Early this week, I was honored to welcome former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin to campus for the Issam M. Fares Lecture.

Serving as the French Minister of Foreign Affairs from 2002 to 2004 and Minister of the Interior from 2004 to 2005, de Villepin has been revered as a global world leader and for his support of the UN; he is probably most well-known for his opposition to the Iraq War, which he declared during a stirring speech at the UN in 2003.

Prior to the Fares Lecture, I sat down with de Villepin to hear more about his formidable career, as well as where he’s currently focusing his time and energy. You can watch our conversation below:

De Villepin’s remarks on campus focused on the perennial issue in the Middle East – the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He stated that there is no viable two-state solution on the table anymore because there are no partners for peace. (He also doubted if President Trump’s envoy charged with coming up with a solution to conflict – Jared Kushner – would be successful in brokering a deal. I share this sentiment.)  But what I found most interesting was the way Monsieur le Ministre explored the many changes transforming the Middle East at present. From the rise of regional powers like Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Iran, and new alliances fostering frontline conflict, the region is rife with tension. However, these critical challenges present the opportunity to employ soft power – diplomacy, development, humanitarian aid – to win battles where, for so long, hard power alone has failed.

In de Villepin’s own words, “we cannot be in the globalized world, efficiently, alone.”

I don’t think truer words have been spoken. In 2012, I had the great privilege of presenting a TED talk, where I asked the audience to imagine global security driven by collaboration — among agencies, government, the private sector, and the public. Sharing vivid moments from recent military history, I explained why 21st century security should be about bridging divides not building walls. You can watch that talk, which still resonates today, below:

As always, thanks for reading – and watching.

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