Find a back issue

Former NSA, CIA Director Says Mexico Embodies Evolving Security Threat

General Michael Hayden (Official Portrait Courtesy of CIA.)
Gen. Michael Hayden (Official Portrait Courtesy of CIA.)

A former director of both the National Security Agency and the Central Intelligence Agency says North Texas is just a few hundred miles away from a country that embodies one of the most significant security problems of our time: Mexico.

During a keynote speech Tuesday as part of the University of North Texas’ Kuehne Speaker Series on National Security, retired Air Force Gen. Michael Hayden said Mexico is concerning partly because America’s 67-year-old national security infrastructure hasn’t kept pace with today’s threats.

Where major powers like the Soviet Union once were at the forefront of U.S. security worries, Hayden said, the compounding effects of technology and the new domain of cyberspace mean security issues have evolved, with the most substantial threats now being defined by the absence of state power.

“What I would call the second great age of globalization, brought about by connectivity and international supply chains, has eroded the power of the state, and pushed the power down to sub-state actors and even to individuals,” Hayden said. Because of that, he added, the geopolitics of Mexico are troubling not because it’s a strong country that is threatening the power of the U.S., but because it’s weak and struggling to control its own territory against drug cartels, for example.

“You can say the same thing about terrorism,” Hayden said. “Where is Al Qaeda strong? Wherever there isn’t a government: the tribal region of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, the Sinai Peninsula, Libya, northern Nigeria, Malawi.”

Hayden was introduced at the luncheon event by Ross Perot Sr., founder of EDS and Perot Systems. The Kuehne Speaker Series was established thanks to a gift by UNT alumnus Ernie Kuehne, an attorney and president and board chairman of Kuehne Oil Co. Ryan was the presenting sponsor for Tuesday’s event; other sponsors included BNSF, Hillwood-Alliance, and Texas Capital Bank.