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Students at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies and community members at the University of Denver were invited to gain greater insight into an important but little understood international issue during a panel discussion at the Sie Cheou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy.

The discussion, titled “The ISIS Crisis-What should the U.S. do about the 'Islamic State'?” was moderated by Danny Postel, associate director of the School's Center for Middle East Studies and included the following panelists:

  • Christopher Hill, Dean of the Josef Korbel School, former U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, author of Outpost: Life on the Frontlines of American Diplomacy
  • Deborah Avant, Director of the Sie Cheou-Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy, Josef Korbel School, author of The Market for Force
  • Nader Hashemi, Director of the Center for Middle East Studies, Associate Professor of Middle East and Islamic Politics, Josef Korbel School, co-editor of The Syria Dilemma

Hashemi opened the panel by discussing some of the causes that brought about this most recent crisis in the region.

“The single biggest driver of the kind of criminal Islamist extremism that we are seeing today is predicated on this ongoing and systematic humiliation of hundreds of millions of Arab men and women who generation after generation find that in their own societies they are unable to achieve full humanity or reach their full potential or exercise their full powers of thought and creativity and basic citizenship rights,” Hashemi said.

Avant spoke of ISIS allies and recruitment tactics and who the organization aims to recruit. “For the Western audiences the [recruitment] videos promise self fulfillment. They talk about Jihad as a cure for the depression that comes along with just focusing on your big car and not having meaning or purpose in your life.”

Those in attendance were able to make the most out of the opportunity to further their understanding of the region during a question and answer session. Panelists were asked to comment on a number of topics, including US relations with Russia, Israel and Iran.

“This is probably the most difficult crisis in the Middle East, certainly since the U.S. invasion of Iraq back over ten years ago. And I think it is quite appropriate that we have a discussion about it here.” said Hill.

A video transcript of the event will be posted on the DU Center for Middle East Studies YouTube page at