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General Casey Speaks with Sié Fellows about Nation's Greatest Security Concerns

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Korbel alumnus General George W. Casey Jr., (Ret.) (MA '80), former Chief of the Staff of the U.S. Army and Commander of the Multi-National Force in Iraq, recently took time to sit down to breakfast and talk with the Josef Korbel School's Sié Fellows and undergraduate students. Casey is the Korbel School's inaugural Rice Professor of Practice and is currently teaching a course in civil-military relations.

After opening the discussion by asking the students what they thought was the greatest threat to U.S. national security, Casey presented some of his greatest concerns and thoughts on the way ahead.

"I think the biggest threat is a weapon of mass destruction in the hands of extremists," said Casey. "I've been saying this since 2007 and am very glad to have been wrong for 10 years. We have a situation now where these weapons of mass destruction are no longer the exclusive purview of states."

Casey talked about globalization, interconnectivity and wealth distribution, the unsettling situation in which a minority of the world's population controls the vast majority of the world's wealth. He also cited climate change as a major security concern. Climate change will only increase competition for resources and increase the risk of friction and instability in and between nations.

"We can't win this by ourselves, and we can't just walk away from this and roll up our borders," he said.

The United States must stay engaged in the world, Casey said. Citing his last 15 years in the military, he said he has witnessed that the U.S. has been the indispensable catalyst in the world. At the same time, he said, the U.S. must lead collaboratively, working with the understanding that countries will always act in their own interests, but knowing that common ground can be found.

Lastly, Casey said that in order for the world's largest issues to be solved, integrative multifaceted approaches must be implemented.
"Diplomacy, development and defense need to be deployed together to be successful," he said. "The military alone can't solve these problems."

First-year International Security student Vahaken Mouradian is a Sié Fellow and was in attendance at the event.

"I think this was a testament to the unique opportunities that Korbel offers," he said. "I got a unique perspective, both from the military and civilian perspective, on the prime security challenges that we face both on the national and international level."