Vice President Kamala Harris told the U.S. Coast Guard Academy’s graduating cadets that they are starting their service at a crucial moment for the world, a period in history when the “rule of law is strained” and “fundamental principles are under threat.”
Harris, in the commencement speech Wednesday at the academy in New London, Connecticut, reflected on the state of the world in which long-standing rules and norms are more frequently coming under attack, noting the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“And the challenges we face are broader than Russia,” Harris said. “Around the world, we see additional attempts to undermine the rules-based order: Nations that threaten the freedom of the seas; criminal gangs and traffickers who skirt the rule of law, and fuel corruption and violence; those that manipulate and undermine the foundations of international commerce.”
The Democratic vice president also made the case that as Coast Guard members the graduates will play an important role in helping the United States uphold the international rules-based order, calling it one of the United States’ “defining missions.”
“Over time, this order has been tried. This order has been tested. And far too often, this order has been taken for granted,” Harris said. “Frankly, sometimes we forget how rare it is in human history to have a period of relative peace and stability among nations.”
Earlier this month, Harris used the commencement address at Tennessee State University in Nashville to urge graduates to apply their leadership skills to help tackle the multitude of challenges posed by an unsettled world.
In her speech at the historically Black university, Harris said the Class of 2022 stands “on the brink of a new frontier,” pointing to the prospects of more breakthroughs in technology and medical research.
But with war raging in Ukraine, the risks from climate change and basic freedoms under threat in the United States, graduates are stepping off into an uncertain future, she said at Tennessee State.
Last year, Harris delivered a commencement speech at the U.S. Naval Academy. President Joe Biden is scheduled to deliver the commencement address at this year’s Naval Academy graduation.