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tv   Book TV After Words  CSPAN  June 4, 2011 10:00pm-11:00pm EDT

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on barack obama senior. is his childhood in kenya, his time in u.s. including university of hawaii antenna harvard. it is a story of how harvard in the integration service decided, you know, maybe you're in a lot of trouble. maybe you should leave. what happens when he goes back to kenya? ..
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brings a passion and a level of both detail and scope to this story that we think is unique, and it is quite, it is quite an effort getting a book like this together but absolutely worthwhile and we are thrilled it is going to see trading public in july. >> two books in the media that are out or coming out deal from hell, and inside "the new york times." >> the deal from hell by james o'shea is a story about the "chicago tribune" and what has happened to media businesses from an insider. jim o'shea was a longtime reporter at the "chicago tribune." he became a managing editor at the "l.a. times" so we had a groundwork is a reporter and management experience of being, not quite the other side but in those decision-making meanings and it is the full unvarnished story of what happened to media
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businesses in america by focusing on the story this story at the tribune company. page one is a book in our series of books that we have done in conjunction with participating media. we have done looks in films like food inc. and "waiting for superman" and this is their new film called page one, inside "the new york times" and we have done a book with david who is an mp or media reporter who is a collection of essays writing about taking the subject dionne the film's limitations. the film can tell you in a visceral way can only tell you so much. these essays in this book really tell you more fully what is going on with media today especially digital print and what the future might look like her crispy i know i said to more but we have got one more to look at and this is the unquiet
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american if it is over on the wall, richard holbrooke. >> this is a book that we are very proud to be involved with. richard holbrooke, connie martin came to us, bunch of people and said you know, we think you guys would be perfect to put together a book that really captures richard holbrooke's spirit and what he said gore and the work he did. and our plan was to publish on the upcoming anniversary of his death in december. derek salai and samantha power are the editors. wonderful contributors writing about different parts of holbrooke's life and career, vietnam, bosnia, afpak and we also have some excerpts from holbrooke's on work including his wonderful book and a lot of speeches and essays and thinks he has written over the years and we think he gets it gives an incredible portrait of holbrooke both in his own words and about reflections on his career by people who knew him very well.
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>> we been talking to susan weinberg, publisher of public affairs books, one of the perseus group's imprints, public affairs is the web site. a. >> up next on booktv, after words an hour-long program where we invite guest hosts to interview authors. this week author michael totten on his first book, subor the beirut spring, the rise of hezbollah, and the iranian war against israel. the freelance foreign correspondent whose work has appeared in "the new york times" and "the jerusalem post" presents a first-hand account of hostilities on the ground from the revolution against the serious revolutionary in 2005 tesla's conflict with israel and the elected leaders of lebanon. he discusses hezbollah's history in the future with former u.s. ambassador to syria, richard murphy.
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>> host: you got to lebanon again this was the first time just after the assassination in 2005. >> guest: that's right, he had just been assassinated and on march 1402005, more than a million people took to the streets all of the same time in a country of only 4 million demanded the immediate evacuation of serious military and free and fair elections. i had been visiting lebanon for years and this was the perfect time to conduct a bigger story to come out of the released in the u.s. invasion of iraq so i ordered a ticket for plane and went the right way. >> host: did you have any idea you were getting into such a scene of destruction, desolatio? >> guest: i did not.
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no, i was not expecting anything like destruction are desolation. in 2005, beirut looked and felt like a middle eastern version of berlin in 1989. that is what i thought it was and that is what a lot of people thought it was. but, as we know now in hindsight, syria and iran were able to effectively reconquer the country using hezbollah as their property. so it turned out beirut they were it was really more like budapest in 1956. >> host: what he saw you saw was the cleaned up a route after that 14 years of miserable civil war that they have been had been through in the late 70s right through the 80's, and hariri had organized a cleanup and reconstruction at least at the center of the city. new roads etc.. but that wasn't enough to get the syrians out of the country. the fact that the lebanese were
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finding new pride and a new sense of nationalism and. how do you explain what was called the cedar revolution with all those millions in the streets? >> guest: well, the syrian occupation in lebanon have been in place since 1990 at the end of the civil war and the civil war basically ended when syria conquered the country and disarmed all of the lebanese militias with the exception of hezbollah. but the syrian occupation was never -- it was not supposed to last 15 years. it was supposed to be according to the agreement, temporary. the syrians were supposed to be there to make the piece and then slowly withdraw that the syrians didn't leave so more and more companies people began to chafe against this and the assassination of the fairly popular former sunni prime minister was the last straw.
