Three former U.S. secretaries of state, with diplomatic experience reaching across three decades, appeared before a Congressional committee Thursday to offer their views on current challenges to world and U.S. security.
Henry Kissinger, who served under U.S. President Richard Nixon in the 1970s, George Schultz, serving under Ronald Reagan in the 1980s and Madeleine Albright, appointed by Bill Clinton in the 1990s, testified before the Senate Armed Services committee on issues ranging from Islamic militants to the crisis in Ukraine.
On the Ukraine issue, Albright told committee members the conflict between Russia and Ukraine has unsettled Europe in ways not seen since World War II.
"Russia's ongoing aggression against Ukraine has fundamentally changed security calculation on the continent and marked the first time since World War II that European borders have been altered by force," she said. "Events of recent days have shown that what many had assumed would become a frozen conflict is still, in fact, red hot."
On the subject of threats posed by Islamic militants, Kissinger suggested struggles for power in the Middle East between states and ethnic and religious groups is what gave rise to the Islamic State or ISIS, a group he says is designed to challenge all established states.
"So the continuation of a territory under terrorist control that avows its aim is the overthrow of all existing institutions is a threat to security, and the conflict with ISIS must be viewed within that context," he said.
Schultz also discussed a wide array of international topics and conflicts but touched on issues in North America as well - "our neighborhood," as he called it. He suggested the roots of U.S. immigration issues do not necessarily lie at the U.S. borders.
"When we had that crisis not long ago with all these kids showing up at our border, none of them were Mexicans," he said. "It only underlines the point that the border that we need to be worrying about - and how can we help them - and why is it that conditions are so bad that in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala that parents send their kids up north to see if they can't something better. We got to pay attention down there. That's all part of this problem of illegal immigration."
At one point the hearing was interrupted by a demonstrator protesting against Kissinger's roles in the Vietnam war and conflicts in South America. Schultz rose to defend him, and the protestor was escorted out to the applause of spectators.