Finding Common Ground on The New Cold War

“Every day on social media, our adversaries are throwing salt in the wounds of our divisions. If we bring people together from all backgrounds on projects for the common good, we can begin to heal.” ~ Ambassador Susan Rice

Common Ground Committee, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering civil public discourse in politics, was thrilled to partner with the Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University to welcome General David H. Petraeus (US Army, Retired) and Ambassador Susan E. Rice to a public forum on global relations. At a time of rising tension between America and China, North Korea, Russia and the Middle East, these two icons of foreign policy were able to find many areas of common ground, including these four key takeaways:

  1. The decision to withdraw from Syria was a grave strategic mistake, but some gains can be salvaged.
  2. President Trump’s call with the Ukraine broke with normal protocol, and was more relevant to domestic politics than national security.
  3. The U.S.–China relationship is the most consequential in the world, and all other foreign policy initiatives should weigh the potential impacts to this relationship.
  4. Domestic political divisions and the disruption of our democracy are among our greatest national security risks.

In this era of polarization, General Petraeus and Ambassador Rice’s productive and respective discussion, moderated by NBC News anchor Craig Melvin, offered a positive model for civil discourse on foreign policy issues.

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General David Petraeus

General David H. Petraeus is one of America’s most prominent military figures of the post-9/11 era. During his 37-year career in the US Army he had six consecutive commands in countries ranging from Cold War Europe to Iraq and Afghanistan, where he oversaw counterinsurgency efforts. After retiring from the military, he served as Director of the CIA and led initiatives to combat the global war on terror. A recipient of numerous military honors and a top graduate of the United States Military Academy and the U.S. Army’s challenging Ranger School, General Petraeus holds a Ph.D. in international relations and economics from Princeton University and has taught at multiple educational institutions.

Ambassador Susan Rice

Ambassador Susan E. Rice is one of the country’s most prominent diplomats. As United States National Security Advisor (2013-2017), she helped shape foreign and national security policy. Prior to that, she served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations (2009-2013), advancing America’s foreign policy objectives while strengthening global security. Ambassador Rice holds a B.A. in History from Stanford University and a Ph.D. in International Relations from Oxford University, where she was a Rhodes Scholar. She is a former Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and currently serves as a Fellow at American University and Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government.

Craig Melvin

Craig Melvin is a news anchor on NBC News’ “TODAY,” a co-host of 3rd Hour TODAY, an anchor on MSNBC Live, and a host of “Dateline.” His breaking news coverage and reporting appears across all NBC News and MSNBC platforms. Melvin has covered a wide-range of news events, including several Republican and Democratic National Conventions and three presidential inaugurations. His coverage of politics has included notable interviews with former President Bill Clinton, Former Vice President Joe Biden, Ambassador Nikki Haley, and Secretaries of State John Kerry, Mike Pompeo and Condoleezza Rice. Mr. Melvin holds a B.A. in government from Wofford College.

About Common Ground Committee

Common Ground Committee (CGC) ( is a nonpartisan, citizen-led organization that inspires action on polarizing issues by bringing prominent leaders with opposing views together in public forums to find common ground. Since its founding in 2009, CGC has held 14 forums featuring panelists who have reached over 200 points of consensus. Panelists have included such notables as David Petraeus, Susan Rice, John Kerry, Condoleezza Rice, Michael Steele, Donna Brazile and Larry Kudlow, exploring issues ranging from race and income inequality to foreign policy. CGC is also responsible for the “Let’s Find Common Ground” podcast and the Common Ground Scorecard, which scores politicians and candidates for public office on their likelihood to find common ground with the opposite party. Free of political agenda and financial influence, CGC has a singular focus on bringing light, not heat, to public discourse.

About the Schar School of Policy and Government

The Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University prepares undergraduate and graduate students to be leaders and managers who solve problems and advance the public good. Learning from professors with real-world experience, students gain the applicable skills and the practical knowledge to lead government agencies and nonprofit organizations, develop public policies and program, create innovative consulting solutions, and/or provide expert policy analysis. Located where policy happens – just 3 miles from the Pentagon, 4 miles from the White House, and 6 miles from the US Capitol Building – students are connected to jobs, internships, networking, and experiences that can only be found in the Washington, DC, area. Schar School alumni apply what they learned in the classroom to pursue fulfilling and meaningful careers. Graduates are doing consequential work at leading employers including the US Department of State, USAID, the World Bank, the United Nations, the National Endowment for Democracy, Deloitte, Booz Allen Hamilton, and many others.For more information, go to

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