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>> host: you know syria had gone at lebanon's invitation in the earlier period of the 70s and stayed really from 76 you could say until 2005. so it was a long period. and a lot of syrians have always regarded lebanon as part of their country, which it wasn't till after the first world war. so, they left very reluctantly but they left so it must have been this sense of an irresistible force wanting them out. >> guest: yeah. there were too many people in lebanon who weren't going to put up with it anymore and also the united states in france are putting enormous pressure on syria's assad to get out of lebanon. i think i saw it was concerned about the recent u.s. invasion of iraq and he told joe kline of
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"time" magazine, he said please send this message. i am not saddam hussein. i want to cooperate and he left shortly thereafter. so i think it was a combination of pressure against him from with inside lebanon and pressure against him from outside lebanon also. and it was too much for him. >> host: and concerned the united states and others might actually move against him militarily as they had in iraq? >> guest: i think the odds of that happening were zero. it wasn't going to happen but i'm not certain that assad knew that. >> host: i think you are right. >> guest: he was more paranoid than he got to have been but this does seem to have been a factor. >> host: well, the book focuses a lot on the role of hezbollah in what you call the beirut spring. weirded hezbollah come from? what helps motivate their leaders? >> guest: the eye rainy --
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iranian revolutionary court dispatch 1500 or so commanders from battlefields in the iran-iraq war in 1982 and sent them to lebanon to cobb valley and eastern side of the country along the syrian border. they did this because the israelis demolished yes, sir arafat's, palestinian state within a state that the palestinians had created the west beirut and in south lebanon and the palestinians were using lebanon as basically a launchpad for attacks in israel and the israeli stated. iran responded by sending iranian revolutionary guard corps to lebanon to armedarm, equip and train and fund lebanese shia to resist the israeli invasion and occupation. over time, it grew and became much more sophisticated organization called hezbollah
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and airbag naming -- mini-party and arabic meaning god. it grew to become not just a guerrilla army but also at the same time a political party. now it is so well-armed, better armed than lebanon's army so in some ways it is not only guerrilla/terrorist army but also a somewhat provincial army and a political party and they own territories inside lebanon that they entirely controlled, so lebanon is almost like a schism in lebanon where there are two governments, to different parts of the country. >> host: go back to, by 2005 the assassination. hezbollah had existed as an organization, what? since 82 or 83? >> guest: 82. >> host: what was in it for iran to go into it? was adjust the color of the eyes
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of the lebanese? >> guest: for iran, iran has a regional, iran wants to be the most powerful country in the middle east in order for them to do that, they need allies in the rest of the middle east, and they don't have very many. because iran is shia and persian whereas most of the arab world is arab rather than person and 70. but in both lebanon and iraq is where there are substantial numbers of shia. they actually make up a majority in iraq and substantial minority in lebanon and so lebanon she is were willing to accept iranian assistance in exchange for acting as iran's proxy. against lebanese christians, sunnis and also against the israelis. so it was a mutual win-win
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relationship for both of them because iran, the revolutionary guard now basically has a forward base military unit. >> host: but after all, the shia of southern lebanon where they are concentrated, had welcomed the israelis when they came in a couple of years earlier. >> guest: yes they did. that is one of the great ironies of the situation because the reason the lebanese shia initially welcomed the israeli invasion was because the shia is from south lebanon were being governed by yasser arafat's palestinian state within a state which was sunni. it was a foreign implant and it was sunni and the plo was rather contemptuous of the shia's who lived in south lebanon and the plo was also putting them in danger by using south lebanon as a launching pad for attacks on israel. israel of course responded
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militarily and the shia's who lived there for cod in the crossfire. said they were unhappy about this. so yeah they welcomed the israelis initially when they invaded in 1982 because the israelis demolished the palestinian entity that have been governing them that the israelis didn't leave. so over time, the lebanese shia from the south became increasing lee disgruntled and they chafed against the israeli occupation much like the rest of lebanon chafed against the syrian occupation when syria came and at the end of the war and didn't leave her go so there was a bit of the similarity here. >> host: okay but wasn't there something in iran as well the show the iranian revolution and an islamic rebelish and, not just the shia. >> guest: that's right and hezbollah and the iranian government hoped against extremely long odds, they actually hope that hezbollah
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could become powerful enough to turn lebanon into an iranian style islamic state. that was another part of their original goal which was always going to be extremely difficult because the she is in lebanon make up only roughly a third of the country and the other two-thirds are made up of christians, sunnis and druze who are going to be automatically categorically hostile to an iranian style shiite -- so hezbollah never really had any likelihood of success at that if they could get everything they wanted that is what they would get and that was what they were striving for. >> host: iran managed to identify itself with the radical forces that have been trying to undermine israel such as hezbollah, hamas on the palestinian side so it was a win-win in that sense that it
