Sept. 11 panel discussion at TTU focuses on U.S. relations with Iran

Tennessee Tech University’s College of Arts and Sciences and the Tennessee World Affairs Council will observe the Sept. 11 anniversary of terrorist attacks on the country by presenting a U.S. foreign policy panel discussion.

Set for 7 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 11, in the Roaden University Center’s Multipurpose Room, the symposium, titled “United States and Iran: Diplomatic Breakthrough or Winds of War?” will feature a panel of experts made up of two professors, a nuclear scientist and a former military leader.

“We thought the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks would be an appropriate time to revisit the broad issue of terrorism in the Middle East, but specifically the situation in Iran,” said Michael Gunter, a TTU political science professor who will be among the panelists.

In addition to Gunter, panelists will include Jeff Roberts, TTU history chairperson who teaches a course about terrorism; Lt. Cmdr. Patrick Ryan, (Ret.) U.S. Navy and president of the Tennessee World Affairs Council; and David Moses, a former senior program manager for nuclear proliferation programs at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Former Cookeville mayor Charles Womack will moderate the symposium, which is free and open to the community.

Gunter is a leading expert on the Kurdish population of the Middle East, having authored six critically praised books and numerous scholarly articles about the subject. His works have appeared in such leading periodicals as Middle East Journal, Middle East Quarterly, Middle East Policy, Current History, Critique: Critical Middle Eastern Studies, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, Orient and others.

In summers, he teaches at the International University in Vienna, Austria, and he is a former senior Fulbright lecturer on international relations in Turkey. Gunter has also held Fulbright awards to China and Israel.

Roberts, for the first time last year, taught a course that aims to clarify the concept of terrorism by defining it, examining its beginnings and exploring historical and modern instances of it. “Terrorism is a topic that would benefit every citizen to consider because it’s something that’s going to be relevant to use for some time,” he said.

Other courses he teaches include the modern Middle East and a history of Russia and the Soviet Union. His research interests include 20th century Afghanistan and the decision to drop the atomic bomb.

Ryan organized a group of concerned citizens in 2007 to launch Tennessee’s first World Affairs Council to bring global awareness education programs and resources to communities and schools in the state. He is president and chairman of the council, which is based in Cookeville.

He is also founder and president of Ryan and Associates, an editorial consulting firm in Cookeville that specializes in online global affairs information resources, especially covering developments in the Middle East and Asia. In a 26-year Navy career, Ryan worked on analysis of Iranian threats to U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf during the 1980s tanker war, where he served in the Office of Naval Intelligence and as a Middle East terrorism and weapons of mass destruction specialist at the U.S. Central Command.

Moses is a retired senior program manager at ORNL who now serves as an independent consultant. In that role, he has supported the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in meetings with Russian reactor design organizations to foster proliferation prevention.

During his time at ORNL, he served as a lecturer on nuclear reactor technology and proliferation in the Oak Ridge Nuclear Fuel Cycle Operations Workshop for training federal agencies staff the fundamentals of nuclear proliferation potential using reactors.

Light refreshments will be served at the event, which is co-sponsored by TTU’s College of Arts and Sciences, Student Activities and the Tennessee World Affairs Council.

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