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Scowcroft, Hadley and Jones Talk about National Security Issues

September 19, 2012 – Three prominent former national security advisors – Brent Scowcroft, Stephen J. Hadley and James L. Jones (F’66) – came to Georgetown today for a panel discussion on National Security in the 21st Century.

Georgetown president John J. DeGioia welcomed the former advisors and panel moderator Fred Kempe, president and chief executive officer of the Atlantic Council, for their “important and timely dialogue.”

“At Georgetown we are honored to play a role in preparing the next generation of leaders, scholars and policymakers who will dedicate their lives to this work to respond to these complex and pressing issues,” DeGioia said, highlighting the School of Foreign Service’s Security Studies Program and Law Center’s Center on National Security and the Law. “These efforts are guided by a defining value of our community – a commitment to … public service.”

Engaging the Middle East

The national security advisors talked about current events in the Middle East, including the instability in Syria and the murder of U.S. Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens.

“The worst reaction to this tragedy would be for us to pull away from the Middle East,” said Hadley, national security advisor to George W. Bush. “We need to engage the Middle East.”

Scowcroft, former national security advisor to Gerald Ford and George H.W. Bush, said the factors of different ethnic and religious groups in Syria, despite its Sunni Muslim majority, make the country’s situation complex.

“I think if Assad left tomorrow, you wouldn’t have a very different Syria,” he said, adding that the U.S. must talk more with Russia, a main ally of Syria, and work with Turkey. “If we intervene in Syria, it is not obvious who comes out ahead and who we want to come out ahead.”

Hope Not a Strategy

Hadley and Jones agreed that the U.S. cannot afford to sit back and do nothing to help mediate the instability in the region and diplomatically engage the countries in the Middle East to work toward a more stable situation.

“You have to understand you just can’t sit back and hope,” said Jones, former national security advisor to President Barack Obama. “Hope is not a strategy.”

The advisors also said the United States must fix its economic woes and political infighting for the good of the country and the world.

“We are in my view in a position right now of … potentially great historical consequences because of our own internal economic situation, that the health of which drives a lot of who we are in the rest of the world,” Jones said.

Shaping Events

Hadley compared today’s current domestic and global situation to the years after World War II, when the U.S. stepped in as a global power and helped Europe rebuild.

“The element for the United States for being in a position to shape those events is our own power and authority in the world,” he said. “And that really is depending on us solving our political problem that prevents us getting our house in order in terms of debt, in terms of indebtedness and getting our economy growing.”

Georgetown’s Office of the President co-sponsored the talk with the student-run Georgetown University Lecture Fund.

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