National Security

Wise Words from the NATO Secretary General

July 20, 2019  • Daniel R. Porterfield

Aspen Institute President and CEO Dan Porterfield delivered the below remarks at the Closing Session of the 2019 Aspen Security Forum on July 20, 2019, in Aspen, CO. Follow him on Twitter @DanPorterfield.

Good afternoon. I’m Dan Porterfield, President and CEO of the Aspen Institute, and it’s my pleasure to welcome to you to the closing session of the 2019 Aspen Security Forum.

Please take a moment and join me in thanking all who have made this forum possible:

Thank you to all those who prepared venues, transported travelers, put up tents, cooked meals, and so much more.

Thank you to NBC and MSNBC for your continued partnership.

Thank you to all of our corporate underwriters for their vital support: American Airlines, Accenture, Deloitte, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, McKinsey & Co., MITRE, Oracle, Symantec, and United Launch Alliance.

And, of course, thank you to the Aspen Strategy Group and its Executive Director Nick Burns and co-chairs Joe Nye and Condoleezza Rice, as well as critical team members Jonathon Price, Leah Bitounis, Deb Cunningham, and John Hogan, for a very successful first year in which the ASG has hosted this remarkable forum dedicated to bringing people together to discuss issues and questions regarding our national and global security.

I would like to take a moment to recognize one particular couple who has attended many of our sessions this week—retired Major General John Herrling and his wife Marlene, who have a special role at the Aspen Institute.

John, a member of the 101st Airborne, served two tours of duty in Vietnam, and later held many command positions in America and Europe including serving as Chief of Staff to General John Galvin when he was the NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe. Later, General Herrling was the Director of the American Battle Monuments Commission responsible for the creation of the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC on the Mall. John and Marlene are also my in-laws.

In an era when we face rising nationalism, refugee crises, cyberwar, trade wars, nuclear threats, and emboldened adversaries, the world calls out for solutions. At the Aspen Institute, and in America, and among our global allies, we believe it is networks of values-driven leaders working together who protect the peace and promote prosperity.

It has always been that way. That’s why I was inspired by the words of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in the opening plenary as he discussed the vital importance of NATO: “All for one and one for all,” he said. “We can stand up to any adversary as long as we are together.”

The Secretary General’s comments delivered here in this valley, beneath these mountains, remind me that the Aspen Institute and NATO were founded in the same year, 1949—twin responses to the horrors of World War II, the shocking fact of genocide, and the post-war rise of the totalitarian Soviet system.

On the one hand, in April of 1949, the leaders of the great nations of the West came together amidst America’s monuments to democracy to sign a treaty pledging that they would stand and, if need be, fight together to protect our freedoms and way of life.  And, on the other hand, that same year, leaders of business and academia came together beneath the splendor of the Aspen sky to create an Institute through which people would stand and serve together to promote those same freedoms and way of life.

There is greatness in the fact that we could come together here ten years running and talk freely and openly about global security—respecting disagreement, respecting the freedom of the press, respecting the real complexity of the issues before us, respecting pluralism, and respecting the role and rule of law. What we do here is both the essence of American democracy and the proof that our values and way of life require collective willpower to sustain.

In other words, what the Secretary General said concerning global security is just as true for domestic tranquility: “All for one and one for all. We can stand up to any adversary as long as we are together.”

This is why the Aspen Security Forum matters so much. Thank you for being here.

Now, it is my pleasure to welcome Gus Hunt, Managing Director and Cyber Strategy Lead at Accenture Security, who will introduce our closing conversation.