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At the Perry World House, United States government leaders talked about the importance of the 2016 election for national security

Credit: Charlotte Laracy | News Editor

In one of the first events at the Perry World House, top national security officials described the importance of the 2016 election and voiced their opinions of how disastrous it would be for national security to have Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump as president.

The U.S. government leaders included former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former National Security Advisor Tom Donilon, Mass. Rep. Seth Moulton, former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman.

Moderator of the panel, Vikram Singh, said he viewed the panel, which took place in the brightly sunlit Perry World House, as a “well-lit situation room.”

Penn President Amy Gutmann spoke before the national security panel about the opening of the Perry World House and having students from around the world come to the University. In Penn’s Class of 2020, one in seven students will be from a foreign country.

Richard Perry, a University trustee who gave a $10 million gift for the creation of the building, sat in the front row at the panel.

Gutmann quoted American politician and diplomat Adlai Stevenson while also indirectly referencing the 2016 election. “In America, anyone can become president,” she said. “That’s one of the risks you take.”

During the panel, the majority of the government officials gave numerous examples of why they are concerned about Trump’s rhetoric and what it could do to harm America’s security.

Moulton said that when he was in Iraq last week, many of the American soldiers were concerned about Trump’s language and how it could pose a threat to them. Donilon was troubled by the fact that earlier in the day, the Republican presidential nominee invited Russian hackers to hack into Hillary Clinton’s campaign, tweeting, “If Russia or any other country or person has Hillary Clinton’s 33,000 illegally deleted emails, perhaps they should share them with the FBI!”

Sherman explained the process of passing the Iran Nuclear Deal and how it took political courage for President Obama, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and current Secretary of State John Kerry to get the deal passed.

“There is no doubt in my mind that we stopped Iran from making a nuclear bomb,” Sherman said.

All of the panelists agreed on the significance of having foreign alliances in order to maintain national security. During the Q&A session, a former defense minister of Georgia asked Albright about expanding the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Albright responded by saying that she a proponent of expanding the “alliance of democracies.”

“I believe in NATO enlargement but there needs to be safety procedures in order to make a stronger alliance of militaries and common values,” Albright said.

Donilon also mentioned the importance of a president establishing relationships with world leaders and using his or her political powers to influence foreign affairs. He said, “Global security needs United States engagement.”

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