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Dr. Schlesinger is an economist who served as Chairman/The Atomic Energy Commission and as the Director of the Central lntellige11ce Agency before being appointed as Secreta1y of Defense in 1973. During the Carter Administration he was Secretary of Energy.

President Carter, Mrs. Carter, Secretary England, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen:

We are gathered here today for this time-honored ceremony, over which Mrs. Carter will shortly preside-the christening of a powerful multi-mission combatant, which will be a needed constituent in the continued domination of the seas by the United States Navy. It represents another chapter in the long history of the U.S. Navy: from those early days of the republic, when the Navy sought to protect our shores from the powerful presence of the British fleet, reflected in the symbolic presence of USS CONSTITUTION in Boston Harbor some 60 miles north of here. From then it was on to Admiral Dewey’s victory at Manila Bay, the need to protect the sea lanes in two world wars, the Battle of the Atlantic, the Inchon landing, and, most recently, Operation Iraqi Freedom.

(Please note, I have refrained from emphasizing the crucial role of the U.S. Navy in the late War Between the States-in fear of offending any Georgians who might be present. Still I suspect they would much prefer to be reminded of the naval triumphs of Admiral Farragut than General Sherman’s March to the Sea.)

And, most momentous of all, that decisive, incredible, almost miraculous, victory at Midway, which not only turned the tide in the Pacific, but enabled us to proceed to victory in the European war. The foundation for D-day and the march to the Rhine was formed by the dive bombers from our carriers at Midway. Today, especially since the demise of the Soviet Union, we possess dominion over the seas.

The modern Navy has embraced the compel ling necessity of ever-advancing technology. It is here before us, embodied in this nuclear-powered submarine equipped with stunningly accurate cruise missiles-and named for the 391h President of the United States. This is a new-generation USS SEA WOLF, and we may be confident, a vast advance beyond that USS SEA WOLF to which a young Naval Academy graduate, Lieutenant Carter, reported over half a century ago.

It was then that we saw the birth of the nuclear-powered submarine, in reality a new and quite different weapon-system. For, unlike its air-breathing predecessor, as President Eisenhower proudly observed, it could so effectively be hidden in the depths of the sea.

Today, of course, we live in a radically changed geopolitical context. The possibility of major-power confrontation has receded with the end of the Cold War. Yet, if the main risk has been reduced, the number of risks has multiplied. What we once could take for granted, the almost total invulnerability of the American mainland, is now gone. It ended with the deployment of ballistic missiles and nuclear warheads, but now more generally with weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, and the possibility of weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists. Still, we must also understand clearly that terrorism itself is a reflection of and a bow to our continuing military dominance. Terrorism is “a weapon of the weak, reflecting the inability of those hostile to us to challenge us militarily.

We cannot allow that condition to change. We must retain our military preponderance, even as it drives hostile fanatics to employ this “weapon of the weak. We must recognize that terrorism will be with us for a long time, intermittently inflicting damage. It will continue as long as the civil war exists in the Islamic world, breeding as it does a hatred that cannot be appeased. Today we launch this embodiment of our continuing military preponderance-from which our hate-filled and desperate foes can only resort to terrorism.

Now Jet me talk about the man-and the statesman-for whom this powerful combatant is named. Jimmy Carter is the only graduate of the Naval Academy -and the only submariner-to become Commander in Chief. Indeed, he is the only submariner to become Commander in Chief, and thus it seems most appropriate that the Naval combatant named for him should be a submarine. When he left that other SEA WOLF half a century ago, the young Lieutenant Carter may have believed he was done forever with wolves of the sea. Yet, now his name will be indelibly identified with them. And these powerful instruments of war will be part of a deterrent that maintains the peace-to which Jimmy Carter has devoted so much of his life to preserve.

In politics, he remains unique. Who else other than Jimmy Carter could observe the behavior of politicians with such detachment, if not irony? Who else but Jimmy Carter could participate in a softball game wearing a tee-shirt, emblazoned with the motto:

“A politician is always there
– when he needs you.

Jimmy Carter rose to the presidency in circumstances that were highly special-and likely not to be repeated. In the wake of Watergate and the view of foreign/defense policy that Vietnam had come to symbolize, Jimmy Carter was exactly what the American people wanted. He was distant from Washington. He was a man of good character. He believed that America had been hurt by this slippage from high standards. He was determined to restore moral virtue in the seats of power, or, as he put it, “to make government as good as the American people.

President Carter did not change; he remained wedded to his high principles. As public attitudes went through their normal volatile pattern, he was reluctant, to say the least, to abandon his compass. I am reminded of a story I once heard told by a Scots preacher:

You know of that wee creature, the chameleon. You can throw it on a piece of green cloth, and it will tum green. You can throw it on a piece of brown cloth, and it will tum brown. And then somebody tried throwing it on a piece of Scotch plaid-and the poor little creature went bust trying to adapt.

Well that tells us a great deal about politics! Moral virtue may not be enough! To his great credit, President Carter would not acquiesce this interpretation of the nature of the modem presidency. I quote from a recent article in the Washington Post by Professor Louis L. Gould of the University of Texas:

The nature of the office itself and what it has become are partly the problem. Over the past 50 years, the institution of the presidency has evolved into a mixture of celebrity and continuous campaigning. Substantive policy has receded in significance; presidents are judged on how they perform before the media, whether they win a second term and what their approval ratings are. In this context, mastery of staged events and the capacity to please the public are what matter most.

