Following a day of awesome site visits to NATO and the European Parliament, today was the first of the guest lectures for the program. It was presented by Former Colonel in the Italian army Giorgio Cuzzelli. It was a wonderful honor to listen to a man of such distinguished service who worked both in the military commanding directly against security threats and at NATO in charge of generating different approaches to the ever changing security landscape. Based on this experience, he was able to give our group first hand knowledge into the subject matter. Our day with Col. Cuzzelli was separated into two lectures with one centering around the concept of security and the other focused on crisis management. Both lectures were related, but the security lecture was focused more on the theory and idea itself while the crisis management lecture was centered around actual planning and response to issues at hand.

The security lecture presented us with the concept of security and what the word truly means. As Col. Cuzzelli points out, security is extremely complex, multifaceted, and not strictly military in nature. This was the central point of the lecture as the idea of security was broken down into three distinct fields of National, International, and Human security. Each of these have evolved over time to create the complex security environment in today’s world. He presented numerous examples of how security evolved from the “Possession of the Prince” to the emphasis on security of the people through revolutions to transfer sovereignty. Perhaps the most interesting part of this discussion for me was talking about the price of security. Col. Cuzzelli referenced many examples, but centered on the U.S.’ War on Terror. We discussed to what degree civil liberties should be if ever sacrificed in order to guarantee safety. An extension of this was talking about the implications of excessive security (in the case of North Korea) as opposed to too little security (in the case of countries in Africa and South America) and how delicate a balance it is to maintain. As someone who is very intrigued by security in the modern world, this discussion was very rewarding for me.

The second lecture was focused on how to approach crises both before they occur and how to deal with the aftermath. Col. Cuzzelli heavily emphasized the point that if you have to deal in a reactionary fashion to a crisis, then security has been compromised and the process has failed. It was an interesting take, that I had not really considered before. Since the majority of news stories regarding crises are focused on the aftermath and dealing with them instead of crises that have been prevented this is a point that was something I hadn’t really thought of. Outside of this, the biggest takeaway I took from this lecture was Col. Cuzzelli’s heavy emphasis on being able to place yourself in your adversary’s shoes to understand their actions. Without this, he said that any approach you take will be the wrong one. This is something I have always thought of as many of the actions taken in today’s world seem to be focused solely on national interest instead of treating the cause of problem. He advocated this to be done in all cases especially in the cases of dealing with Vladimir Putin the Islamic State. This tied into a further point that in order to truly solve these issues, we need to ensure that stability is held and that there is an actual exit strategy in place in order to prevent the same situations that have continuously occurred from happening again.

Both of these lectures I found to be extremely fascinating and informative. Couple that with a catered lunch and it was a great day! This weekend will still be packed with free visits to the EU institutions followed by a trip to the European Commission on Monday. The trip so far has surpassed my expectations, and I can’t wait to see what happens next!