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Tea party group hears from Army intelligence expert
Hayes - photo by Kelly Whitmire

FORSYTH COUNTY — Central Park changed from a recreation center to a social studies class Monday night

At their monthly meeting, the United Tea Party of Georgia welcomed guest speaker and retired U.S. Army intelligence expert Edward Hayes, who gave an overview of the history and politics of the Middle East.

“We do look at foreign nations with a mindset that is entirely different from the nation we are adversarial toward,” Hayes said. “World War II was different. You had basically Christian, Caucasian nations fighting Christian, Caucasian nations. You kind of new where the beginning middle end was”

“It is huge to not be able to understand a foreign people from their point of view.”

Hayes, who served in both Iraq and Afghanistan during the 2000s, said that one such difference between the United States and those they are fighting is the way each group perceives time.

“You’ve heard the saying that comes out of Afghanistan? America has all the clocks, and the Afghanis have all the time,” Hayes said. “They don’t care if they defeat you 500 years from now with their great-great grandchildren. It’s the same timeline for them.

“For us, we get into a war, we want to be home by Christmas.”

Hayes, who in addition to intelligence has worked in military special forces, also covered the difference between Sunni and Shia Islam, the two largest divisions of the religion. That included nations are aligned with which practice.

After being asked about the issues with ISIS, he told the gathering he didn’t think it was quite as big a threat as portrayed.

“It’s my personal opinion that as horrible as ISIS is — and I’d love to take a few of the guys I used to work with and have some fun with them — ISIS is a side show. They’ve got all of our attention,” he said.  “Because of our sense of justice and our Christian orientation we get insane when we see that type of oppression”

Instead, Hayes said, “The real issue is Yemen,” and if the sides that supported Iran were successful, could shut down oil shipment from Saudi Arabia to the Persian Gulf.

Still, Hayes stressed the U.S. should exercise caution and get to know the groups.

“We don’t understand these people. I don’t understand them,” Hayes said.

Those in attendance made the most of their queries, and even kept Hayes after the meeting to continue the discussion.

“I enjoyed it. I thought it was very informative,” Daniel Stinson said. “I like having someone that’s actually there and that was actually had a hands-on approach to it as opposed to second hand.

“You really have to go into groups like this to really get in depth information like that.”