FULTON, Mo.- A well-known retired general warns that the United States must keep its “eyes wide open” when cooperating with Russia.
Retired Gen. David Petraeus spoke at Saturday’s Churchill weekend activities at Fulton’s Westminster College. Petraeus tells Missourinet Russia is not a U.S. ally.
“We have no alliance with them,” Petraeus says. “It is certainly correct to observe that there are places where our objectives may converge. I think Russia wants to see the defeat of Islamic extremists, just as we do.”
But Petraeus says there are more cases where those objectives tend to conflict.
Former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher warned about the revival of a Russia that would be less friendly to the United States, when she spoke at Westminster in 1996.
Petraeus was honored as a Churchill Fellow on Saturday, and delivered a lecture before a packed Church of St. Mary the Virgin, Aldermanbury.
Petraeus says while Russia is not a U.S. ally, the United States should continue strategic dialogue with them.
“I do believe that it’s possible that there could be some agreements on certain issues let’s say in Syria, but certainly not in Ukraine or in some other areas where Russia has threatened its neighbors,” says Petraeus.
Petraeus says this will be a “difficult relationship”, and one where the United States needs a coalition of countries joining together.
The former CIA director describes NATO as the “greatest alliance of our times”.
There were several hundred people at Saturday’s activities, which lasted all day. During a morning media availability inside the National Churchill Museum, General Petraeus told reporters he “loves” the mid-Missouri town of Fulton. He notes he had been there once before, when he was in uniform.
“I’m a wonderful student of (Winston) Churchill. I think this museum is a tremendous and fitting tribute to the individual William Manchester described as the last lion,” Petraeus says.
Petraeus describes the National Churchill Museum as a “wonderful monument to one of history’s truly great leaders.”
Presidential historian and Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham also delivered a lecture and addressed the news media on Saturday in Fulton.
Former U.S. Sen. and two-term Governor Christopher “Kit” Bond (R) says Meacham delivered an excellent lecture Saturday at Westminster. Senator Bond attended the lecture.
“He (Meacham) compared the times of Churchill with (President Franklin) Roosevelt (D) and gave us a lot of great insight,” says Bond. “Talked about Churchill’s emphasis on courage, reliability and responsibility.”
Missourinet asked Meacham about Lady Thatcher’s 1996 warning about Russia. Meacham tells news director Brian Hauswirth that former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney was correct when he warned about Russia in 2012.
Meacham is a regular guest on Morning Joe and Charlie Rose.
Winston Churchill delivered his famous “Iron Curtain” speech on the Westminster campus in 1946. Two of the attendees, Baxter Watson and Earl Harbison Jr., also addressed reporters Saturday.
President Harry Truman (D) joined Churchill at the 1946 event, which Watson says drew 30,000 people to Fulton.
Former President Ronald Reagan (R) spoke at Westminster College in 1990, a year after the Berlin Wall fell. Reagan dedicated the Breakthrough sculpture.
Mikhail Gorbachev traveled to Westminster in May 1992 to essentially announce the end of the Cold War. The museum notes Gorbachev also symbolically walked through the opening in the Breakthrough Berlin Wall sculpture.
Westminster College President Dr. Benjamin Ola. Akande also attended Saturday’s activities.
This was also the first-ever meeting at the museum in Fulton by the board of the Washington-based International Churchill Society.