September 28, 2017

General (Ret.) David H. Petraeus, partner at investment firm KKR, chairman of the KKR Global Institute, and former director of the Central Intelligence Agency
Vali Nasr, Dean of Johns Hopkins SAIS

The world is witnessing a shift in the global political order and stability will depend on the next generation of leaders in international relations, according to General David H. Petraeus, retired four-star general and former CIA director. Speaking to a room of current students, alumni, and supporters of Johns Hopkins SAIS, Petraeus highlighted the importance of the school's mission to prepare professionals to manage the international ties of the future.

Moderated by Dean Vali Nasr, the discussion delved deeply into national security, cyber warfare, and lessons learned from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. Petraeus shared stories from his term commanding US coalition forces in both countries. Responding successfully to an insurgency led by extremists required a comprehensive military campaign in occupied areas, Petraeus explained. "The paradox of these fights is that you cannot counter terrorist forces like the Islamic State and Al Qaeda with just counter-terrorist force operations," he said. "You can't drone strike or Delta Force raid your way out of this problem. This is the fight of a generation, therefore a sustained commitment is required," he said.

Answering an audience question, Petraeus advised students to push themselves in intellectual areas outside their comfort zones to grow as leaders, citing his own graduate school experience as formative to his military career.

As the inaugural speaker of the David H. Bernstein Forum, Petraeus provided a highly candid view of world events. The forum—endowed by the Johns Hopkins University alumnus and former member of the board of trustees, David H. Bernstein—will bring to the school speakers of renowned international stature to discuss various issues affecting global policy.

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