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Local foreign affairs experts weigh in on current U.S. and Iran conflict

Columbia foreign affairs experts in Columbia weighed in on President Donald Trump's speech on Wednesday, as well as the current ongoing conflict between the US and Iran.

"De-escalating, I think, is probably the best way to go, and I'm glad that Trump announced that this morning in his speech," said Becky Price, the Post Commander at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 280.

Price spent 22 years in the US Army and served during the Gulf War in Germany and in Korea.

"In the past, if a foreign country would attack us, the first thing we would do is react instead of talk and negotiate," Price said. "Now it's to the point he wants to deescalate."

Although President Trump said Iran seems to be standing down, he also said the US will impose additional sanctions on Iran and continue to evaluate options in response to Iran's aggression.

Dr. Brian Kessel, a political science associate professor at Columbia College, said the conflict is far from over.

"This is certainly not the end of tensions between the US and Iran um Iran wants to be a strong regional power, they would like to see the US out of the middle east, and the US is committed to trying to contain Iranian influence and prevent the development of a nuclear program, so we'll continue on that path as well," Kessel said.

Roughly 1,500 US troops and coalition forces are housed at the Ain Asad airbase in Iraq, which was one of the targets of the Iranian missile strike on Tuesday.

"I don't think the Iranians want war with America, I don't think the US really wants to engage in a military conflict with Iran either and so hopefully we can take a pause here and cool these tensions down a little bit," Kessel said.

According to the Pentagon, the US has about 68,000 troops in the Middle East. In addition, just over 4,200 were deployed in the last week.

"We're on the defensive, we have the manpower and the capabilities to do whatever we want, but it doesn't always have to go to war," Price said. "We can try to negotiate and talk, and that's what (Trump's) trying to work and do, and I'm grateful for that versus our soldiers being in harm's way."

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Zach Boetto

Zach Boetto started working with ABC 17 News in June after graduating from California State University-Channel Islands with a degree in organizational communication. He reports weekday evenings and weekend mornings.

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