Yesterday afternoon, Georgetown University played host to a panel discussion with former presidential military advisors Brent Scowcroft, Stephen J. Hadley and James L. Jones. The President and Chief Executive Officer of the Atlantic Council, Fred Kempe, moderated the event.
Opening remarks made by President John J. DeGioia, Scowcroft, Hadley and Jones focused on the future of the field of national security at the onset of the 21st century and the implications for the United States as a world power.
The former military advisors began by on the evolution of the national security and their insights into their roles as former presidential advisors. Scowcroft (1975-1977 and 1989-1993 ) reflected on his time in office:
When I first became National Security Advisor, the Cold War was still on, and that was the strategy. We had the strategy laid out for us, and that was to put our arms around the Soviet Union to keep it from breaking out until it disintegrated; that was a given. We argued a lot about the tactics of how you do this and how you do that, but the strategy was given. Now the strategy is not a given, as a matter of fact, there is probably not a strategy right now that is all-encompassing the world around.
Jones (2009-2010) and Hadley (2005-2009) reaffirmed Scowcroft’s statement, calling the world “asymmetrical.” They agreed that the United States is currently grappling with the task of situating itself in the new world order of the 21st century.
Following their reflections on the changing nature of national security, the discussion shifted toward United State’s role on the world stage and the impact of the current economic recession on national defense policy. “My observation about how they [great nations] decline is that the world has changed, the environment has changed and they try to cling on to the old model,” Jones said.