AIF Blog

Youth Report: David Petraeus

Aug 22, 2014

David Petraeus

As part of an initiative to broaden our audience and share ideas across several generations, we invited a range of high school students and recent graduates to join us at this year's Festival. The Youth Report blog series was born out of interviews these enterprising students did with several AIF speakers. We’re thrilled to share their voices here.

By Austin Corona, Middlesex School, Class of 2015

With the rapid and sudden ascension to power that the world watched the extremist group ISIS claim in Northern Iraq and Syria, there is good reason for international concern. I think that General Petraeus is very tactful in his answer in that he takes a measured and thoughtful approach to the problem without jumping to any hasty conclusions. I think that the fact that ISIS could possibly have its own nation in which it controls its own affairs without the hindrance of any national government is very concerning. I think that it is absolutely something to keep a close eye on as the United States and, depending of course on the level of the threat that ISIS poses, move to dismantle any kind of ISIS government formed in the area. From a completely personal point of view, I do not support governments that operate with religion as a heavy influence. It makes for social unrest and often economic and cultural stagnation. So I think that it’s not only necessary to dismantle a possible ISIS government for the sake of our national security but also for the sake of the local people who would be subjected to what will likely be strict Sharia Law similar to that imposed by the Afghani Taliban when they held power in Afghanistan. However, I do entirely agree with General Patraeus in that it is extremely important that we first gauge the level of the threat if there is one and what form it will take. If an ISIS government does turn out to be more benign than previously expected it would be a shame to have lost American lives in the process of a preemptive strike. So I think that an ISIS state would probably be highly concerning and highly detrimental to American interests and local majority interests but that to strike without a proper evaluation of the threat that it would pose.

Q: What does the existence of a self-constructed and recognized state created by ISIS imply in terms of our intervention as the United States?

Petraeus: “Well it is very worrisome and potentially very threatening. In fact, ISIS declared the existence of a caliphate yesterday. We’ll see whether they can truly consolidate it, whether they can administer it, and whether it can become the kind of threat that Al Qaeda posed when it had its own sanctuary in Afghanistan during Taliban rule there, which was the sanctuary in which the 9/11 attacks were planned and where the initial training of the attackers was conducted before the moved on to German and American flight schools. So clearly there would have to be an assessment as to how great of a threat to the homeland or to allies or partners it is, how imminent it is, what form it takes, what types of attacks are potential, and, on the basis of that assessment and an understanding after a good amount of analysis, there would be a determination of what the options might be from the entire realm of the use of national power if you will, everything from covert to overt operations diplomatic initiatives, et cetera. But again it all comes down to what the nature of the threat is and how significant it is, how imminent a threat it poses. And with that understanding, those in Washington would develop options and those of a number of different departments and agencies would develop options for the consideration of the President and the National Security Team.”


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