Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, stresses global interdependence
Mullen began by speaking about what he called “strategic ecology,” which he described as the interdependence of the world today, including trends ranging from the decline of rural economies to increasing joblessness to cyber dependence. He expressed his concerns over how people have had an increasingly difficult time looking at the bigger picture, saying that people need to have a broader worldview.
Following this introduction, Mullen jumped into a discussion of China and the rest of the Asia-Pacific, emphasizing the importance of having a relationship with the region that would allow both sides to thrive. Mullen said the relationship with that region is and would continue to be the most important in the world.
“If you’re going to solve problems in the world, you’re going to have to have thriving economies,” Mullen said. “Moms and dads want to raise their kids in a peaceful environment, and they’d like to have their kids be better off than they were.”
He then moved on to talk about India, with which he said America’s relationship “has never been better,” emphasizing the upside potential for both the country and the world as a whole.
Mullen then described his concerns about the Middle East and, in particular, the threat of nuclear proliferation in the 21st century, saying that Iran was definitely on the path to acquiring nuclear weapons. The United States needs to come up with a new vision on handling nuclear weapons for the future, Mullen said, since the old rules aren’t going to work anymore.
“Too often we are relying on what we did in the 20th century, when it was just the Soviet Union and the United States,” Mullen said. “Those rules aren’t going to work, and I’m as anxious as anybody else to see them all go away from the planet. I’d love to do that by wishing them away — I would. That isn’t going to happen.”
Mullen also expressed uncertainty as to what would happen in more volatile regions of the world and emphasized that it is important to be mindful about what the nations themselves would find acceptable. The United States can’t do everything alone anymore, Mullen said, arguing that this is no longer a world America can control, but only a world America can influence.
Finally, Mullen turned to America itself, looking at some of what he felt are its greatest vulnerabilities — namely the education system, the debt, the paralysis in Washington and the growing cyber world.
The state of the education system, Mullen explained, is the biggest long-term vulnerability for the nation. People have been worrying about the education system falling apart for the past few decades, and the problem can be seen in the trend of school results. But Mullen said nothing has been changed significantly.
Following that, Mullen described his worries about the financial crisis along with the political paralysis in Washington, calling the financial crisis a true national security issue and the paralysis in Washington the worst he’s ever seen.
“We’ve got to get our own house in order, not to just take care of ourselves,” Mullen said, “but to start to answer the question I see around the world, in terms of ‘Who are you these days, United States?’ from our friends and our enemies.”
Mullen wrapped up his lecture by addressing what he called the final major threat that America is, and will be, facing — cyberterrorism and other cyberattacks. In light of the cyberattacks on the United States in the past few years, the most recent of which were the Iranian attempts on U.S. banks, Mullen called on leaders to try to understand more of the problem themselves rather than just turning to technical experts to deal with such threats.
“The day is long gone where we can just turn it over to our best technical expert and say, ‘Please fix that, and then let me know when my system’s back up,’ ” Mullen said. “It is a capability that, I think, can actually bring us to our knees.”
Reader Comments (0)
No comments yet. Be the first to post your opinion on this article.