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Special report: Global threats multiply

Illustration of multiple global threats including Vladimir Putin, missiles, cyber terrorism, gun violence, and polluting smoke stacks
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Officials who have held America’s top national security positions tell "Axios on HBO" that the nation has never before faced such a tangled web of threats.

The bottom line: They worry about the government's capacity to confront them.

  • David Petraeus, former CIA director and retired four-star general, and H.R. McMaster, former national security adviser, both name the rivalries with Russia and China as the greatest threats of our time.
  • Janet Napolitano, former Homeland Security secretary, lists climate change, cyberattacks and gun violence.
  • Leon Panetta, former CIA director and Defense secretary, is most concerned about cyber threats.
  • Lisa Monaco, former White House homeland security adviser, says her biggest fear is a deadly pandemic.

The big picture: The last time the global threat picture was this crowded and combustible was in the lead-up to World War I, Panetta says.

  • Between the lines: Some of the threats are familiar: Russia, nukes, terrorism. But many are exacerbated by new technologies — from AI-powered weapons to viral hatred on social media — and by climate change.

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