by John Adams
Last Wednesday, June 18, in Washington, I had the privilege of joining a group of thirty-seven retired generals and admirals in a meeting with Senator Barack Obama, to discuss national security issues.
I entered the meeting with Hope, believing with all my heart that Barack Obama can bring the change our country needs, to restore our safety and prosperity. I left the meeting with Fulfillment, knowing that this is a leader who is ready to be our Commander-in-Chief today.
A small but revealing digression...as our group waited for our meeting to start, greeting each other, including (for me) some whom I hadn't seen for years (previous assignments in the Middle East, the Balkans, the Pentagon), speaking of why we were together, suddenly we recognized -- literally in our midst -- the voice we've all come to know, that of Barack Obama. The room hushed immediately. Barack told us he was running about fifteen minutes late, and he wanted to let us know that he regretted the delay, but we'd get down to business soon. He could have sent someone to tell us, of course, but that's not his style. Instead, he told us himself.
The mark of a leader who respects others...
As the outlines of the meeting have been reported in the press, I'll take the liberty of commenting on the atmospherics within the bounds of discretion, as the points of our discussion must remain "closed-door."
Senator Obama opened the meeting with a heartfelt thanks to all of us -- and to those who wear the uniform of the United States of America -- for our service. He asked us not to hold back in the discussion on national security issues -- encouraging us always to do the right thing, to speak our minds with absolute candor. His demeanor was calm, relaxed, purposeful, and completely businesslike.
Throughout the meeting, he genuinely listened -- and responded appropriately to -- our concerns. His tone of urgency and determination to address the serious issues facing our country inspired all of us to voice our concerns in the same spirit. And Barack's encouragement -- to speak our minds honestly and directly -- found success. No one held back.
And though Senator Obama was clearly in charge of the meeting (setting the broad topics, responding thoughtfully and knowledgably to our observations), he listened to our group far longer than he spoke to us.
The mark of a leader who values counsel...
Senator Barack Obama is both brilliant and wise. Vitally important for a Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States of America, he knows how to lead, and how to call professionals to duty in service to our Constitution. He knows the national security issues facing our country internationally -- and domestically. He understands the process by which our national security strategy should be derived -- and he also understands how the process can go off the rails.
Most important for Americans who trust in his leadership and wisdom, he is already tackling national security issues with both urgency and determination...as a Senator and as our Party's standard bearer now, but looking forward to the challenges he'll face in office. Barack Obama leans forward.
The mark of a leader with his priorities straight...
We've all seen how masterfully Barack has run the most successful primary campaign in recent memory, harnessing the energy of tens of millions of Americans, a host of committted volunteers, as well as a skilled professional staff, to build a movement that overcame all the odds to win. Now we can see he has hit the ground running in the general election campaign.
Among other things, I took away from our meeting last Wednesday that Barack Obama feels a solemn duty to Americans to restore our national security after eight years of the Bush Administration's disregard for our safety and prosperity. As Barack quotes Martin Luther King, this movement is about "the fierce urgency of now"...
The mark of a leader who serves the American people...
And you can believe -- on national security as on all the other urgent issues crying out for leadership and competence -- President Barack Obama will hit the ground running in January.