… But, of course, the presidency is not just about glitz and the trappings of show business. At bottom, it is about policy, substantive issues and demanding choices.

Jimmy Carter thought the presidency was about the latter, the substantive issues … He was more or less indifferent to the former, the conviction that governance is public relations.

To his great credit and to his great cost, Jimmy Carter never devoted much time in kowtowing to the press. I can recall one day, as we crossed West Executive Avenue, as he ignored the chorus of questions shouted from the press corps, he whispered to me just one word: “vultures.

As President, Jimmy Carter was at his desk in his study off the Oval Office by 5:30 or 6:00 AM, reading and annotating policy papers sent by subordinates, who at that hour were still lolling around in bed. At the naming ceremony at the Pentagon in 1998, then Navy Secretary John Dalton put it very well: Jimmy Carter had been among an elite corps of officers, bright in the technical disciplines, “with a keen eye for detail and “a relentless work ethic. Every decision that came before him, he examined in excoriating detail.

I recall attending a meeting on automobile emissions control that the President held with the (then) four CEOs of the country’s automobile manufacturers. They had brought along an engineering professor from the University of Michigan-just in case some technical question might arise. The President made some high-level observations about the country needing to reduce air pollution and the need for cooperation from the automobile industry. He then, somewhat pointedly, asked the CEOs why they had chosen a less efficient converter than the Japanese industry bad developed. At this point the CEOs, looking not too knowledgeable, turned to the Michigan professor and indicated he would explain. Before long, the discussion bad become a highly technical one regarding the relative advantages of different converters between the President and the engineering professor, while the four CE Os, the Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, and I just sat there listening. It was typical of Jimmy Carter. There was no issue on which he did not do meticulous background research.

Such habits were natural to him. But they had strongly been reinforced by his work with Admiral Hyman Rickover, who, as Secretary Dalton put it, everyone “knows that he was demanding and unforgiving, to say the least. People who worked for Rick shared a special kind of pride-somewhat akin to those who had successfully survived a prisoner-of-war camp. I am, unquestionably, the only person in the world who can state that Rickover was his subordinate in three different jobs. That, at least, was the way it appeared on organization charts-something one should not necessarily believe. The reality was somewhat different. I also confess that I have not been here at this shipyard in Groton since my late wife christened the New York many years ago. At that time, I regaled the audience with a few Rickover stories, which pleased the audience more than it did the Admiral.

Perhaps I should remind you that the only reason that we today name submarines after people, like Jimmy Carter-or places-is the perceptiveness of Admiral Rickover. In the old days, the Navy, understandably if unimaginatively, named its submarines after fish-such as Albacore, Bluegill, Shad, Haddock, and Halibut-but also such obscure names as Clamagore, Snook or Wahoo. As Rick observed to me one day-with a touch of contempt for the woeful lack of political understanding on the part of the Navy-“Fish can’t vote.

From Admiral Rickover, the President had learned that the earth’s store of petroleum was sharply limited. The Admiral had, for simplification, estimated that the total volume of oil in the earth’s crust amounted to some 10 cubic miles. Pretty soon, the President had me estimating how much of that had been used up and how much remained to be used. It is an interesting and revealing point that in recent years, the oil industry has come to concede that the capacity to produce crude oil is limited, that the world will reach its peak production sometime in this half century, and that the late geologist King Hubbard was, indeed, correct in his analysis that was once derided by the industry.

Jimmy Carter had campaigned on America’s energy vulnerability. He wanted to do something about it-to reduce our dependency on imported oil. Perhaps a less dedicated and less idealistic politician would have recognized that the public wanted to discuss, denounce OPEC, etc.-but not to pay any serious price, such as taxes, actually to reduce that dependency. Nonetheless, actions taken during his administration did reduce our dependency on foreign oil from nearly 50 percent to 30 percent. It has now come to be somewhat above 60 percent.

In his years as president, Jimmy Carter was a model of personal integrity. He exemplified a kind of selfless leadership-and paid scant attention to those calculations of small political advantage, when the nation’s interests were at stake. Perhaps his greatest triumph was the Camp David Accord, which he personally and industriously negotiated. He was advised by some that he might be jeopardizing his personal and political prestige in a venture that not only could fail, but appeared likely to fail. To that argument, he was indifferent-given that there was an opportunity to advance the cause of reconciliation and peace.

Equally revealing, in 1979, he was advised by some to take a far more punitive stance toward Iran after the seizure of the American Embassy. Had he done so, he might well have won re-election the following year, as the country rallied around the President in a moment of crisis. He declined to do so on the basis that such action would result in unnecessary casualties. In adversity, he displayed both dignity and grace.

Jimmy Carter left office with the same admirable traits that he brought to the office-thoughtful, hard working, attentive to detail, and-above all-altruistic. Since leaving office, he has been recognized and praised throughout the world as a man of high principle-and for his humanitarian efforts, from the Habitat for Humanity to reducing disease in developing nations (the latest near triumph: the final eradication of Guinea worm disease in Africa). The Carter Center in Atlanta is dedicated not to the glorification of the past, but to the improvement of the future.

Mrs. Carter will shortly christen this submarine. It has been carefully constructed; its innumerable details carefully attended to; its hull is solid-like the man of integrity for whom it is named. It will soon become part of that formidable array of naval power that will help deter others-and thereby avoid future conflict among major powers.

Mr. President, Mrs. Carter, congratulations to you both on this splendid day! -and thank you for your service, your example, and your idealism.

Naval Submarine League

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