discuss much of that career and beyond. Hamilton reflects on his childhood, growing up the son of a methodist minister, the influence of his first trip abroad, which was to Germany as a student in the early 1950s; and how a trip to Vietnam as a congressman in the late 1960s convinced him to oppose the war.
We have a great conversation about the role of Congress in shaping US foreign policy, and the many lessons he’s learned over the course of his career. He kicks off discussing what it was like to stand shoulder to shoulder with the likes of Steven Spielberg, Barbara Streisand and James Taylor to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
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