Kravis Center for the Performing Arts

West Palm Beach has a huge performing arts center called the Kravis Center, and it's located just adjacent to CityPlace on the west side. To find out about all the great events happening there, click on the below link to the Kravis Center's website.

Website of the Kravis Center for the Performing Arts

In addition to the stage performances in the theater setting, the Kravis Center has a large room that is often used for other events, and last week was one such occasion. The Forum Group of the Palm Beaches (a non-partisan political organization) held a luncheon with keynote speaker General David Petraeus, leader of U.S. Central Command. It is amazing how many famous people come through this small radius of city blocks known as downtown West Palm Beach.

General Petraeus gave an overview of the current military efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, which pretty much mirrored what we hear on the news, but more interesting was his response to various questions from the audience. One person asked if there would be a military draft. His answer was that he certainly hoped not; that the kind of operations currently taking place in Afghanistan required professional soldiers with "graduate-level" training, expertise, and interest. Unlike traditional warfare, there is a significant social and cultural aspect to these operations, where part of the task is to get to know the local cultures and to "separate the reconciliables from the irreconciliables" and make the reconciliables your friends.

When asked if he thought Osama Bin Laden was alive and where he was, he answered "Yes" and that he was likely in the difficult mountainous regions of Pakistan near the Afghan border. He was careful to say that the U.S. operations in Pakistan would constitute "training" of Pakistani soliders to do what the U.S. had been doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it seemed like a more active role is contemplated in Pakistan.

The most humorous moment occurred when someone asked how he would compare serving under President Bush to serving under President Obama. After the initial murmur spread throughout the crowd, he said that he had made a career out of avoiding minefields, not stepping into them (which was followed by substantial laughter from the crowd). But then he did go on to actually answer the question, praising the Obama administration's methods of devising its new policy only after carefully consulting various experts with different opinions, and saying that he was honored to serve under all of the Presidents that he has worked for.

It was remarkably convenient to walk a few blocks down Clematis Street from work, put on a business suit, and walk another few blocks down Rosemary to CityPlace and the Kravis Center to see General Petraeus' speech. When the event was finished, I stopped by home on the way back to work, in order to change back from my business suit into more business casual attire for my normal workday. In downtown West Palm Beach, it's nice to be able to work, live, and see famous people speak, without even getting in your car.