At the end of a two-day, four-city tour of Iowa, author and Arab American Institute President James Zogby shared his message in Marion Wednesday night: that the country is on a "collision course."
He spoke and took questions from a crowd of roughly 45 people at the Kirkwood Training and Outreach Services Center, 3375 Armar Drive, for nearly two hours, focusing on the international showdown over Iran's nuclear program and U.S. policy toward the Middle East.
Zogby is the author of Arab Voices and founder of the Arab American Institute, an organization that "serves as the political and policy research arm" for the Arab American community, according to its Web site.
Zogby spoke Wednesday about why he believes using any military action or entering a war with Iran is not the answer.
"A conversation is what we need to have, not war," he said.
As he spoke, Veterans for Peace members passed out cards urging attendees to contact Iowa's representatives and senators and encourage them toward "Diplomacy - NOT WAR! - with Iran." This type of action is what Zogby said is needed.
"(It's) what we can do as concerned citizens to ... move in a different direction," he said.
Zogby also emphasized that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq are not over and have damaged the United States' reputation.
"Two failed wars later ... and (the GOP) is trying to get us into another one," he said.
But candidates including Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich have been speaking out against Iran's enrichment program, calling the country a real threat, as well as criticizing President Barack Obama's recent dealings with Iran.
Though Zogby said he agrees Iran is "not the good guy in this story" and has been "meddlesome and menacing," the candidates' rhetoric is too extreme, he said.
Alice Rogers, a 64-year-old Cedar Rapids resident, said she attended the talk Wednesday in order to get more informed about U.S. dealings with Iran and the Middle East.
Rogers said she found Zogby's explanations of how the United States can use diplomacy and negotiations particularly useful.
"Nearly everyone here is intent on keeping our military actions to a minimum," she said.
Although Rogers said she thinks it's "amazing" that Zogby came to Iowa, Zogby said the first-in-the-nation caucus state is a natural choice."I've been coming here for 25 years," he said after the talk. "People here care about politics ... people care about ideas here."