By Mark L. Taylor
The Commoner Call (8/22/18)
Retired Admiral Bill McRaven spent 37 years in the military. He led the U.S. Special Operations Command and masterminded the 2011 raid that killed Osama Bin Laden. Last week he made a blistering comment about Donald Trump’s revocation of national security clearance for one of his critics, former CIA director John Brennan. In a Washington Post op-ed, McRaven called for Trump to revoke his security clearance as well, noting, “I would consider it an honor if you would revoke my security clearance as well, so I can add my name to the list of men and women who have spoken up against your presidency.
“Like most Americans, I had hoped that when you became president, you would rise to the occasion and become the leader this great nation needs.
“A good leader tries to embody the best qualities of his or her organization. A good leader sets the example for others to follow. A good leader always puts the welfare of others before himself or herself.
“Your leadership, however, has shown little of these qualities. Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.
“If you think for a moment that your McCarthy-era tactics will suppress the voices of criticism, you are sadly mistaken. The criticism will continue until you become the leader we prayed you would be.”
Less well known are McRaven’s insightful comments about what would bring true national security, and it’s not some new whizbang, high-tech drone super fighter flying battleship Space Force. No, McRaven, notes, true national security begins closer to home. Right down the street, in your child’s classroom:
“But there are always competing interests, so our job in higher ed is to make sure that we make a case for why what we are trying to do is important for the state of Texas. But you know as we go through this, everybody understands that there are competing interests and there is pre-K through 12, which I have said all along: If you have one dollar, put it towards pre-K through 12. That is important to be able to teach our young men and women and teach them well and educate them well so they’re ready to go into the workforce or they’re ready to come to a great university. So there are always competing interests.
“Pre-K through 12. I’m often asked when I am sitting in various forums, and we start to turn to national defense and national security issues and somebody in the audience will invariably ask me what I think the biggest national security issue is, and my answer’s the same every time: It’s pre-K through 12. Which surprises them, they think I’m going to say North Korea or they think I’m going to say Iran. But the fact of the matter is, my biggest concern is: Are we educating the youth of America well enough so that in 10 years, 20 years that these young men and women will be great citizens of the United States, that they will be ready to come to college? That they will be ready to serve in industry and in technology? And I don’t know that I think we have found the right answer to that yet. So the thing that keeps me up at night is making sure that the state of Texas – or hoping that the state of Texas – and the nation is investing in our pre-K through 12 in a way that will put our young men and women in a position to be successful.”