A typical New America opportunity to hear what the distinguished General might have had to say if asked good questions, but his appearance here resulted in fairly standard answers on various topics raised by the interlocutor, with few surprises, except perhaps for his emphasis on the terrorism conflict as essentially a battle within the Islamic world whose nations it threatens more than us – “it is much much more a fight for the future of Islamic countries, it is an existential threat to them”, and his wise admonition that if a great change is contemplated (as with Brexit, the possible exit of Britain from the EU), it is urgent to assess whether “the enormous disruption you will have to go through is worthwhile” (with Brexit, he judged it wasn’t), but otherwise essentially summed up in the five “lessons” he has learned from his battle and intelligence experience, including such fundamental but perhaps obvious rules as “any ungoverned state will be taken over by ISIS”, “the ramifications of such takeover will not be contained, as Syria shows”, “as by far the most dominant military and intelligence leader we have to take the lead but in unison with allies as far as possible”, our joint counter “has to be a comprehensive effort not simply an anti terrorist campaign”. and defeating radicalism “will be a multigenerational task, you can’t put a stake through ideas”, but nothing which might have plumbed the changes in his way of thinking over time, such as the question we contemplated but in vain, “have you become less interventionist over the last ten years, do you think?”, but the session did offer a rare chance to see him in close up, including his strikingly dapper appearance complete with highly polished black shoes, his air of emotional sensitivity beyond the normal military measure, and his noticeably individual intelligence, with its respect for the complexities of issues such as gun laws, although sadly not sufficiently challenged by the friendly British questioner.
A Conversation With
Gen. David H. Petraeus
The War on Terror. ISIS and al-Qaeda. Cyber-warfare and the conflicts of the future.
The United States’ national security portfolio is as complex as ever. What will the next president’s national security challenges be? Join New America’s Peter Bergen as he talks with General (Ret.) David H. Petraeus about the key national security issues facing American policymakers.
General (Ret.) David H. Petraeus
Chairman, KKR Global Institute
Former Director, U.S. Central Intelligence Agency
Former Commander, Multi-National Force – Iraq
Former Commander, U.S. Forces and the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan
Peter Bergen @peterbergencnn
Vice President and Director, International Security Program, New America
National Security Analyst, CNN
Author, United States of Jihad: Investigating America’s Homegrown TerroristsA Conversation with Gen. David H. Petraeus
Monday, June 20, 2016
6:30 PM – 8:00 PM EST
156 Fifth Avenue, Second Floor
New York, NY 10010