WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, in an op-ed for The Well News, John S. McCain Distinguished Fellow and former U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper joined McCain Institute Kissinger Fellow and former Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop to highlight the McCain Global Leaders Program, which is currently accepting applications until Dec. 31, 2021.
“Leaders of character aren’t born — they must be educated, trained, and developed over time. The armed forces in both the U.S. and Australia do this exceptionally well, and it shows,” Esper and Bishop write in the op-ed. “More must be done, however, to cultivate character-driven leaders on the civilian side of public service if we are to win the future and prevail against today’s autocrats. This is why the McCain Institute launched the McCain Global Leaders Program.”
View excerpts from the op-ed below. Click HERE to read the full op-ed at The Well News.
Op-Ed: Leaders Like John McCain Needed to Win the Future
By Former U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Former Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop
December 16, 2021
Democracies around the world face a growing number of challenges. Authoritarianism is resurgent in many countries. Bad actors are challenging and undermining global rules and norms on every continent and in many international institutions. COVID-19 continues to tear at the social fabric and economic livelihoods of countries around the world, while elected leaders struggle in response to a pandemic the world has not experienced in a century. Longstanding threats from both transnational and non-state actors such as terrorist groups, cyber thieves and criminal gangs continue unabated.
Meanwhile, partisan political forces fueled by disinformation and enabled by social media constitute a new menace to democratic institutions and traditional Western values.
These dynamics have provided an opening for officials in authoritarian states such as China and Russia to question our democratic models and ability to solve problems. They are prompting some to doubt American leadership and commitment to our shared values and longstanding allies.
It is important that people do not fall for this propaganda. The world’s democracies have faced hardships in the past and prevailed; the 20th Century was full of them. The key then, as now, is simple: we must have strong, character-driven leaders to face these threats head-on. Leaders like the late Senator John McCain.
Leaders of character aren’t born — they must be educated, trained, and developed over time. The armed forces in both the U.S. and Australia do this exceptionally well, and it shows. More must be done, however, to cultivate character-driven leaders on the civilian side of public service if we are to win the future and prevail against today’s autocrats. This is why the McCain Institute launched the McCain Global Leaders Program.
While the United States, Australia and all other western democracies face a mix of old and new challenges at home and abroad, we should have confidence in the shared values, visions, and partnerships that have guided us these past several decades. In an age when anti-democratic forces and authoritarianism are on the rise once again, the development of that next generation of leaders is all the more imperative.
The McCain Institute’s McCain Global Leaders Program is currently accepting applicants until the end of the year for the 2022 semester.