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Event Summary

Although domestic issues took precedence over foreign policy during the 2012 US presidential election, on Wednesday, AEI and Center for American Progress national security experts emphasized the significance of national security in President Obama’s second term.

AEI’s own Danielle Pletka kicked off the discussion by asking the panelists whether the US has a credibility problem with respect to Obama’s foreign policy. Brian Katulis of the Center for American Progress claimed the US must learn to use threat judiciously in the Middle East, making sure it is part of an overarching strategy.

Paul Wolfowitz of AEI countered that the administration has used mistakes from the past 10 years as an excuse for excessive caution. Wolfowitz said that when Obama was elected, many were hopeful that the president could change the world’s view of America; however, the US is still losing the battle of ideas.

Finally, Rudy deLeon, also of the Center for American Progress, concluded that the US must get its financial house in order and be honest about its budget. Thus, in order to tackle foreign policy concerns, the US government must first address its domestic issues.
— Alex Della Rocchetta

Event Description

Americans voted to keep their commander in chief, but the country is still in for real national security change in the coming months. There will be a new secretary of state, potential new secretary of defense, more transitions in Washington, and continued challenges abroad. Iran’s nuclear program, Syria’s civil war, and the Afghanistan war are just a few of the issues that will be high on the agenda. And then there is the issue of the fiscal cliff and the possible sequestration of $500 billion in defense funds if Congress does not act to stop it. What will change and what will remain the same between now and January 21, 2013?

Join AEI and the Center for American Progress for the first in a series of joint conversations examining major national security challenges in the months and years ahead.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.


2:45 PM

3:00 PM
Rudy deLeon, Center for American Progress
Brian Katulis, Center for American Progress
Danielle Pletka, AEI
Paul Wolfowitz, AEI

4:30 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Alex Della Rocchetta at [email protected], 202.862.7152.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

Rudy deLeon is the senior vice president of national security and international policy at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC. He serves on several nonprofit boards and is a part-time college instructor. DeLeon is a former deputy secretary of defense and was a member of the Deputies Committee of the National Security Council and the National Partnership Council. In his earlier Pentagon assignments from 1997 to 2000, deLeon served as undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, and also as undersecretary of the US Air Force from 1994 to 1997. Before working for the US Department of Defense, deLeon worked as a Capitol Hill staff director, serving on the Committee on Armed Services in the US House of Representatives. After leaving the Pentagon, DeLeon served for five years as a senior vice president for Boeing.

Brian Katulis is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, where he focuses on US national security policy in the Middle East and South Asia. Katulis has served as a consultant to numerous US government agencies, private corporations, and nongovernmental organizations on projects in more than two dozen countries including Iraq, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Egypt, and Colombia. In 1994 and 1995, he was a Fulbright scholar in Amman, Jordan, where he conducted research on the peace treaty between Israel and Jordan. From 1995 to 1998, Katulis lived and worked in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and Egypt for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs. Katulis has published articles in several newspapers and journals, including The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, The Baltimore Sun, and Middle East Policy, among other publications. Katulis is the co-author of “The Prosperity Agenda” (John Wiley & Sons, 2008), a book on US national security.

Danielle Pletka is the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI. Before joining AEI, she served for 10 years as a senior professional staff member for the Near East and South Asia on the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. Pletka writes regularly on the Middle East and South Asia, US national security, terrorism, and weapons proliferation for several American newspapers and magazines. Her writings and interviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, CNN, CBS News, the Los Angeles Times, POLITICO, and many other news outlets. She has testified before Congress on the Iranian threat and other terrorist activities in the Middle East. Pletka is the co-editor of “Dissent and Reform in the Arab World: Empowering Democrats” (AEI Press, 2008) and the co-author of “Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran” (AEI Press, 2011). Her most recent study, “Iranian Influence in the Levant, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan,” was published in May 2012. Pletka is currently working on a follow-up report on US-Iranian competitive strategies in the Middle East, which will be published in the spring of 2012.

Paul Wolfowitz is currently a visiting scholar at AEI. He has spent more than three decades as a public servant and educator, including 24 years in US government service under seven US presidents, four years as US deputy secretary of defense, and two years as president of the World Bank. He has also served as undersecretary of defense for policy and assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs. As ambassador to Indonesia, Wolfowitz became known for his advocacy of reform, political openness, and his interest in development issues, which dates back to his doctoral dissertation on water desalination in the Middle East. He has taught at Yale and Johns Hopkins University, and was dean of the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Ambassador Wolfowitz is also chairman of the US-Taiwan Business Council and serves on the advisory boards of the Clinton Global Initiative, ING Americas, and Brevan-Howard LLP.

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