Washington, DC–(ENEWSPF)–August 4, 2016
By: Lt. Gen. Walter E. Gaskin
In less than 100 days, Americans will go to the polls to elect the 45th president of the United States. As a proud Marine and an even prouder American, I would like to offer a few thoughts on one of the most important duties that the president fulfills, commander in chief, and why I am confident that Hillary Clinton is the right person for the job.
On Jan. 20, 2017, our new president will assume command of the roughly 2.1 million men and women serving in our armed forces, both in active duty and reserve roles. The commander in chief will become responsible for sending them into harm’s way, and caring for them and their families when they return. She will have to work every day to keep our country secure in the face of increasingly complex challenges.
But the president’s national security and defense responsibilities do not end with our troops, our ships and our bases. They do not even end with our citizens, whether at home or overseas. The president’s responsibilities extend further, to America’s relationships with its allies and potential partners around the world.
As the leader of the free world, the president shapes the narrative that America and our allies engage with when we address complex threats such as terrorism, nuclear proliferation and climate change. It is therefore crucial that we elect a commander in chief who is fluent in the language of diplomacy, optimism, unity and progress. We cannot elect a president whose mother tongue is the language of fear.
Fear is among the most dangerous forces in global affairs. Making decisions based on fear makes America less safe, prone to limited options and poor decisions in the future. Heightening our country’s fear will inherently produce a response known as “fight or flight,” meaning we are more likely to lash out violently or withdraw from the world and our allies.
Neither of these is good military policy or good foreign policy. Neither of these options enables us to address the challenges that face us, helps bolster relationships with our allies, or makes our citizens safer. This election has elicited such divisiveness within the military and veteran communities. Fear does not bring our forces together to fight hate in the world; as evidenced by this election, it tears us apart.
I am supporting Hillary Clinton because I know she understands the language of diplomacy and the value of allies. In 2010 I was given the opportunity to serve as deputy chairman of the NATO Military Committee in Brussels — the capstone to my 39-year career in the Marine Corps. As I set about working with our military allies on the challenges we face as a global community, Hillary Clinton had already been circling the globe for more than a year as secretary of State. She visited 112 countries, more than any of her predecessors, because she understood the importance of building positive relationships with our partners and our rivals.
As secretary of State, Hillary Clinton spearheaded a multilateral climate deal, brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, and united numerous allies to bring sanctions against Iran that paved the way for a historic nuclear deal. These are the actions of a leader who understands the power of cooperation and knows how to leverage the strength of our allies. They are the actions of a leader who embraces the language of diplomacy as vital to achieving real and lasting solutions to tough problems.
She understands there is strength in numbers.
I encourage all Americans to carefully consider the tone that we want our president to set, both at home and around the world. Do we want a president who values diplomacy, or one who leverages hate? One who embraces our allies because she understands that our global relationships make us stronger, or one who would abandon our partners with little forethought? For me, the choice is clear.
Gaskin retired from the Marine Corps in 2013 as a lieutenant general. A career infantry officer, he led combat forces in Iraq’s Anbar province as the head of Multinational Forces-West between 2007 and 2008. His final assignment was is Brussels, where he served as deputy chairman of NATO’s Military Committee.
This Op-Ed first appeared in the Military Times at: http://www.militarytimes.com/story/opinion/2016/08/04/hillary-clinton-walter-gaskin-marine-corps-general/88002254/
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