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UVM Panel Looks At Crisis In Syria

AP/ Toby Talbot

Ever since the possibility of a U.S. strike on Syria in response to that country’s apparent use of chemical weapons, the conflict has leaped into the spotlight of the news cycle.

But Syria was relegated to more of an afterthought until talk of a U.S. attack, even though the conflict has been raging for over two years now and has claimed an estimated 100,000 lives.

"There's a kind of tiredness based on our experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan," says Ergene.

The topic will definitely be front and center at the University of Vermont this week, even though a U.S. strike has been averted for now, on a deal brokered by Russia to have Syria turn over its stockpile of chemical weapons to international control.

A panel discussion headed by Associate Professor of Middle East History Bogac Ergene will take place tomorrow afternoon at 4:30pm on the UVM campus. The conversation will include professors of history, political science and philosophy.

Ergene says there is a lack of knowledge about Syria. The panel seeks to bridge the gaps in information for UVM students and community members who want to know more.

“This has been a topic that’s been ignored recently especially in the United States,” says Ergene.

Ergene says that on the UVM campus, students hold an unfavorable view of U.S. intervention in Syria. He attributes that attitude to fatigue from the several conflicts in the Middle East over the past decade.

“There’s a kind of tiredness based on our experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. So according to my very personal impressions, people are not taking a principled position based on that,” says Ergene.

Ergene points out that the idea of a short, controlled strike is at odds with historical data, which suggests that the outcome of a strike could be unpredictable.

“We know this very well, especially in Iraq. There are still people dying in Iraq. Any kind of estimation of what’s going to happen after intervention in Syria, in historical terms, has proven to be unreliable.”

Ergene also notes a lack of understanding the perspective of the Syrian people.

“We ignore people who live in the region, and that is a road to catastrophe,” says Ergene.

A graduate of NYU with a Master's Degree in journalism, Mitch has more than 20 years experience in radio news. He got his start as news director at NYU's college station, and moved on to a news director (and part-time DJ position) for commercial radio station WMVY on Martha's Vineyard. But public radio was where Mitch wanted to be and he eventually moved on to Boston where he worked for six years in a number of different capacities at member station a Senior Producer, Editor, and fill-in co-host of the nationally distributed Here and Now. Mitch has been a guest host of the national NPR sports program "Only A Game". He's also worked as an editor and producer for international news coverage with Monitor Radio in Boston.
Annie Russell was VPR's Deputy News Director. She came to VPR from NPR's Weekends on All Things Considered and WNYC's On The Media. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School.
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