General Jack Keane on civic engagement at McKeon Leadership Forum

General John M. Keane, U.S. Army Retired speaks at the McKeon Leadership Forum held at The Performing Arts Center at College of the Canyons in Valencia on Thursday, November 29, 2018. Dan Watson/The Signal

About 100 members of the community gathered Thursday evening at College of the Canyons for a speaker series with Gen. Jack Keane and former Rep. Howard McKeon aimed at promoting civic engagement.

The McKeon Leadership Forum, a partnership between COC and McKeon, focused on the nation’s global security challenges and what Santa Clarita residents can do to foster a healthy democracy.

McKeon, a former U.S. congressman and Santa Clarita’s first mayor, welcomed on stage Keane, a four-star general and president of GSI Consulting, which offers business, functional and technical consulting services for enterprise applications.

“I never try to turn down a college speaking engagement because I know how vital it can be,” Keane started.

In addressing the topic of the evening, the general said there are multiple challenges the nation has and is currently facing, but “the good news here is that the country votes.”

Those challenges, he said, include some of the agendas other parts of the world have voiced, including in Russia, China, North Korea and Middle Eastern nations.

For example, Keane said America and North Korea’s relationship is at a stalemate, which is both positive and negative.

“Yes, there’s no nuclear testing, no missile testing, the return of hostages, reconnecting (some) families from the north and south…” he said. “But they have never given us an inventory of all of their weapons and missiles and nuclear research sites… If we can’t get that, that’s why we’re at a stalemate.”

While the United States faces challenges alike, “there’s more we can do,” he added. When discussing radical Islam-related violence, he said ISIS has been a multigenerational challenge to defeat because “it’s an ideology.”

But the way to defeat violence, he said, is not with guns but with better ideas.

“It takes community leaders like you have here, church leaders like you have here and educators like you have here all participating to turn their young people in the right direction and it takes commitment to do that,” said Keane.

“Yes, there are challenges in this country, but we have been here before and we have gotten it right before,” he said. “We will persevere and we will get it right again. Why? Because we’re Americans.”

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