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Former U.S. Diplomat Visits Las Cruces, Speaks on Middle East

Former U.S. diplomat Joe Wilson visited NMSU’s campus Friday to speak about his work in the Middle East.

Wilson said Las Cruces has a unique perspective when it comes to international relations.

“I think you probably have some understanding of that because it is not that far away that you’ve got a drug war going on. You’ve got people here living in tents that are refugees from that particular war,” said Wilson.

Joe Wilson is part of the diplomatic family…the same family Chris Stevens was part of. Stevens was killed in an attack on the Libyan embassy in September.

“Anytime a colleague of ours in my particular business is killed, it’s a shame and the family, the broader diplomatic family mourns that.”

Wilson met Stevens in a turbulent time for the Middle East…back during the first Gulf War.

“…and quite different than being scared of what we were going through when he was coming into our profession , he was inspired by that.”

The Libya incident, of course, served as kindling in a heated exchange during the town hall debate.

But Wilson says diplomacy serves a different role than politics and military force.

“The diplomat actually gets out there and interacts. The military either conquers or it defends. I’m all for interaction to diffuse problems before you bring the military in.”

Many may wonder what’s ahead for the United States’ relations with the Middle East. With so much turmoil in that region, Wilson says it’s hard to know who to trust.

“We don’t have any idea. We don’t really know the people who came to power in Libya. We certainly don’t know the people who were rebelling in Syria even though we’re coordinating and others are shipping arms to them. Yeah, we have no idea how this is going to play out and that’s why it’s so dangerous. This is a whole new world that we’re part of and the problem is they all hate us.”

But some problems are universal…and it makes those strangers across the world a little more familiar.

“When people are simply forced to call upon their own resources, their family and friends because their municipality and their state can’t take care of them, that’s what you’re seeing in a good part of the Middle East.”

Sloan Patton joined KRWG in August 2012 as assistant news director.