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General offers outlook on US, world challenges

Retired Army Gen. Jack Keane gave a "sense of the challenges that the United States is facing in this world" during his presentations Tuesday at Cameron University for the Academic Festival X, "American Identities in the 21st Century." Keane spoke to ROTC cadets, to students and, in the evening, to visitors in the Aggie Gym on the festival's sub-theme of "America's Place in the World: Power, Diplomacy and Commerce." 

"The global security challenges that the United States is facing are on a scale that we haven't seen since the end of World War II and the arrival of the Soviet Union," he said. "Also, the post-Cold War Era is over. That began in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union and the United States found itself as the world's only superpower."

Since then, the U.S. has been involved in operations and challenges including 9/11 for almost 17 years and the world has changed dramatically during that time. 

Now, with a lot of our military resources used after 9/11 we have returned to a time when other countries are competing with us and reaching for global power and "want to change the international order," he said.

"Today we find ourselves returning" to a time where Russia and China are reaching for global power and changing international order, he said. 

Although Keane retired in 2003 after 37 years of active duty, including as acting chief of staff, he is extremely knowledgeable of the United States' global security challenges. Between 2004 to 2014, he was integral in assisting and advising senior defense officials including Gen. David Petraeus during frequent trips to Iraq and Afghanistan. He still appears regularly before Congress to testify about foreign policy and national security and serves as a senior military analyst for Fox News as well as speaking about leadership and national security nationwide. 


During his presentation, Keane spoke about those countries wanting to change the international order including Syria, Iran, "Russia, although not on the scale of the Soviet Union, is geopolitically ambitious, dangerous and capable. ... (and) China, which is already well on its way to dominating the Pacific region ... who used to keep its political ambitions to itself, keep it secret ... they now talk openly about what they want to achieve."

What China's president believes, by 2030, is they "will replace the United States as preeminent power in the world, why because of economics and also because of a rapidly expanding military capability." 

ISIS and other radical orders with the same belief system are also a major global threat, he said. "They are not all interrelated, there is not a single entity that controls them ... but they are all radical ... but they have a common belief system and that is what makes them challenging because we are dealing with an ideology."

Then Keane spoke about the threat from North Korea, which has had nuclear weapons since 2006 and they are now pointing them at the United States. 

The threat of North Korea

During the press conference following the student presentation, Keane talked more about North Korea in response to questions by the media.

The readiness of North Korea to be able to go to war was discussed in December 2017, when CIA Director Mike Pompeo said publicly 'that North Korea is just months away from solving their last technological problem with the miniaturized nuclearized ICBMs  that is the reentry problem," Keane said, adding that, for now, that capability has been delayed.

"Our main effort in the United States, is the diplomatic, economic sanction effort, strengthened by a credible military option that gives credence and intensity to that economic sanctions. I think that is why so many countries are now participating in cutting off trade to North Korea," he said. "No president before has had as much success as this one has because of two realities: 1. the fact that North Korea has changed its policy and is going to a nuclearized ICBM, that is not something that Obama was dealing with for most of his administration ... and also, the fact that the military option is back on the table and this administration continues to talk about it." 

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