According to the former director of the CIA, one of the biggest challenges facing President Barack Obama as he embarks on a second term is restoring America's reputation in the world.
Gen. Michael V. Hayden, who headed the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency under President George W. Bush, made the assessment during a stop this afternoon at Duquesne University.
"One of his top priorities," Gen. Hayden said of the president, "is countering the perception that has built up over the last year or two of America in retreat. But I want to be clear that I'm talking about a perception. And how does the president do that in what we all know is a fiscal climate that is very challenging?"
Gen. Hayden, a native of the North Side and a graduate of Duquesne, is in town for a weekend speech that is part of the university's Veterans Day commemoration. The visit will include a presentation this afternoon on global security issues.
Gen. Hayden said "the short answer" to the question of what lies ahead for the president is "the world is going to tell him."
"But there are four issues that are going to come down the pike at him. First, is Iran [and its development of nuclear weapons]. The clock's ticking. My personal belief is that sanctions will punish the Iranians, but I'm skeptical that it will change their minds. Sometime in his second administration, we're going to get to that point that we all fear: Do something or do nothing. I would let the current hand play out. Use the sanctions and talk to them.
"The second is China. I'm not talking about China being an enemy. I'm talking about China being bigger and stronger, which it just is. We have to accommodate that and adjust. And the Chinese have a new leadership, so it's important that we get acquainted with the new team. And, frankly, we'll probably be doing that with a new team here as the administration goes through changes. [Almost as Gen. Hayden spoke, current CIA Director David Petraeus announced he was resigning, citing an extramarital affair.]
"Third is cyber. We now recognize the threat and they're coming at us. Right now, we do not have clear legal or policy guidance. ... that we need to have our cyber warriors to guard us. There's a lot of debate about regulation and privacy and those things have to be resolved in order for us to defend ourselves.
"And finally, there's terrorism, with the attack in Benghazi showing that al-Qaida is weakened, but they're not out of the fight."
This story originally appeared in The Pittsburgh Press. To log in or subscribe, go to: http://press.post-gazette.com/