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was a good export, showed that they had a vestige for the arab world, that they could have greater leverage if they play their cards right. but you mentioned time. the israelis wore out their welcome. the syrians were out their welcome. what are the prospects of iran wearing out its welcome with the shia and it is already not welcome among many other groups. >> guest: it is a little bit different because iran does not occupy the country with its own army and it doesn't control the country directly. it controls -- iran and syria jointly control lebanon's foreign policy and internal security policy that they really don't control much else because there are no syrian soldiers in the country. there are no iranian soldiers in the country. hezbollah occupies and controls its own territory where its supporters live but hezbollah doesn't govern directly or
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really even indirectly anybody else in the country, so they are going about it in a much more sophisticated way. if you are christian living in the east beirut or the coastal city of jini, your daily life is utterly unaffected by any of this where as when the syrians were occupying the country are daily life was very much affected by the fact that your cities and neighborhoods were occupied by his syrian military. but today hezbollah stays in its corner and leaves everyone alone as long as they don't try to get an hezbollah's way and as long as hezbollah continues to be able to control and dictate lebanon's foreign and internal security policy. >> host: you know the shia of lebanon have been treated badly, let's say, by their fellow citizens in lebanon. as long as i can remember. >> guest: hundreds of years.
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>> host: hundreds of years. certainly by the 80's it was still a community considered second class, third class. they didn't rate the very top positions and yet their numbers have grown. if you want to talk one man, one vote they were getting to a position where they could demand more power. but do you think they want to take over the state of lebanon to be the government of lebanon? you mentioned that was an iranian thought at one stage. >> guest: i think they ideological hardliners of hezbollah would like to take over the lebanese state although i imagine they no it is not really possible. the pragmatists among them make it not possible so what they really want more realistically is as much power for themselves as they can. there is a lot of fear among the hezbollah people that if they disarm their militia and integrate into the lebanese political mainstream and compete
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for power democratically like everybody else does, that they are going to refer to being second class citizens again. they have a real inferiority and persecution complex that is not conway and you could say hezbollah is their revenge against the sunnis and christians that have for a long time mistreated them and kept them economically and politically marginalize. they really are afraid of being marginalized all over again. if they give up their guns. they might be right, i don't know. >> host: well, the period you were there was a time of considerable violence and turbulence politically and on the ground. i mean you bring the light very vividly into your account what it meant to travel the streets not just of south lebanon near the israeli border but in beirut itself. it was very dicey and talk a bit
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about that. you were there as an american journalist. was that a bad thing to be in the local view? >> guest: it was a great thing to be in 2005, because the united states, people and government and most of the media were on the side of the lebanese revolting against the syrians. so i mean they route in 2005 is probably the most pro-american place in arab world but the hezbollah area in the suburbs south of a rude and a long the border with israel, it was much dicier. i was not at all welcome there eating an american and i would only go to those places with lebanese escorts because i mean it looked very much like an american. i don't look lebanese and also i would be approached by hezbollah security people every time i went into their area and the only way that i could deflect
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being detained and questioned was to have lebanese people with me who could explain and smooth things over and basically keep hezbollah away from me. >> host: but it was not comfortable at all. i got stared at a lot. and not stared at in a way that people were staring at me because they were curious about a foreigner. no, it was hostile staring even from women. not only from men but also from women. >> host: you also get into a situation where there are traditions of hospitality, traditions of your welcome, have another cup of coffee and you are fine, we just hate your government policies. was that your experience, a little guilty about americans and america? >> guest: well, the lebanese hospitality is legendary and it is real and dealing with
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hezbollah itself, got both. they said to me, when i went down to their press relations office they gave me coffee, they gave me tea. they gave me food. they were really warm and hospitable and welcoming at first, and this hospitality was followed by threats and belligerence and eventually being black worsted. and what started all this was i cracked a joke about hezbollah on my blog and i have absolutely no sense of humor whatsoever. and their press secretary called me. i knew this guy. he was a nice guy up until this moment and he called me up screaming at me, saying who do you think we are? we know who you are. we read everything you write, and we know where you live. this was for cracking a joke on my blog. i hadn't even written an article yet about these guys. >> host: they were reading
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between the lines you had written. >> guest: i guess they figure the article i was going to write was not going to be friendly and they were right about that. but i certainly was less sympathetic to them after being threatened over the phone by a group that is still listed by the united states government as a terrorist organization. i mean they violated my personal rule of media relations, which is be nice to people who write about you for a living. they don't seem to get that. >> host: it was a kind of a first experience for them. you were one of the first to be in such direct prolonged contact with their spokesmen and their followers. and they weren't clearly, they weren't sure where they were. the idea is for. >> journalists. that is the way it goes. here is our story. you take it in you printed.
