Hillary Clinton’s campaign is currently vetting retired Admiral James Stavridis as potential vice-president candidate
It’s been almost 30 years since a Greek name appeared in association with the higher ranks of American politics. Then it was Michael Dukakis, who lost the 1988 presidential elections to George H. W. Bush. Now it’s James Stavridis, who is said to have been vetted by the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign to be her running mate, as a candidate for vice president of the United States.
The news was broken by a handful of major news organisations, among them The New York Times and NBC News, claiming sources inside the Clinton campaign confirmed Stavridis’ name as a potential vice president.
According to The New York Times, “sources close to Secretary Clinton say she was always likely to have someone with military experience on her vice-presidential shortlist, and Mr Stavridis […] fits the description. James Stavridis is a retired four-star US Navy admiral who served as the 15th Commander, US European Command and NATO’s 16th Supreme Allied Commander Europe. In that role he oversaw operations in the Middle East — Afghanistan, Libya and Syria — as well as in the Balkans and piracy off the coast of Africa. He retired from the Navy in 2013 after 30 years of service; following that, he became Dean of the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, the oldest school in the United States dedicated solely to graduate studies in international affairs. Stavridis himself earned a PhD and Master of Arts in Law and Diplomacy from the Fletcher School of International Relations in 1984, where he won the Gullion Prize”.
If he gets his name on the Clinton ticket, James Stavridis would be the first naval officer to ride to the highest offices in the US, but also the first Greek American since Dukakis to seek such an office. If elected, he’d be the first Greek American VP since Spiro Agnew, who served under the Nixon presidency (1969-1973).
Born in 1955 in West Palm Beach, Florida, he is the son of Shirley Schaffer and P. George Zafiris Stavridis. His grandparents were Pontian Greeks, raised in northeastern Anatolia, who emigrated to the United States.
Stavridis himself offers a more detailed account of his Greek refugee origins in his 2008 book Destroyer Captain: Lessons of a First Command.
“In the early 1920s, my grandfather, a short, stocky Greek schoolteacher named Dimitrios Stavridis, was expelled from Turkey as part of ‘ethnic cleansing’ (read pogrom) directed against Greeks living in the remains of the Ottoman Empire. He barely escaped with his life in a small boat crossing the Aegean Sea to Athens and thence to Ellis Island. His brother was not so lucky and was killed by the Turks as part of the violence directed at the Greek minority,” he wrote.
Further in the book, he describes a NATO exercise off the coast of modern Turkey as the “most amazing historical irony [he] could imagine,” which prompted him to write of his grandfather: “His grandson, who speaks barely a few words of Greek, returns in command of a billion-dollar destroyer to the very city – Smyrna, now called İzmir – from which he sailed in a refugee craft all those years ago.”