In my post earlier this week, I promised to shed a bit more light on the remarks that former Secretary of Defense, Ashton B. Carter, gave when he was here on campus last weekend for Fletcher’s Class Day celebrations. Before I get to that, I’d like to take this opportunity to brag on my friend and former boss, Ash – just a little bit.

Ash Carter is just terrific. I worked for him when he was the Secretary of Defense under Barack Obama and I was the Supreme Allied Commander of NATO. I have to confess, I guffawed a little when he remarked that I was called “supreme” while he was, technically, to be addressed as “secretary,” but you should know that Ash is a man of intellect, kindness, and thoughtfulness. He’s also a dedicated public servant. It is for all of those reasons that I was so pleased to be able to honor him on Saturday, with the Dean’s Medal. The Medal honors people of extraordinary character who have had a significant impact in the international world; in the past, it has been presented to the likes of former Secretaries of State Madeleine Albright and John Kerry, media-mogul Ariana Huffington, President and CEO of Catholic Relief Services Sean Callahan (F88), and intrepid international journalist, Richard Engel.

All of this to say, Ash is a shining example of how to comport oneself with dignity in the face of changes and challenges. It’s a lesson ripe for a graduation day speech (and you can read more about what he said here), but it’s also an apt reminder for diplomats, cabinet members, Presidents and Vice Presidents as we try to negotiate the tricky dance of diplomacy in today’s world. It is particularly pertinent as we tango with North Korea (and South Korea, and China) – see the article that I wrote just this week for TIME magazine, post-collapse of the U.S.-DPRK summit. It will continue to be thus as we interact with friends, allies, and partners around the world to face some of the most difficult diplomatic challenges of our day.

I’ll keep this brief and leave it here, but if you’d like to hear Ash’s full speech to the Fletcher Class of 2018, look no further than the Fletcher YouTube channel; I invite you to grab a glass and listen in to his words of advice.


Cheers to you this Memorial Day Weekend; Cheers to Ash Carter; Cheers to Fletcher’s graduating class of 2018!  And as always, thanks for reading.

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