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>> guest: i am an american. i don't do that. we don't do that. we are not supposed to do that especially with a group like hezbollah. so yeah they were unhappy and i am not by any means they'll need journalist who has had an experience like this with them. i mean they have threatened quite a few american journalist and european journalist. they do it on a regular basis. it is part of their modus operandi. they will be nice to you and threatening at the same time. >> host: at that stage, as you cross beirut from the western -- westernize part of the city and to the suburbs that they control, you write as if it was going into a foreign country as if you had a visa to a clear distinction and even more so as you move south towards the lebanese israeli corridor. you were not in an area then at
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least that the government of lebanon had any authority. >> guest: right. hezbollah has authority in these areas but the differences were go way beyond who has authority there. any americans who would fly to beirut today and get off the plane and go downtown would be in a part of a world that they recognize because it really is a place where the east meets the west and it all makes us together. you will see as american fragments of the western civilization mixing and with the east. you will see starbucks and things like this and you will see women who dress like french and italian women rather than wearing the headscarf or even a failed. and so most americans feel pretty comfortable there. i felt immediately very comfortable there. and when you go to the suburbs south of the city which are controlled by hezbollah, all of
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it disappears. the level of economic development plunges. certainly there aren't any starbucks or anything like this, and you also will see very few women dressed in the modern way. almost all of them are dressed very conservatively with it either headscarves are wearing the fuhe t oftheir head to the bottoms of their feet with only their face showing. you see a lot of women like this. you won't see the lebanon flight. instead you see the hezbollah flag with his ak-47 assault rifle logo. occasionally i saw the iranian flag but never the lebanese flag. there are posters on the walls and hanging from lampposts showing the faces of dead young men who were killed in battle with israel and they are all
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over the place. very creepy. >> host: you know it is a country where this extraordinary mix of religious faith, political ideologies seems and constant, a state of constant adjustment and accommodation. at least the news i have had recently is that in that suburb the lebanese government is now able to have some investment in schools, inroads, and health clinics. is it that maybe hasbro is running short of money and the iranians are not being as generous as they had expected? it sounds like the beginning of a civilian lebanese process of assimilating new challenges and that is the way they like to
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describe themselves as a mosaic. mosaics are different colors, different sized pieces but for some peculiar reason they stick together. how do you see it? >> guest: well, i don't think it is true that the lebanese government is being allowed now by hezbollah to invest in health care and education and the sort of thing and they area that is hezbollah controlled. up until now hezbollah would not permit the lebanese governments to do this because at one of the people who lived in these neighborhoods to be entirely loyal to the party rather than to the government which is pluralistic and has multiple parties and multiple confessions and multiple ideologies, the mosaic that you describe. hezbollah wanted to keep its part of the country yanked out, basically out of the mosaic and hermetically sealed off from the rest of the country. so, you have got a situation
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where there are a lot of poor people in the areas they control that both for and support hezbollah not necessarily or exclusively because hezbollah picks a fight once in a while with the israelis but he goes hezbollah paid for your children's schooling. if you get sick you go to a hezbollah hospital and it won't cost you any money and they will take care of you. they have a cradle-to-grave sort of system that kept everyone and their territory a way from all the other civic infrastructure that the rest of the lebanese use and share and where they meet and interact with each other. >> host: that you were there when hezbollah did some kidnappings of israeli soldiers, couple of israeli soldiers and israel in 2006, a year after the assassination that brought you there, brought the roof down. it was not just on military targets in the south.
