As tensions in the Middle East grow ever more complex, professors are putting in the effort to foster understanding among students.
A panel of four professors, organized by The Alexander Hamilton Society and WUD Society & Politics, explained to students at Union South Tuesday the goals of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and the Levant, also known as ISIS and ISIL.
UW-Madison professor Andrew Kydd described the broad history of the war in Iraq, from the initial disbanding of Saddam Hussein's Ba'ath party through al-Qaeda in Iraq's proliferation of religious divisions.
Kydd also presented possible courses of action, either fighting ISIL more actively or not intervening at all.
"[ISIL is] much stronger than al-Qaeda ever was," Kydd said. "They control territory where they get oil revenues, and they attract recruits worldwide."
Uli Schamiloglu, a professor of languages and cultures of Asia, then explained the roots of fundamentalist thinking, emphasizing that they did not at all fall in line with Islamic belief and thought.
"Though many people will say that it's all about religion, ISIL's motives may move beyond that ... [ISIL members] also want monetary gains and have criminal intent," Schamiloglu said.
Professor John Hall, a military historian, discussed the U.S.'s military option. Hall said he believes President Barack Obama's approach, which includes a combination of diplomatic pressure on Iraq, an air strikes campaign and training of Iraqi ground forces, is "the only viable and feasible option given the situation in the region right now."
Finally, Ohio State professor Peter Mansoor, a former executive officer to Gen. David Petraeus, reflected on his career experiences since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Mansoor described the differences between Obama and former President George W. Bush's approaches to issues in the Middle East and highlighted factors inhibiting ISIL.
Jennifer Wucinski is a student majoring in international studies who attended the event.
"So many students don't know anything about the history of the Iraq war, and to have expert panelists explain the situation really is really helpful," Wucinski said. "The fact that UW can host such great panelists is what really makes Wisconsin great."