News Tip − Expert Comments on Syrian Crisis


Dr. Timothy Walton, associate professor of integrated science and technologyIt is important to know the players in a crisis like the one that is going on in Syria and realize that there are multiple possible outcomes and a range of consequences for any action that we take, according to JMU associate professor of integrated science and technology Dr. Timothy R. Walton.

Dr. Timothy R. Walton
Associate professor of integrated science and technology, James Madison University

Dr. Walton is an expert in intelligence analysis and intelligence history. He was a communicator in the Navy for six years, serving on ships in the North Atlantic and Mediterranean and has visited over 15 countries. He then went on to become an analyst at the Central Intelligence Agency for 24 years. Walton has received numerous awards including the James R. Killian Award and a Fulbright Grant. His assignments included being posted to the Office of the Secretary of Defense at the Pentagon as an intelligence advisor to the Secretary of Defense during the implementation of the Dayton Peace Accords in the Balkans. He is the author of several books including "Challenges in Intelligence Analysis: Lessons from 1300 BCE to the Present" and "The Spanish Treasure Fleets".


"We, not always consciously, think that the world operates the way we do. One of the benefits of traveling is that you begin to understand how rich, and secure, and well educated you are. And you just have to go to a foreign country to see this."

"Thinking about multiple possible outcomes is an important intelligence function. As we focus too much on our policy goals, we sometimes lose track of some of the very bad things that could also happen. And that's an intelligence function too, to say that there is a range of things that could happen here, and what you do or don't do is going to have some consequences."

"There is a whole range of things that could happen [within Syria]. One that we are at now is that Assad would stay in power indefinitely and just keep killing his people. Another is that the country just formally breaks up… which is the preferred solution for the Kurds up in the north."

"One consequence of going down the path of continuing the fighting is that there will be more and more external involvement. And we've already seen a little bit of that with Hezbollah from Iran and from Lebanon and from the Iranians. A reasonable thing to imagine is that the longer this goes on, the more chance we will have of this not just being a Lebanese war, but potentially a war between the United States and Iran over Syria. And that's not a good outcome."

Published: Thursday, October 10, 2013

Last Updated: Thursday, October 20, 2016

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