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they took out bridges in the north of lebanon and they have laid the official buildings controlled by hezbollah's leadership flat in southern beirut. now didn't that cost them something? >> guest: cost hezbollah? >> host: in terms of lebanese public? >> guest: i mean the lebanese public was very angry at the israelis for hitting infrastructure throughout the country rather than just in the hezbollah area and the israelis did this because hezbollah had kidnapped their soldiers and the israelis did not want hezbollah to take the soldiers out of lebanon over bridges and out through the airport or the syrian land border where the soldiers could not be rescued. but the huge consequence to his real hitting the infrastructure throughout the country is everybody in lebanon is various and feels like israel is
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attacking all of lebanon rather than just going after hezbollah. the first day or so of the war there were a lot of lebanese people in beirut who were not upset with the israelis for striking back. they figure that will hezbollah started it and hezbollah deserved and these lebanese people didn't like hezbollah anyway so they weren't going to shed many tears if the israelis bombed them but then the israelis -- in the entire country was absolutely furious. but at the same time, they were just as furious at hezbollah for starting it. and they bit their tongues for the most part during the war because they felt some solidarity with the less the -- hezbollah but the minute israel stop bombing lebanon everyone i know in lebanon who is already opposed to hezbollah was much much much more so and there was a lot of talk at the time among christians and sunni communities
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that they're really disgruntled people might start reconstituting their militias. they didn't do it, but this is what people were saying. this is how angry they were at hezbollah for starting that war in 2006. that they might actually start rearming them and moving into hezbollah on their own if they wouldn't do it. they didn't do this but this is how they felt. and this is what they were thinking. >> host: did you get the impression that message got through to the hezbollah leaders? >> guest: i think so, yes. hezbollah neutralized it in 2008 but it invaded west beirut and the whole western half of the city fell and a in a day and a half with almost no resistance at all. and hezbollah showed not only does it have the power to launch rockets into israel. these rockets and missiles don't scare the lebanese because those
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missiles are clearly aimed at israel only as well is not going to fire missiles into their own country. they wouldn't be in. but they have real tactical skills off the street with an ak-47, much more so than anybody who might resist them and it is very successfully intimidated all of hezbollah's internal political opponents into basically surrendering and saying okay, you guys, what do you want? you guys can do whatever you want, just stop, stop. >> host: so they show their muscle. do you think they had persuaded any broad section of lebanon that they are the only ones capable of defending the country against their arch enemy of israel? >> guest: there are people who think that, although everybody knows that israel is more powerful than hezbollah and hezbollah cannot stop an israeli invasion that there are people who believe that the lebanese army won't do anything.
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they are right, the lebanese army won't do anything and the hezbollah is strong enough to act as a deterrent to keep the israelis from invading. there are many many lebanese who believe this and i think there is a statement. what hezbollah really is a magnet that draws the israelis and. israel would have no reason to invade lebanon if there was no threat inside of lebanon. hezbollah didn't exist the border would be quiet and that would be that. that many people in lebanon don't see it that way, although some of them do. they argue about this amongst themselves. >> host: it is an argument still in process. yeah. well, across the border, which is still not fully drawn with syria. what do you understand is the syrian attitude towards hezbollah? is it a useful instrument for
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syria? >> guest: that is exactly what it is. hezbollah is useful to the syrians for a couple of reasons. one, the syrian government is iran's ally and hezbollah is iran's project so syria will help for that reason but with syria gets out of it is to things. the government in damascus gets credit for championing the resistance against israel by sponsoring hezbollah, but doesn't have to take any punishment when israel responds because hezbollah exists in lebanon. lebanon rather than syria gets bombed. so i thought a sickly gets to have his cake and eat it too. but hezbollah has also proven very vividly in 2008, very useful against the lebanese government because the syrian government wants to dominate lebanon as much as possible which is there -- varied typical. baby is very ungovernable on has
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been for decades but if the lebanese government does what hezbollah, syria or iran doesn't want hezbollah can just run a roughshod over everybody else and take the n. tate terms. so, yeah hezbollah is useful against her slum and beirut simultaneously. >> host: well, then here's this question. what degree could syria control hezbollah, going back in time in the 80's when there were troubles in the border area and hezbollah was identified as the instigator. we could go to damascus and say to assad's father, this could get out of hand and he would never say i will do something about it and yet the trouble stopped. it happened many times to be coincidental. do you think he could do that
