Posted by Paul Casey on Jul 16, 2021

With those words, President Jimmy Collins, officially ushered in his term as President of Seattle Rotary #4, at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 14, 2021, at the Westin Hotel in downtown Seattle.  Because of the pandemic, President Jimmy marked the day as being the first in-person gathering of the Seattle Rotary Club since March of 2020. Additionally, this was the first public event at Seattle's downtown Westin Hotel, since Covid struck almost 16 months ago. The overall mood was upbeat and filled with renewed optimism.

President Jimmy introduced Rotarians Don Murphy and Burr Stewart, who led the singing of the National Anthem. Tom Mesaros followed with the inspiration for the day.
President Jimmy stressed that in his term, major priorities will include internal and external marketing, plus some structural changes within the organizational chart. 
President Jimmy introduced General Scaparrotti and provided an extensive summary of his background. But first, he provided a summary of his path to becoming a Rotarian. He said that each Rotary Club is very similar.  No matter the location, Rotary Clubs provide introductions to the local community, friendships that enrich the quality of life. He said that he has chosen to stay engaged with the Rotary fellowship and with programs that have been pillars of his Rotary experience.  
President Jimmy's Introduction of General Scaparrotti
General Scaparrotti was part of NATO and helped form strategic missions. He last spoke to this club when Sten Crissey was President and soldiers were preparing to deploy to Afghanistan. Since then, his efforts have led to multinational formations in Korea and Europe. Eighteen months ago, they met by accident in Virginia. President Jimmy decided that General Scaparrotti should be the first live speaker for the Seattle Rotary Club when the world opened up again. 
General Scaparrotti
General Scaparrotti spoke about military men and women that he admires greatly.  He described the life and heroics of Herb Lloyd and how he personified, "Service above Self," as a First Corps in AJC command, and how other senior leaders like McCaffrey and McChrystal, were also influenced by Lloyd.  He touched our souls. He spent nearly 20 years of his later life serving in troubled hotspots like Bosnia, Africa, and the Middle East, always having a heart for the young who suffered through brutal wars. 
Over the years, Lloyd put 48 young, bright foreigners into universities in the United States. American taxpayers did not pay a cent for their education.  All expenses were arranged through scholarships and by Herb's own resources. The only requirement for the students, is that they would have to return to their native country and serve others. 70% of these young men and women earned master's degrees. Three obtained PhDs and one earned an MD.
General Scaparrotti said that he had the good fortune to work with the best military and foreign leaders throughout his career. The top leaders consistently focused their efforts to serve their subordinates, rather than be served. They put the success of their subordinates first. The best leaders would also share in the extreme danger with their troops.
He said that character is often hard to define but we know it when we see it. 
General Scaparrotti reviewed the Rotary Club website and said he was struck by the alignment of thoughts that show leadership and characteristics of high-performance organizations. With an emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion, the Rotary Clubs are tackling tough problems on a local, national and worldwide scale to fight disease, provide clean water and hygiene, save mothers and their children and support educational efforts to grow local economies.
Did he agree with President Biden's decision to pull the troops out of Afghanistan?  Did he also think that the Taliban was just a drug cartel?
General Scaparrotti said that he believed we were leaving too quickly. "We were at a point where we had to take something we've not attained in the past and that is, we brought the Taliban to the negotiating table. They did not come out of their good nature. They came because they too were tired, and they didn't believe they could win militarily. And so, we were in a good spot. The last administration really surprised us with announcements about the departure of troops, that weren't tied to the negotiation process. With the announcement by the current administration that we're leaving, the Taliban believes they can win now. My belief is that if we stayed a little bit longer, we could have leveraged our force and we could have negotiated peace. The Taliban has no reason to do that now, other than the fact that if they lose international support, they will be in dire straits. I personally hope for the sake of the many Afghans that rely on us, that ultimately, there will be a soft landing. Now in terms of the drug trade, it is a lucrative source of money for the Taliban."
President Jimmy asked General Scaparrotti, how was he able to stay so optimistic? 
He replied that it's the bright and talented people that he has worked with. He also emphasized the importance of listening. He said he is never worried about finding a solution because if you have the right team, a solution will be found. He stressed the importance of collaboration and the understanding that you don't have all the ideas yourself. 
Those same traits are the only ones that really work effectively with our allies. They do have a different view in almost every case because they sit in a different place. He said Americans are pretty confident, almost too confident sometimes. He said that we at times sweat the small things and we should think more long-term.  Also, it is crucial in the world we live in today, that we must embrace our friends. 
He said the scariest day of his life was when he was the Korean commander.  On August 15, 2015, there was an artillery exchange of fire across the DMZ.  The situation escalated to heightened alert. There were two South Korean soldiers who lost their legs due to a box mine incident, planted very deliberately by the North Koreans. Over the course of 72 hours, we established negotiations with the North and came out of it with a peaceful end. The South Koreans handled the negotiations very well and as a result, there was no further gunfire. On the second night, however, he said he thought we were very close to going to war because at first, the North Koreans didn't accept the South Koreans offer for peace. 
General Scaparrotti was asked what keeps him up at night. He replied that it's not going to war with China or Russia directly but a miscalculation on one side or the other, that leads to war.  
I urge that if you didn't hear or see General Scaparrotti's speech, click the link above to watch it in its entirety.
Next Rotary Club Meeting:  12:30 PM,  July 21, 2021- Zoom Only 
Mary Bacarella, Executive Director of Pike Place Market.   Mary will talk about Resilience and Persistence During the Pandemic.  
Upcoming events:
  • Walk and Talk, 6 PM to 8 PM, Thursday,  July 22. The Walk and Talk will start at the WAC and tour Pike Place Market and Belltown.
  • There will be a Happy Hour at the end of the walk. Register in advance. 
  • There will be a Work Party in Burien on July 25, between 9 a.m. to noon. Joyce Robertson is looking for 12 to 15 volunteers.
  • Consult the Seattle Rotary #4 website for more detailed information about these and other upcoming events. 
The Seattle Rotary #4 meeting with the theme of Service above Self, adjourned at 1:30 p.m.

   Thank you Meeting Reporter Paul Casey!

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