Ben Hodges, former commander of the United States Army Europe and current Pershing chair in strategic studies at the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) and partner at Berlin Global Advisors, gave a provocative speech on geopolitical risks and challenges for business leaders at Clairfield International’s “Unternehmergespräche” event at the Frankfurter Gesellschaft on October 31st. This Leadership in Business Series brings together thought leaders and Clairfield clients, C-level executives, investors, and captains of industry.
Ben Hodges recently retired from the military with the rank of lieutenant general and is now a prominent thinker and speaker on global policy. Lieutenant General Hodges commanded infantry units in the 101st Airborne Division in Iraq and also served as director of operations in Kandahar, Afghanistan during a long and distinguished military career for the United States Army and NATO. His last military assignment was as commander, United States Army Europe from 2014 to 2017.
In his introductory remarks and the lively discussions that followed, Lieutenant General Hodges shared knowledge on the political climate from an insider’s perspective. He offered a reminder to European allies that they would have to do more to ensure their own defense in the face of a resurgent Russia because the US needs to focus more attention on defending its interests in the Pacific Ocean to fend off a more assertive China. “It’s in the American interest – and the American leadership knows that – to have a very strong European pillar. Even if not one European country is spending a euro on its own defense, stability and security in Europe is in the interest of the United States,” Hodges said. “The United States does not have the capacity to do everything it has to do in Europe and in the Pacific to deal with the Chinese threat.”
After Lieutenant General Hodges’ presentation, discussions continued on the rise of Asia and turbulence in American politics, with a rapt audience.
“Lieutenant General Hodges’ speech was a welcome reminder of the interlinked world between business and policy, security and competition. Geopolitical stability has real repercussions in economic policy,” said Dr Albert Schander, partner at Clairfield International and himself the German army reserve commander of Para Regiment 31 and LTC/colonel. “We were honored that Lieutenant General Hodges, a proven expert on foreign and security policy, a military professional, and a respected bridge builder, accepted the invitation to speak to us about the geopolitical impact on the economy and provide insight on allied readiness, deterrence and transatlantic security.”