America’s maritime rivals are inexorably making ceremonial appearances another basis for great power competition. Not only must stressed U.S. ships take the time to show up, they must also show up looking good, managing media coverage and wholeheartedly engaging in the subtle rough and tumble of public diplomacy [JB emphasis]. The stakes are high, and rivals are ready to use anything down to an ill-placed rust streak to diminish the wider public standing of America’s tough grey diplomats. Competitors know that a Navy’s public image and reputation are critical enablers of maritime dominance. But today, for the U.S. Navy, looking good takes too much time, sailors and money away from seemingly more important warfighting-oriented priorities.
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