Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Here’s Tom’s universal talk for a conference on national security — feel free to use this speech if you’re in a jam

"We live in a world of constantly accelerating change. We have to do better at adjusting to this. "Some people in this town might not want to hear it, but now is not the time for business as usual. Nor is this the time to retreat. We cannot lead alone — but lead we must! ...

via Wikimedia Commons
via Wikimedia Commons
via Wikimedia Commons

"We live in a world of constantly accelerating change. We have to do better at adjusting to this.

"Some people in this town might not want to hear it, but now is not the time for business as usual. Nor is this the time to retreat. We cannot lead alone -- but lead we must! To do that, we need to focus on better developing our strategic leadership, in order to develop whole of government capacity.

"That brings us to cooperation. Let me be clear: Coalitions are essential. We have to do better at working with them. As Churchill said, the only thing worse than having allies is not having them.

"We live in a world of constantly accelerating change. We have to do better at adjusting to this.

"Some people in this town might not want to hear it, but now is not the time for business as usual. Nor is this the time to retreat. We cannot lead alone — but lead we must! To do that, we need to focus on better developing our strategic leadership, in order to develop whole of government capacity.

"That brings us to cooperation. Let me be clear: Coalitions are essential. We have to do better at working with them. As Churchill said, the only thing worse than having allies is not having them.

"There are no easy answers. But we must produce them nonetheless.

"I know I am asking for much here. Our goals are bold and won’t be realized overnight. We must work harder to achieve them, and to do so we must overcome petty partisanship.

"In conclusion, our approach must meet the new demands of a complex and rapidly changing world."

* If you are John McCain add this bonus sentence: "[Current situation in country X] is the gravest since the end of the Cold War. We should intervene, militarily if necessary."

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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