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today? >> guest: assad has more -- the iranian government has more. i think that iran could do it. if iran were to give orders to hezbollah to do or stop doing something that would happen at once like it did in the 80's interior. with syria were to do it today, that was probably also be effective unless the syrian and iranian governments were at odds with each other. of the syrian iranian governments disagreed on what the policy was going to be the iranian government would i think when that argument. but it is all very murky. i mean, there are four charts so to speak that are not obvious. so it is hard to say. >> host: this year in connection with lebanon is an internet one by marriage, by
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commerce, by history. if you were born in beirut in the 1920s. you were born according to your identification documents in beirut, syria. >> guest: right. >> host: so you know, the syrian role which they have spoken of so often i am sure you have heard it there, was we have been the leaders of resistance to israel's expansion and threats to arabism, air of nationalism from the beginning. so there is a lot of pride there. wounded pride has a lot of other air pleaders don't recognize it as a great leader. nonsense hezbollah is an unspoken strength of the syrian regime. >> guest: yeah. >> host: should americans care
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about lebanese politics in the future? >> guest: yes and the reason is because lebanon, for a long time, has been one of the places where the middle east fights its wars, and it is a place that draws in foreign powers whether they want to be drawn in or not. and because iran controls hezbollah and because hezbollah controls the lebanese side and the lebanese israeli border what that border has become basic wade is the frontline in the arab-israeli conflict, the frontline in the iranian the israeli conflict and the line where iran confronts the west in general. we consider israel to be a western country, which i think we should and a big enough war involving israel, lebanon, syria and iran could easily draw the united states and united states and whether we like it or not.
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and that lebanese israeli border will be the epicenter if a regionwide war involving these countries breaks out. i think we should care very much about what goes on there because we may end up getting sucked into it. we have in the past gotten sucked into it. >> host: yeah we have. the lebanese have never been reluctant to invite outsiders and to serve their particular community. >> guest: that is right. a lot of the christian parties would love to have a show up right now. >> host: notches the u.s., the west. >> guest: a lot of the sunnis would be happy with it too. i think it would be a bad idea but a good chunk of lebanon would welcome us today. >> host: after the first war our representatives caught traveling in the area from washington turned down a request to take over the mandate from the league of nations for lebanon and syria.
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thank god we didn't get sucked into that one but you are right the pressure to come in and help has been constant. what is the prospect of hezbollah being integrated into the lebanese political system? there is a parliament. they are sharp politicians. i'm told in the lebanese parliamentary system. >> guest: i think it is inevitable if eventually that hezbollah is not going to eternally were all time be an iranian militia. it will eventually have to be integrated because lebanon cannot be divided into more than one state. it is too small and the shia population, which is hezbollah's support base is fragmented into three different basis. the middle of the country in the southern part of the country along the israeli border and in the northern macaw valley.
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that is where the shia's live. they live in three little isolated pockets. you can't carve them out and give them their own borders. it is just not possible so eventually they're they are going to have to reconcile with their countrymen and join the political mainstream, but i don't think it is likely to happen until there are either new governments or very serious reforms in syria and iran because syria and iran are willing to give hezbollah anything it needs and hezbollah is willing to accept help from outside and nobody has any reason to break seven these relationships. >> host: well, we are talking today, while the air of spring is still in full blossom.
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at least superficially it hasn't reached beirut. there is then no revolt against the government because as one said there ain't no government to revolt against. there is a caretaker, prime minister, caretaker cabinet, so lebanon remains in flux. syria is under considerable internal pressure, which haven't been as organized as they were in cairo, in tunis before and the outcome in syria is unclear. but let's stretch ahead if possible, enough to get away from the theme of your book. if past is prologue, what might this first major revolution in 60 years throughout that region bring to lebanon, bring to hezbollah? >> guest: well, if the syrian government falls like that which is so recently in tunisia and
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egypt, it will be a huge earthquake throughout the region. >> host: huai? >> guest: because syria is critical for hezbollah's existence in lebanon and for iran's arming and equipping hezbollah because it is the crucial link in the logistics chain. all of the missiles that hezbollah acquires to fire into israel comes over the land border between lebanon and syria. if there is a new government in syria that doesn't want to play this game than hezbollah is going to have very serious problems. the syrian government, a new syrian government will have almost no leverage inside lebanon at all because syria has this intricate web of bribed and bullied officials in lebanon that uses its hold there and all those relationships will dissolve at once with this new government.
