Since the election, I’ve been hoping for a sense of normalcy to return to U.S. politics and global affairs. And yet each week seems more tumultuous than the last.
This past week, a news outlet released documents that alleged the Russian government had proof that President-elect Trump engaged in inappropriate acts while in Russia, among other indiscretions. It was revealed shortly after the release of those documents that these unflattering reports were not only false, but were actually examples of fake news floating around the Internet.
Exactly who leaked the documents is still uncertain, but the President-elect seems convinced that the intelligence community is the source. This latest spat – following the new President’s denial that Russia was behind the DNC attacks – is another nail in the coffin of the current intelligence agency leaders. The relationships between the President-elect and these agencies are irreparably broken. For the U.S. to move forward, it’s time to get a new leadership in place. After this, I’m hopeful that the new President will be supportive. Our intelligence services have very accurate sources on Russian behavior, especially in the cybersphere, and once Trump realizes this, his skepticism about Vladimir Putin will deepen. I spoke with the New York Times about this, which you can read here.
I also had the opportunity to discuss our intelligence agencies with NBC Nightly News, available in the link below:
At the same time, all eyes have been on the Senate confirmation hearings for the President-elect’s cabinet members. Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson’s hearing lasted nine hours as he faced tough questions on China, Russia and Cuba, among other topics. I think Tillerson is a smart choice for the role; he has a vast knowledge of the world, as well as experience leading a complex, multinational organization, and the political connections necessary to make it in Washington.
In addition, the Senate held its hearing for Gen. Jim Mattis (a good friend whom I regard highly), who has been nominated for Secretary of Defense. Law dictates that whoever assumes this position must be retired from the military for at least seven years. Due to his very recent retirement, Gen. Mattis’ nomination will require Congress to amend the law to make a one-time exception to the rule.
This “cooling off” period between military leadership and civilian life is important for a number reasons, but I believe Gen. Mattis is a worthy exception. During his hearing, Mattis needed to make the point that his role is as a civilian and that he will not follow his very natural instincts to act as a general. I spoke about this with Fox News Radio, which you can listen to here.
As always, thank you for reading.
Dean Stavridis with his basset hound, Lilly.
Dean James Stavridis is the 12th leader of The Fletcher School since its founding in 1933. A retired Admiral in the U.S. Navy, he led the NATO Alliance in global operations from 2009 to 2013 as Supreme Allied Commander.
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