Former CIA Director Speaks At Harvard Foreign Affairs Forum


Harvard campus in the spring. IMG: via Shutterstock.

If you’ve recently pondered the current state of the United States’ foreign relations with Middle Eastern countries, experts are postulating that the outlook is better now than it has been in recent years. One such expert is David Petraeus, chairman of the KKR Global Institute and former Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director, who spoke at Harvard’s “Israel, Iran, and the Arab Revolution” forum at the esteemed academic institution earlier this month. The forum was moderated by Graham Allison, the Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and also included Meir Dagan, Director of the Mossad from 2002-2010.

According to Think Progress, “David Petraeus said that he believes the chances that the U.S. and its international partners will reach a final nuclear agreement with Iran are better now than they have been at any point through the negotiations,” shining a positive light on the situation. Back in December, President Obama didn’t have such an optimistic outlook when he said, “If you ask me what is the likelihood that we’re able to arrive at the end state […] I wouldn’t say that it’s more than 50-50,” he explained, also noting that even still, “we have to try.”

Petraeus addressed this very same statement from Obama, explaining, “The prospect is actually now maybe better than 50/50, which is not something we would have said even a few weeks ago, much less months ago,” of the present outlook. Petraeus also said that “None of this is easy and you know there’s an alternative out there, which is you don’t get anything and you end up with a strike,” in response to Dagan’s point that there ought to be consequences should Iran cheat on the international agreement. Having been involved with the United States military and the CIA at such a pivotal time, Petraeus is equipped with the insights necessary to evaluate the military’s place in this international situation. He says, “The alternative to successful diplomacy – military action – carries its own set of costs and risks,” of the way that such action can affect the global economy.

The forum represented a fascinating insight into the current status of U.S. foreign relations with Middle Eastern nations. Learn more by visiting Think Progress’ coverage of the event.

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