Former CIA director Petraeus visits Duke

November 12, 2013

You might not think of former CIA director and retired Army General David Petraeus as a jokester, and it’s probably best that you don’t. Yet when he visited campus in September for a question-and-answer session, he drew laughs with a joke about what happened (at a bar) when a Duke student asked a University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill student if he wanted to hear a joke about UNC. (Let’s just say it wasn’t favorable to UNC.)

Beyond that, in a discussion with Peter Feaver, professor of political science and public policy, Petraeus shared his views on sobering topics of the day, from Syria and chemical weapons to the war on terror and Al Qaida. Of Afghanistan, he said, “We will leave forces behind. It’s inescapable, if we don’t want it to crumble, that we will continue to provide support.” Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden “has very much damaged our national security—make no mistake about it,” he said of the leaking of classified documents, while acknowledging the revelations stoked valid questions about the balance between civil liberties and security. He declined to go into detail about drone strikes.

The event was sponsored by the Duke Program in American Grand Strategy and cosponsored by the Sanford School of Public Policy, the Triangle Institute for Security Studies, and the Duke Office of Global Strategy and Programs.