WASHINGTON, D.C. — The United States Global Leadership Coalition (USGLC) recently announced a changing of the guard; former NATO Supreme Allied Commander for Europe Admiral James Stavridis of the U.S. Navy and former Commander-in-Chief of U.S. Central Command General Anthony Zinni of the U.S. Marine Corps were announced as new co-chairs of its National Security Advisory Council (NSAC.)
The NSAC is a complex body that deals with a broad range of issues. According to its mission, the NSAC “is made up of nearly 150 retired three-star and four-star generals and admirals representing all five branches of the Armed Forces and united in their support of a “smart power” approach that promotes America’s national security by strengthening all the tools of national security: diplomacy and development, alongside a strong defense—emphasis on smart.
And smart is exactly what these two former military commanders are.
Said Stavridis, “throughout our military careers, General Zinni and I saw firsthand how the tools of development assistance and diplomacy often help nations around the globe stabilize and prosper. As they do, they create the conditions that can defuse conflict before it requires a military response. That makes those countries and their regions more secure, which in turns makes America more secure.”
The notion that the fight for national security begins with the International Affairs Budget and civilian national security tools like development and diplomacy may not sound like what one would expect coming from former military commanders, but that is exactly why this pair was chosen to head up the USGLC’s NSAC — they understand “smart power.”
As Executive Director of the USGLC Liz Schrayer explains, “These two remarkable leaders are among the most eloquent and influential champions of a ‘smart power’ solution to our national security. They share with countless other top U.S. military the conviction that the programs funded by our International Affairs Budget make America stronger and more secure.”
While heading up a “smart power” approach to national security can seem like a daunting task, this duo is well prepared.
Admiral Stavridis was the first American NATO commander in Europe, where he oversaw a 51-national coalition comprised of 120,000 troops across three continents and at sea. General Zinni for his part served the U.S. Marine Corps for 35 years and retired after commanding the U.S. Central Command, responsible for U.S. operations across the Middle East. In other words, they are well prepared and duly experienced.
It was only matter of time before the top brass began cooing about finding non-military solutions to global conflicts, but to have these two champions of “smart power” atop the NSAC sends strong message to Americans and the rest of the world: the military is no longer going to fight fire with fire; instead, it is going to prevent fires all together and, in the process, maybe lift a large portion of the world’s population out of poverty.