Election 2012: The national security agenda
About This Event

Post-Event Summary
Only a week after the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi brought foreign policy to the forefront of the national conversation, surrogates from the Obama and Romney presidential campaigns met to debate how their candidates would approach the most pressing security issues facing the United States.

At the center of the discussion was the state of U.S. defense spending, which stands to be cut drastically by sequestration should the president and Congress fail to reach a compromise by January next year. Obama surrogate Janine Davidson, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for plans, argued that it is not the volume of spending but the type of force deployed that is most significant.

Meanwhile, Dov Zakheim, surrogate for the Romney campaign and former undersecretary of defense, noted that a decreased Pentagon budget imperils America's credibility to keep the peace while raising the question of why defense has been held hostage by partisan politics.

Zakheim characterized the Obama administration as being too passive or even absent on key policy issues, challenging the audience to recall a recent White House statement on Afghanistan. But Davidson defended the administration's use of sanctions to coerce Iran, questioning whether military action would be more productive.

--Mark Bennett

Event Description

Just weeks before the tightly contested November election, join the American Enterprise Institute, the Center for a New American Security and the New America Foundation on Wednesday, September 19, for a debate between top-level surrogates of the Obama and Romney presidential campaigns. Dov S. Zakheim, special adviser on foreign policy and national security for the Romney campaign, will join Janine Davidson, adviser on national security issues for the Obama campaign, to discuss the defense and foreign policy agendas of the two candidates.

This event, the fifth in a series that continues a unique collaboration among the sponsoring institutions during the U.S. presidential campaign season, will be hosted by Arizona State University. A reception will follow.




5:30 PM (MST)

6:00 PM
Opening Remarks:
Michael M. Crow, President, Arizona State University

Janine Davidson, Obama Campaign
Dov S. Zakheim, Romney Campaign
Peter Bergen, New America Foundation
Thomas Donnelly, AEI [http://www.aei.org/scholar/thomas-donnelly/]
Richard Fontaine, Center for a New American Security

7:30 PM

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Mark Bennett at [email protected], 202.862.7184.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact Véronique Rodman at [email protected], 202.862.4871.

Peter Bergen is the director of the New America Foundation’s National Security Studies Program, where he leads the program’s analysis of terrorism, counterinsurgency, South Asia’s geopolitics and other national security concerns. He also serves as CNN's national security analyst and is a fellow at New York University's Center on Law and Security. Bergen has written for many publications including The New York Times, The Washington Post, Vanity Fair, the Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, the International Herald Tribune, The Atlantic, Foreign Affairs and Rolling Stone. He is a contributing editor at The New Republic and has worked as a correspondent for National Geographic Television, Discovery and CNN. Bergen’s books “Holy War, Inc.: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden” (2001) and “The Osama bin Laden I Know: An Oral History of Al Qaeda's Leader” (2006) were named among the best non-fiction books of the year by The Washington Post, and documentaries based on his books were nominated for Emmy awards in 2002 and 2007. His most recent book is “The Longest War: The Enduring Conflict Between America and Al-Qaeda” (2011).

Michael M. Crow became the 16th president of Arizona State University on July 1, 2002. Under his leadership, ASU has established more than a dozen new trans-disciplinary schools and large-scale research initiatives including the Biodesign Institute, the Global Institute of Sustainability, the Mary Lou Fulton Teachers College, the School of Sustainability, and other significant initiatives in the humanities and social sciences. Prior to joining ASU, Crow served as executive vice provost of Columbia University, where he also was professor of science and technology policy in the School of International and Public Affairs. A fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and member of the National Advisory Council on Innovation and Entrepreneurship and Council on Foreign Relations, he is the author of books and articles relating to the design and analysis of knowledge enterprises, technology transfer, sustainable development, and science and technology policy.

Janine Davidson is an adviser on national security issues for the Obama campaign. She is also a an assistant professor in the School of Public Policy at George Mason University and author of “Lifting the Fog of Peace: How Americans Learned to Fight Modern War” (2009). She previously served as the deputy assistant secretary of defense for plans from 2009 to 2012. From 2006 to 2008, she was a director in the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations and Low Intensity Conflict. Davidson has also taught political science and international relations courses at Davidson College in North Carolina (2002) and held positions as an associate at DFI International in Washington, D.C. (2003–2004); a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution (2003–2004 and 2008); and director for counterinsurgency studies at Hicks and Associates in Arlington, Virginia (2004–2005). Davidson began her career in the United States Air Force, where she served as an aircraft commander and senior pilot for C-130 and C-17 cargo aircraft, flying missions over Europe, Asia and the Middle East.

Thomas Donnelly is a defense and security policy analyst and the co-director of the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies at AEI. He is the co-author, with Frederick W. Kagan, of “Lessons for a Long War: How America Can Win on New Battlefields” (2010). Among his recent books are: “Ground Truth: The Future of U.S. Land Power” (2008), coauthored with Frederick W. Kagan; “Of Men and Materiel: The Crisis in Military Resources” (2007), co-edited with Gary J. Schmitt; “The Military We Need” (2005); and “Operation Iraqi Freedom: A Strategic Assessment” (2004). From 1995 to 1999, he was policy group director and a professional staff member for the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Armed Services. Donnelly also served as a member of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission. He is a former editor of Armed Forces Journal, Army Times and Defense News.

Richard Fontaine is the president of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). He served as a senior adviser and senior fellow at CNAS from 2009 to 2012. He previously served as foreign policy adviser to Senator John McCain for more than five years. He has also worked at the U.S. State Department, the National Security Council and on the staff of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Fontaine served as foreign policy adviser to the McCain 2008 presidential campaign and, following that election, as the minority deputy staff director on the Senate Armed Services Committee. Prior to this, he served as associate director for Near Eastern affairs at the National Security Council (NSC) from 2003 to 2004. He also worked in the NSC’s Asian Affairs directorate, where he covered Southeast Asian issues. He is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and is an adjunct professor in the Security Studies Program at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service.

Dov S. Zakheim is a special adviser on foreign policy and national security for the Romney campaign. He is currently a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International and Studies and a senior fellow at the CNA Corporation. He previously served as deputy undersecretary of defense for planning and resources in the Reagan administration and as undersecretary of defense (comptroller) and chief financial officer for the Department of Defense from 2001 to 2004. From 2002 to 2004, Zakheim was also the Defense Department’s coordinator of civilian programs in Afghanistan. He subsequently served as senior vice president of Booz Allen Hamilton until 2010. In addition to being an adjunct scholar at the Heritage Foundation, Zakheim has also been an adjunct professor at the National War College, Yeshiva University, Columbia University and Trinity College. His published work includes “A Vulcan's Tale: How the Bush Administration Mismanaged the Reconstruction of Afghanistan” (2011), “Toward a Fortress Europe? “ (2000), and “Flight of the Lavi: Inside a U.S.-Israeli Crisis” (1996).

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