General David Petraeus

Former CIA Director

Max Boot

Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

Assessing the Geopolitical Challenges Facing the U.S. (and the "Return of History")

About the Speaker

General David Petraeus 

Former CIA Director

General (Ret) David H. Petraeus is a retired four-star general and former Director of the CIA.  During the 37 years of his military career, General Petraeus served in cold war Europe, the United States, Central America, Haiti, Bosnia, Kuwait, Iraq, and Afghanistan. In the decade following the 9/11 attacks, he was deployed for nearly seven years, culminating his career with six consecutive commands, five of which were in combat.

General Petraeus commanded the 101st Airborne Division during the fight to Baghdad in 2003 and throughout the first year in Iraq, this division was noted for having achieved a unique degree of success through a comprehensive counter-insurgency approach. He returned to Iraq in June 2004, having left only a few months earlier, to establish and lead both the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq and the NATO Training Mission-Iraq, completing that tour in September 2005. After returning from Iraq in the fall of 2008, General Petraeus took command of the U.S. Central Command, overseeing the operations of all U.S. forces in the Middle East and Central and South Asia. In early July 2010, he deployed again, this time to command the NATO International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces in Afghanistan.

Following retirement from the military, in 2011, General Petraeus was appointed Director of the CIA during a period of many achievements in the global counter-terrorism effort.

General Petraeus has received numerous awards and medals from the U.S. military, State Department, NATO and United Nations and has been decorated by 13 foreign countries.

Since leaving government, General Petraeus has been a partner with the global investment firm KKR and the Chairman of the KKR Global Institute.  He is also a member of the board of Optiv (a global provider of cyber security solutions and services), a Judge Widney Professor at the University of Southern California, a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Belfer Center, Co-Chairman of the Woodrow Wilson Institute’s Global Advisory Council, Senior Vice President of the Royal United Services Institute, and a member of the boards of the Institute for the Study of War, the Atlantic Council, and 10 veterans service organizations General Petraeus graduated with distinction from the U.S. Military Academy and subsequently earned M.P.A. and Ph.D. degrees in an interdisciplinary program of international relations and economics from Princeton University's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.

Max Boot

Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow for National Security Studies, Council on Foreign Relations

Max Boot is a military historian and foreign policy analyst, who has been called one of the “world’s leading authorities on armed conflict” by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. He is the Jeane J. Kirkpatrick Senior Fellow in National Security Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York.

His book, “The Road Not Taken: Edward Lansdale and the American Tragedy in Vietnam,” published in January 2018, became a New York Times best seller.

Mr. Boot has served as an advisor to U.S. commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was also a senior foreign policy advisor to John McCain’s presidential campaign in 2007–2008, a defense policy advisor to Mitt Romney’s campaign in 2011–2012, and the head of the Counter-Terrorism Working Group for Marco Rubio’s campaign in 2015-2016.

Mr. Boot is a contributing editor to the Weekly Standard and the Los Angeles Times, and a regular contributor to The New York Times, The Wall Street JournalCommentary, and other publications.

He is the author of three previous widely acclaimed books: The New York Times’s bestseller “Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present,” which The Wall Street Journal said “is destined to be the classic account of what may be the oldest as well as the hardest form of war”; “War Made New: Technology, Warfare, and the Course of History, 1500 to Today,” which was hailed as a “magisterial survey of technology and war” by The New York Times; and “The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power,” which won the 2003 General Wallace M. Greene Jr. Award from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation as the best nonfiction book pertaining to Marine Corps history and was placed on Army, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Navy professional reading lists.

Mr. Boot is a frequent public speaker and guest on radio and television news programs, both at home and abroad. He has lectured on behalf of the U.S. State Department and at many military institutions, including the Army, Navy, and Air War Colleges, the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare School, West Point and the Naval Academy. In 2004, he was named by the World Affairs Councils of America as one of “the 500 most influential people in the United States in the field of foreign policy.” In 2007, he won the Eric Breindel Award for Excellence in Opinion Journalism, given annually to a writer who exhibits "love of country and its democratic institutions" and "bears witness to the evils of totalitarianism."

Before joining the Council in 2002, Mr. Boot spent eight years as a writer and editor at The Wall Street Journal, the last five as op-ed editor. From 1992 to 1994 he was an editor and writer at The Christian Science Monitor.

Max Boot holds a bachelor’s degree in history, with high honors, from the University of California, Berkeley, and a master’s degree in history from Yale University. He was born in Russia, grew up in Los Angeles, and now lives in New York.