On a 2005 trip to Iraq, I wrote a column about spending a night on the U.S.S. Chosin, which commanded the U.S. Navy task force off the coast of Iraq. There I interviewed Mustapha Ahansal, a Moroccan American sailor who acted as the Chosin’s Arabic translator when it stopped ships suspected of carrying pirates or other hostile actors.

“The first time I boarded a boat,” he told me, “we had six or seven people — one Hispanic, one Black person, a white person, maybe a woman in our unit. Their sailors said to me, ‘I thought all Americans were white.’ Then one of them asked me, ‘Are you in the military?’ It shocks them actually.” Ahansal told me that an Iraqi Coast Guard officer once expressed astonishment to him that people from so many different religions and races could produce such a strong navy, while “here we are fighting north and south, and we are all cousins and brothers.”

Leadership matters: The American…

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