BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
As in years past, on September 11 The Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab (CELL), a nonprofit entity of the Mizel Institute “dedicated to the prevention of terrorism through education, empowerment, and engagement” hosted “Colorado Remembers 9/11: Commemoration & Security Forum” in the Ellie Caulkins Opera House at the Denver Performing Arts Complex to honor the sacrifice of those who lost their lives 18 years ago and address the threats the world faces today.
The invocation was delivered by Chaplain Joseph Friedman, 140th Wing Support Chaplain of the Colorado National Guard and Pastor Greg McDonald of the Heritage Christian Center.
Sue Held, whose brother, retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Charles E. Jones, was a passenger on American Airlines Flight # 11 that hit the North Tower of the World Trade Center, announced the attacks as bells were tolled. Colorado Governor Jared Polis and Attorney General Phil Weiser stood beside her.
Norm Brownstein, Chairman of event sponsor Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, and the Mizel Institute’s Larry Mizel, Chairman and CEO of MDC Holdings, introduced the forum participants.
As is the tradition, forum moderator Tom Sanderson, co-founder of Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, opened the program by posing the question, “Are we safer today than we were on 9/11 and what are our greatest threats?”
All agreed that heightened awareness makes us safer. Ambassador Chris Hill said he worries most about nuclear weapons and about North Korea. A seasoned professional diplomat, he added, “I hope we can leave politics behind when we hit the water’s edge.” Said General Stanley McChrystal, “Cyber has almost the potential of nuclear attacks as we’ve seen in our own elections.” He also noted that the threat from authoritarian governments around the world raises the likelihood of irrational acts.
In response to a question about how the Trump administration differs from previous administrations, former Congressman Ed Royce said, “My committee (he chaired the House Foreign Affairs Committee) passed sanctions on Iran, North Korea, and Russia that were uncompromising. I want to see a bipartisan effort in the House and Senate that cannot be overridden by a veto (by Trump).” He went on, “We need to have close alliances with our European allies. I want them to feel like they can count on NATO.” He pointed out the importance of our NATO allies believing they can “depend on us so that we can depend on them.” Hill agreed, saying “Spending two percent on their own defense is not the number one issue in NATO. We create such a bad atmosphere, it’s hard for NATO countries to follow us. There’s too much strife, too much pettiness.”
On the question of leaving Afghanistan, McChrystal, who served as Commander of U.S. and International Forces there, said that we will get out eventually, but we must negotiate with the Taliban because “it is the heart of Afghan society.” He went on, “It is a long-term process. They’ve had four decades of war.” Hill, the experienced diplomat, said “ending wars is a lot harder than starting them.” He continued, “We should be careful about deploying the President. He is a very important symbol. There has to be a sequence in diplomacy.” He gave the example that if the President doesn’t succeed in negotiations, “Who do we send next?”
On Iran, McChrystal pointed to the U.S. historically supporting the corrupt Shah of Iran and later Iraq in its war with Iran. He concluded, “They have a good reason to be pretty p—-d off at us.” Royce said the way forward is to reach out to the young people of Iran. He also went back to the theme of our need to rekindle our relationship with Europe.
On the Iran agreement entered into by President Obama and rejected by President Trump, Royce said that Europe was glad to get the business that came with it. McChrystal supported the agreement. Said Hill, a supporter, “Whenever I see these things, my first question is, ‘Compared to what?’ Sanctions can bring them to the table, not to their knees.”
On terrorism around the globe, McChrystal said, “Al Qaeda is a corporate model. They’ve been quietly rebuilding their infrastructure around the world. ISIS is like a start-up. Both rely on fertile ground. With technology it’s easier to reach people.” Royce offered the idea that the U.S. should work to empower women around the world because “they raise the young boys.”
Sanderson asked Hill whether President Trump deserves credit for what he has done with Kim Jong Un in North Korea. Hill was Assistant Secretary of State and chief U.S. negotiator with North Korea from 2005-2009. He said, “This has been going on for 50 years. It’s not about North Korea having nuclear weapons to protect themselves from us. They want us to reduce our presence in the area so that we will lose influence in the area (with China, Japan, and South Korea). Things were quiet so President Trump started something, but with inadequate preparation it became a mess and Trump turned it into reality TV. Then he said, ‘We fell in love.’ To pose Tina Turner’s question, “What’s love got to do with it?”
The dozens of local event sponsors of The CELL event included FirstBank, The El Pomar Foundation, The Anna & John J. Sie Foundation, The Anschutz Foundation, Buz & Sherri Koelbel, NexGen, Dick & Eddie Robinson, Lockheed Martin, Alpine Bank, EY, The University of Denver, Cigna, Centre Communities, East West Partners, and the Denver Post Community Foundation.
2018 All Rights Reserved. Villager Publishing |