United States Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta addressed Georgetown students in Gaston Hall on February 6th. Panetta spoke about the challenges facing the country today in terms of security and leadership. The outgoing Secretary of Defense warned against partisan gridlock as an increasing risk to international security. He stressed the importance of overcoming partisan gridlock and repairing the loss of trust it creates between citizens and Congress. He explained, “What I see as the most urgent task facing this nation and facing all of us … is overcoming the partisan dysfunction that poses a threat to our quality of life, to our national security, to our economy [and] to our ability to address the problems that confront this country.”
Panetta called for true leadership to overcome the divide, and make the tough decisions necessary to avoid crisis. “Today crisis drives policy.” He noted that it is much simpler to make an unpopular decision in the face of crisis. Such situations allow leaders to relinquish responsibility for their decisions. “It has become too politically convenient to simply allow a crisis to develop and get worse and then react to the crisis. You create an aura, a constant uncertainty that pervades every issue and gradually undermines the very credibility of this nation to govern itself.”
Panetta has served as the head of the Department of Defense since July 2011. His speech was one of the last before his retirement from public service.
Watch the speech: Here