The NHIOP Welcomes Back General David H. Petraeus

February 10, 2022

By Grace Trabucchi '23

The New Hampshire Institute of Politics welcomed back former head of U.S. central command and CIA director General David H. Petraeus in a virtual zoom event on Feb. 3, 2022 as part of the Institute’s Speaker Series. Gen. Petraeus met with participants via zoom with moderator Phil Taub, co-founder and President of the Board of Swim with a Mission, Inc., to discuss the “State of the World'' in honor of the NHIOP’s 20th anniversary celebration. He last spoke at the Institute in March of 2010 when he touched upon issues such as Afghanistan and the global “War on Terror.”   

A lot has changed in the state of our world since General Petraeus’ last visit over ten years ago, and while he is no longer head of U.S. central command, Taub posed his questions to Petraeus on larger current events such as the U.S.’s hasty withdrawal from Afghanistan, which Petraeus described as “heartbreaking, tragic, and disastrous.”  

The General also went on to discuss a range of other topics, such as Putin’s actions towards Ukraine, the current relationship between China and the U.S., and lessons that can be learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. To convey the overall theme of the U.S.’s role in all these events, Petraeus used the analogy of a man in a circus trying to spin a bunch of plates at once, with the U.S. being the man trying to spin all the plates, and the plates representing different countries such as North Korea, Russia, and China.  

While there was not enough time to get to all the student questions, Petraeus closed by providing some advice to the Saint Anselm students watching. He emphasized that “hard work, application, focus, and interpersonal skills are the ingredients for the chance of achieving something substantial.” 

Despite the event being virtual due to COVID restrictions, students in the NHIOP’s Kevin B. Harrington Ambassador Program packed the auditorium to watch the event together and potentially get their submitted questions answered by General Petraeus. This was particularly exciting for students in the program because last year’s covid restrictions prevented a watch party.  

Student ambassador, Connor O’Neill ’22, commented on the event, saying, “Hearing General Petraeus speak was highly interesting and engaging. He was able to speak to both foreign and domestic politics without entering the realm of partisan politics, which is exceedingly refreshing in our current political climate. Everyone was very interested in the subject matter being presented, and engaged with the material spoken about General Petraeus."

Watch the full event here

General Petraeus graduated from West Point Military Academy in 1974 and went on to serve in the U.S. military for 37 years. During the duration of his service, Petraeus led over six consecutive commands, those of which included him being appointed head of U.S. central command, and was also specifically asked by President Obama to take direct command of the American war effort in Afghanistan. Since his retirement in November 2012, he has gone on to become a partner in the global investment firm KKR and is also a chairman in KKR’s Global Institute.    

Since its founding in 2001, the Institute has welcomed a number of notable people to the college for their Speaker Series, including Former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, and John King, CNN’s chief national correspondent. The Speaker Series has been and continues to be a wonderful opportunity for students and local citizens to meet and interact with important figures such as General Petraeus.