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Ashton Carter, who served as the defense secretary for a time during then-President Barack Obama’s administration, has unexpectedly passed away at the age of 68, reports said on Tuesday.
Carter’s family announced that he passed away from a “sudden cardiac event” Monday evening while in Boston. He served under Obama from 2015 to 2017.
“Carter, who went to Yale University and was a Rhodes Scholar, joined the Department of Defense under former President Bill Clinton. He later served as undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics from 2009 to 2011 and deputy secretary of defense from 2011 to 2013. He was nominated to replace Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense in December 2014. He was confirmed, 93-5, by the Senate in February 2015,” ABC News noted.
“As Secretary, he launched the successful campaign to defeat ISIS in Iraq and Syria, opened all combat positions to women, and forged new connections between the Department of Defense and the nation’s technology community,” his family said in a statement. “While he was known for his keen understanding of military technology, nuclear weapons, and international affairs, Secretary Carter loved nothing more than spending time with the troops, making frequent trips to Iraq and Afghanistan to visit U.S forces [with his wife Stephanie].”
Former Defense secretary Ashton Carter dead at 68 https://t.co/DsX4wIGtSJ pic.twitter.com/AGYlNv12Nu
— New York Post (@nypost) October 25, 2022
Carter is survived by his wife and two children, Ava and Will.
“Carter joined the Belfer Center at Harvard University’s Kennedy School after leaving the government, serving as its director the past five years,” ABC News reported, adding that he taught at the school in the 1980s before he joined the federal government.
Douglas Elmendorf, dean at the Harvard Kennedy School, wrote of his late friend: “I want to offer my gratitude for his insight and wisdom, his unwavering commitment to trying to make the world better, his confidence that the Kennedy School can make an important difference in the world, his generous spirit toward his students and colleagues, and his warm and gracious friendship with me. I will miss him so much.”
Last week, Obama admitted that he made some mistakes when his administration was dealing with Iran as the regime pursued nuclear weapons.
During a podcast, the former president expressed regret about not supporting the 2009 Green Movement against the Islamic Republic by the Iranian people more than he did.
“In retrospect, I think that was a mistake. Every time we see a flash, a glimmer of hope, of people longing for freedom, I think we have to point it out. We have to shine a spotlight on it. We have to express some solidarity about it,” he said.
“There is deep dissatisfaction with the Iranian regime,” he said, pointing to the treatment of women in Iran and its laws.
“There was a big debate inside the White House about whether I should publicly affirm what was going on with the Green Movement because a lot of the activists were being accused of being tools of the West, and there was some thought that we were somehow going to be undermining their street cred in Iran if I supported what they were doing,” he said.
He said that “our moral response to the incredible courage that is taking place in Iran and those women and girls who are on the streets knowing that they’re putting themselves in harm’s way to speak truth to power” is “to affirm what they do and hope that it brings about more space for the kind of civic conversation that over time can take that country down a better path.”
Obama also made some remarks to a group of progressives regarding then-President-elect Donald Trump that were accidentally leaked to Bloomberg recently.
“I think that four years is okay,” he said of the coming Trump presidency, Bloomberg News reported. “Take on some water, but we can kind of bail fast enough to be okay. Eight years would be a problem. I would be concerned about a sustained period in which some of these norms have broken down and started to corrode.”
He said that he did not think Trump wanted to start any wars other than “bombing the heck out of terrorists.”