Russia and Ukraine will ultimately agree to a negotiated resolution of the war that began after Russia's brutal and unprovoked invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, retired U.S. Army Gen. David Petraeus said.
Petraeus, who served 37 years in the U.S. military, and is a former director of the Central Intelligence Agency, spoke Tuesday to a capacity crowd of 700 at The Society of the Four Arts in Palm Beach. He was head of the 101st Airborne in Iraq, head of coalition forces in Iraq, and commander of CENTCOM. Petraeus, 70, is a partner in the global investment firm KKR and chairman of the KKR Global Institute.
In a question-and-answer session with New York Times opinion columnist Bret Stephens, Petraeus described geopolitical challenges around the world from China to Mexico.
Eventually, Russian President Vladimir Putin will realize the war is not sustainable on the battlefield - where more than 100,000 Russian soldiers have been killed - or economically, he said.
Russia's economic development is estimated to be set back by a decade, and 1,200 U.S. and other western nation companies have left Russia or drawn back their operations.
Ukraine's infrastructure, including its electrical transmission and generation capabilities and water systems, and economy are heavily damaged, and that damage is not sustainable over time, Petraeus said.
It's unlikely Ukraine will be accepted into NATO as other countries probably will not agree to that, Petraeus said.
"If you can't get into NATO, there has to be an ironclad security guarantee led by the U.S. If the U.S. doesn't lead it, it will not happen" Petraeus said.
Petraeus praised Ukraine's military prowess and called Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's leadership "Churchillian brilliance."
"A country one-third the size of Russia now has a larger and more capable army on Ukrainian soil than does Russia," Petraeus said. "The entire country is in engaged in fighting its war of independence. We need to give them everything we possibly can."
While Ukraine deployed drones and spies that located Russian headquarters, petroleum supply points and ammunition depots and took those out, the war is nothing like a technology-based war between two superpowers would be, he said.
Petraeus predicts that future wars will include vast numbers of unmanned, algorithmically driven weaponry.
But the complexity of the geopolitical system goes way beyond the current war, he said, noting that since 2019 prior to the pandemic, the world has experienced "tectonic and seismic" changes.
"When I left the CIA a decade ago, we were in an era of benign globalization," Petraeus said. "It seemed as if it would go on forever. Economics determine geopolitics. Now we are in an era of renewed great power rivalries."
The focus is rightly on China, its rise and its actions including economic coercions, physical intimidation and killing Indian soldiers in 2020 over a disputed border.
"What is unique is we have never had as many threats and challenges as we have right now, nor the complexity of the threats and challenges," Petraeus said.
Petraeus compared the situation to a circus performer juggling plates spinning on a stick. China is the biggest "plate," but others are North Korea, Iran, Islamic extremist groups and cyber security threats.
Opposed to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan in 2021, Petraeus said there were better alternatives such as keeping 3,500 troops on the ground and beefing up the number of drones. He served as commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
While border security and illegal immigration from Mexico are big political issues, other issues are greater. Mexico is run by criminal empires that are heavily armed and financed and have taken over entire Mexican states.
Despite the challenges, Petraeus said he is confident about America's future. The United States will end up being the biggest chip manufacturer as technology that originated in the U.S comes home, he said.
"My wife and I have invested in 25 startups over the last eight or nine years, including our daughter-in-law's. It just gets you excited. I find great young leaders who have brilliant big ideas and the capacity to scale them," Petraeus said.
The United States has more of those opportunities than anywhere else in the world, he said.
"That is what has made America great again and again. That is what will make America great again," Petraeus said.
Petraeus quoted Warren Buffet's well-known saying that it never pays to bet against America.
"I am firmly in his camp," Petraeus said.
This article originally appeared on Palm Beach Daily News: Petraeus: Russia and Ukraine will agree to negotiated resolution of war
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