John F. Lehman Interview: Conversations with History; Institute of International Studies, UC Berkeley

Managing National Security Policy: Conversation with
John F. Lehman, Secretary of the Navy (1981-87); April 16, 1991, by Harry Kreisler

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Advice for Students

If a student wants to follow your career path, or a comparable one, what sorts of things should he or she be studying?

They need to prepare themselves with a basic grounding in the arts and sciences, and they need to understand history. They need to learn the concepts and philosophy to have the basic analytical tools to integrate empirical, mathematical, and engineering knowledge with the unquantifiable mood, political trend analyses, and lessons of history. You need to be able to understand both.

You need a basic grounding in the hard sciences. You need a basic grounding in the humanities. If you get those two disciplines, regardless of how you then specialize, whether you get a Ph.D. in diplomatic history and international law like I did, or you get a Ph.D. in quantum physics or mechanical engineering, the fact is, you've got the basic literacy and numeracy to understand the phenomena and make coherent sense out of them to abstract the vision where we ought to go to make things better. Then you've got the tools to make it happen.

Dr. Lehman, thank you very much for being with us today. And congratulations on being the Nimitz Lecturer this year.

Thank you very much.

And thank you very much for joining us for this Conversation on International Affairs.

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