Where to begin? This has been a week of non-stop headline-making news: We’ve had promises for a “new approach” in Afghanistan; another tragic and deadly collision involving our Navy’s 7th fleet and a sister ship to the USS Fitzgerald; remarks from a President intent on returning to his campaign’s glory days that stoke the coals of inflammatory rhetoric, fomenting further division across our country.

At times, it seems as though we’re repeating history at quick intervals; much of what I discussed with the media this week has been touched on at other times already this summer. Still, there are new and important nuances to highlight as well.

Earlier this week, I spoke with Robin Young from NPR’s Here and Now and gave a brief run-down of what President Trump’s “new approach” to Afghanistan, namely, a very similar approach to what I was advocating as the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO back in 2013 when that war was under my command. This approach will likely see a modest increase of troops in Afghanistan – both from U.S. and NATO forces, thanks to behind-the-scenes work of our Secretary of Defense, Jim Mattis – but in truth, we’re working with the best of three bad options. Frankly, the option we’ve chosen is not so much “new” as “Back to the Future” as I wrote for Foreign Policy this week.

Regarding the USS John S. McCain crash, first of all, I want to reiterate that my heartfelt condolences go out to the sailors and families of the USS McCain. The fact that this is the second such naval collision of this nature for the 7th fleet in a period of 60 days is an indicator that investigations, reviews, and changes must be made to prevent further loss of life and damage to our fleet. There are a number of factors that could go into such an accident, including the fact that the Strait of Malacca is one of, if not the busiest, shipping lanes in the world. As I told our friends at Morning Joe, our surface navy, particularly the 7th fleet, has seen fewer numbers in recent years but has been “run hard and put away wet,” as they say. There are implications to be considered for what this means for the fleet’s readiness vis-à-vis any North Korean threat, but first and foremost, as I told the NBC Nightly News team, we must focus on the readiness and training of our navy crews because the safety of our ships and sailors depends on them.

Finally, as I wrote in last week’s blog post, our nation has been sailing through some rather choppy waters over the last few weeks. Following the devastating events in Charlottesville and the shocking speech made our President in Phoenix, Arizona this week, we must – as The Fletcher School, as Tufts University, and as members of a global community – stand loudly against purveyors of hate. We must proudly, definitively protect our nation and our allies from those who threaten our values of democracy, liberty, freedom of speech and religion, racial and gender equality. As I wrote in an op-ed for The Boston Globe this week, we have a military to defend our values, not tear them down. That is a lesson I learned as a sailor serving my country defending the U.S. Constitution. It is a lesson I carried with me as the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO defending those values alongside our allies, and it is a lesson I refuse to let be forgotten as the Dean of The Fletcher School.

In my mission to keep this lesson from being forgotten, I call on other national leaders — political, financial, business, academic, cultural — to stand together publicly in support of our values. And perhaps, most importantly, we need the retired and active senior officers in the President’s inner circle to speak truth to power in support of our values in ways that may be deeply uncomfortable. That, too, is part of the oath they swear, and the heart of their duty as well.

As always, thank you for reading.

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