The United States must become more engaged in the world if it is to ensure its
own security, visiting former secretary of homeland security Tom Ridge said
Speaking at the annual International Conference on Homeland
Security in Tel Aviv, Ridge said he could not speculate on what path the Obama
administration will take when it is sworn in for a second term in January. But
he added that as an American, he hopes the president “will not cede our future”
to the United Nations or to other countries.
“At the end of the day,
America should be more engaged and not less,” Ridge said. “America must
demonstrate that our friends are our friends and that we are united with our
allies. Our enemies need to know that we’re not as interested in being liked as
in being respected.”
Ridge, a former Pennsylvania governor who now heads
security consulting firm Ridge Global, noted that there was pressure from both
sides of politics for the United States to distance itself from global
“On the Republican side, there is a small element in our party
that would prefer us to be isolationist,” he said. “And on the Democrats side
there are those who are economic isolationists, the ‘Buy American’ crowd, that
group that refuse to accept that the market is global and that you’d better be
engaged in it.”
Interviewer Dana Weiss, moderator of Channel 2’s Meet the
Press, asked Ridge to list the biggest challenges that have emerged for US
homeland security since he was in charge of the department in
Ridge said that one of the major challenges has been keeping up
with the increasing complexity of global terrorism, as al-Qaida’s ideology has
spread to a growing network of regional organizations and individuals. He also
listed support of sovereign governments for terrorist organizations, giving the
example of Iranian backing for Hezbollah and the Palestinian Islamic
One of the most important tasks facing the United States and its
allies is to prepare for the unexpected, according to Ridge.
must prepare themselves as well as they can for a black swan event, to be able
to show resilience,” Ridge said.
He praised Israel for its level of
preparation for a major catastrophe, naming its response and recovery capability
as one of the country’s greatest strengths.
The scandal involving General
David Petraeus, who resigned from his position as CIA director last Friday over
an extramarital affair, was also raised during the interview.
that Petraeus’s own personal issues notwithstanding, there was no reason to
believe that his actions had impaired US security.
“I don’t know General
Petraeus well, but I do know him as an extraordinary patriot, a great warrior
and an architect of successful counter terror strategies in Iraq and
Afghanistan,” Ridge said.
“Although there will be some questions about
whether or not the investigation into the email trail has somehow impaired
America’s security, I say with a great deal of confidence that I would be one of
the most surprised individuals to learn that in any manner, shape or form this
patriot, this warrior, this extraordinary individual did anything to compromise
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