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Former CIA and NSA Director says Middle East turmoil could last 'a generation or so

Former CIA and NSA director Michael Hayden told For the Record that the current turmoil in the Middle East could last for decades and have serious consequences for America.

"I don’t mean to be overly discouraging, but this might be a generation or so before that area really settles down again, because we’ve got fundamental tectonic plates moving in the region. I think Iraq as we’ve known it is gone. Syria as we’ve known it is gone, and probably Lebanon as well," Hayden said.

"What’s going to happen is that turmoil is going to boil over and it’s going to show up in Paris, or it’s going to show up in Brussels. Or it’s going to show up in Denmark and frankly, sooner or later, it’s going to show up in North America."

Former NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden spoke with For the Record for the March 18 episode, "Without Warning: America's Cyber War." (Photo: TheBlaze TV)

Senior correspondent Sara Carter sat down with Hayden for an upcoming episode of For the Record to discuss some of the biggest threats to the U.S., including the Islamic State and cyberattacks.

Hayden, who served as director of the CIA from 2006 to 2009, said one issue is that the U.S. has failed to identify the root cause of much of the fighting and political upheavals rocking the Middle East.

"Even in the Bush administration, I was actually rereading some of my speeches from, from my time at CIA, and it just jumps off the page at me where I say, 'Now, keep in mind we are not at war with Islam.' And so we went out of our way to make sure that was very clear. And it’s true. And we still weren’t.

"But I think it’s overachieving when we pretend that this isn’t radical Islam, and this isn’t emanating from one of the world’s great monotheisms. Look, you talked about ISIS and what’s going on in Iraq and Syria and spilling over to Lebanon and so on, there are three contests underway there. Three wars in their own right, alright?

"One, is within Sunni Islam, between ISIS and the Jordanians, ISIS and the Egyptians, ISIS and the Saudis. And then you’ve got a second conflict between Sunni Islam and Shia Islam. And then there’s a third conflict. And that’s a conflict of elements of Islam having to deal with modernity as it’s expressed by countries like ours in the West.

"Now what’s common across all three of those conflicts?  Islam. And so if we pretend this isn’t about Islam, I think we lose sight of, what’s the right word here, core causes? And when we then focus on that terrorist or this terrorist, look, we’ve got to handle the terrorists who are already convinced they want to come kill us. But we’ve also got to begin to think about the production rate of terrorists in one, three, or five years, who are going to want to come kill us.

"And we can’t deal with that problem unless we have a genuine understanding of what’s causing it.  And we can’t afford to confuse ourselves by refusing to label things as they are."

You can see the interview with Hayden in the upcoming episode of For the Record, "Without Warning: America’s Cyber War," Wednesday, March 18 at 8:00 p.m. ET on TheBlaze TV.

Listen to the full interview below or on For the Record's channel on Soundcloud.

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