ULS hosts former US ambassador

Former ambassador to Mauritania and Iran expert, John Limbert, discussed the 30-year-old conflict between the U.S. and Iran at a University Lecture Series (ULS) event Tuesday.

Eighty students engaged in a question and answer session with Limbert at the event, which was co-sponsored by the USF Joint Military Leadership Center and ULS.

“The reality is that the U.S. and Iran have been at each other for the last 30 years, and any attempt to change things has been unsuccessful,” Limbert said.

Limbert said past conflicts are “ghosts of history” that need to be recognized by both U.S. and Iranian governments if there is any hope for a peaceful future.

During the 1978 Iran hostage crisis, Limbert was taken hostage at the American Embassy in Iran. After the embassy was overrun by Iranian students, Limbert said he spent nine months in solitary confinement.

Attendees were shown a video documenting the events that led to the hostage crisis.

Spencer Goldstein, a sophomore majoring in international studies, said he attended the event to enhance his own understanding of the U.S.’s relationship with Iran.

“It’s important for students to learn from the past to prepare for the future,” Goldstein said.

Marcus Watlington, a junior majoring in international studies, said he attended the event because it was beneficial to his major.

“A lot of us … don’t understand how far back this conflict goes or where it comes from,” he said. “We have what we see on TV and what the institutions feed us.”

Ashley Peterson, a junior double majoring in anthropology and international studies, said she is interested in foreign affairs and the Peace Corps, and that the lecture only furthered her motivation.

Peterson said Limbert’s lecture was important because of the current war on terror in the Middle East.

Copies of Limbert’s book “Iran: At War with History,” were available for sale at the event, and he signed a few copies for attendees.

“The history matters and the people need to know about it,” Limbert said. “When the U.S. and Iran sit together, there are going to be ghosts in the room, and people need to know about those ghosts.”