General David Petraeus has spent more time in a command role in the Middle East as a Two-Star Division Commander of the 101st Airborne; as a Three-Star Commander of the Multinational Security Transition Command – Iraq; and as a Four-Star General Commanding Multinational Force I (MNF I) better known as “The Surge.”

During this week’s Pickens Podcast discussion with General Petraeus, he told me, “We have a vital national interest in maintaining our relationships with the Middle East countries and to ensure the free flow of energy to nations around the world.”

He said that the Middle East is a “kaleidoscope of competing interests, not just between Shias and Sunnis, but between Iranians and Saudis, Persians and Arabs, Kurds and Arabs, competing tribal leaders and a number of smaller elements.”

General Petraeus said there are five lessons we have learned:

1. Islamic extremists will exploit ungoverned spaces.
2. The effects of exploiting ungoverned spaces will not be confined to those countries.
3. We have to lead. There is no alternative.
4. We need a comprehensive approach with the host country and other allies.
5. This is a generational struggle.

Please sit back and enjoy this riveting conversation with General David Petraeus.

Download the podcast on AudioBoom or iTunes and let me know what you think via Twitter @BoonePickens.