J. Robinson West, chairman of the board of USIP, spoke at USIP Jan. 28, 2012 at the fifth annual Dean Acheson Lecture honoring Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.

I am Robin West, Chairman of the Board of Directors of The United States Institute of Peace. On behalf of the Vice Chairman, Ambassador George Moose, and the members of the Board, good evening and welcome to the Acheson lecture, the 5th lecture in as many years.

We are delighted to welcome you to the George Schultz Great Hall of the Headquarters of the United States Institute of Peace. This building symbolizes our belief that peace is the soaring hope of humanity. Located on the National Mall by the monuments to our great Presidents as well as war memorials to those who sacrificed themselves to protect this nation, it is a statement of how we want to see ourselves in the world and the world to see us.

This building was achieved through a public private partnership. Congress was extremely supportive, as was the private sector, including some leading corporations. One of the first and most generous was Lockheed Martin, which has also helped support the Acheson lectures. Private citizens also contributed both personal effort and funds to complete this project. Tonight's speaker was a leader in the effort to honor Madeleine Albright in the Albright Wing. We are deeply grateful for this assistance.

The Acheson Lecture was established by the Board of the Institute of Peace to recognize a great figure in the conduct of America's relations with the world. He was present at the creation of a new national security structure to confront the rising threat of communism, as well as one of the most enlightened, imaginative and effective policies ever created, in the U.S. or elsewhere, The Marshall Plan for the reconstruction of Europe.

In 2012, the old world is over. We confront utterly different challenges than we did in Dean Acheson's day- asymmetrical warfare, failed and failing states, non state actors, bitter religious and ethnic disputes with an expanded international community of significant new players, often rising regional powers.

The Institute of Peace represents an idea of profound importance- that this country must find non violent ways to prevent and manage international conflict and develop the capabilities to stabilize and reconstruct nations after war. Our job is to help find practical solutions for a dangerous world.  This is exactly what we are doing with our partners in the military and diplomatic communities as well as non governmental organizations. On any given day, an average of one-third of USIP's … America's … professional peace builders are deployed around the world in such challenging places as Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Sudan and Syria. Make no mistake, peace is a tough business in brutal places . The contributions of these people to U.S. and international security should be acknowledged . In an era of lowered resources and battle fatigue we are proudly meeting our congressionally mandated mission, while protecting American values and interests as we save money and lives, on the ground. I want to salute with the greatest respect and gratitude, the men and women of the United States Institute of Peace and their partners in military and civilian service who go in harms way for a safer, more peaceful world.

The Acheson Lecture seeks to recognize not only those necessary new solutions but also the men and women actually responsible implementing these solutions while protecting this country. Acheson lecturers have come from both sides of the aisle, and both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue and both sides of the Potomac. What they have in common is that they are weight bearing people. They have no choice but to decide and act- they bear tremendous responsibilities. Tonight's speaker continues that tradition.

Read the News Feature on Secretary Panetta's lecture

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