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somebody rising in power in damascus will have to start from zero in my and my not even be interested in trying to dominate lebanon in the first place. so this would be very bad for hezbollah. it would be very bad for iran, but i don't expect to see this in syria anytime soon. because assad like gadhafi and libya, is willing to shoot as many people as he thinks he has to to stay in power. that is clear. the body count is now somewhere around 1000 his father killed tens of thousands in 1982 during an uprising in his regime. everybody in syria remembers this. how can they forget? 20 to 40,000 people killed in 1982. they still remembered and they sometimes still talk about it. nobody's going to go in and stop the syrian government from massacring its citizens. it is just not going to happen.
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we have got a no-fly zone over libya right now, but gadhafi is an easy target. he is low-hanging fruit. he doesn't have any friends in the world who are going to write to his rescue. the syrian government has hezbollah in lebanon and iran, the islamic republic regime in iran. nobody in the west wants to do anything to stop him. it could ignite a regional war so he is basically, aside from getting sanctioned he will be allowed to do whatever he wants and no one will stop them. i don't see any reason why he wouldn't kill 20,000 people if he thinks he has to do it. eventually the uprising in syria will probably subeight i think. obeyed i think. i hope i'm wrong. >> host: i don't think anybody knows how it is going to come out. the challenge from the muslim brotherhood in those days, they
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felt it was a serious one and they had to watch their air force cadets be blown up. they watched a grenade being thrown at the president and all. so there was a lot of rumblings but then yeah he ordered field artillery to be used against the city of hamas. how many? 10,000, 15, 20,000 guys. sure, that memory has not died. but, it would not lead necessarily to eight cut off of relations of a wide variety with lebanon so syria will continue to be a player. you know, every intelligence service in the world has been presented in beirut and syria, syria certainly has been a dominant one. they have for many years.
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the ties of family and business are strong and they are not going to be dissolved by a change of regime. so they still have a role to play there, and god willing it will be a responsible one that we will see the area itself, the region as a whole start to move atlas towards a general peace. do you think hezbollah could survive a general peace? >> guest: hezbollah would survive? >> host: a general peace agreement? >> guest: hezbollah would resist a general peace agreement. it is hard to say, if there was a new sirri and government signing a new peace treaty with israel and be there implicitly or explicitly gave the lebanese government the option to sign a peace treaty with israel, hezbollah would probably do
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anything it could to make that piece not viable but it would also have serious difficulty convincing other lebanese people that it should be supported in this because like we mentioned earlier, one reason that hezbollah has some support in the country is because some lebanese people to believe that the only thing that keeps the israelis from invading is the deterrence that hezbollah created. but it if israel signs a peace treaty with the lebanese government, then it is going to be more difficult for hezbollah to convince lebanese people that it is necessary to keep the israelis out if the israelis are also proving that they have no desire and signing a treaty. hezbollah will do whatever it can to prevent this from ever happening because it would seriously hurt the organization and they know it. >> host: how monolithic is it
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as an organization today? >> guest: there are like in any organization, there are ideological hardliners and there are pragmatists and their supporters are less monolithic than the organizations themselves. some lebanese support hezbollah because they really drunk the kool-aid about resistance and radical islam and jihad. other support hezbollah because hezbollah pays for schools and hospitals. other support hezbollah because hezbollah brings power and dignity to the shia community that has been marginalized economically and politically for hundreds of years. i have met many of these people who have no interest whatsoever in the thing in an iranian style state and they have no interest
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whatsoever in the war with israel and yet they support hezbollah so hezbollah knows they have diverse, a diverse support base and have to try as hard as they can to make all of these people happy at the same time which is very difficult to do. eventually it is i think going to be impossible for them to do. it is just a matter of time before all of these contradictions work themselves out and something different happens. >> host: and they have to contend with again the way the history, the persians and arabs have had pretty tense times. the idea of an iranian society really taking root in the arab world is hard to see and if it works for incidents in iraq, can that story is fully told but that they will end up as a confirmed arab state in a non-theocratic state despite the
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help that iran has been providing to shia elements in that government and that community. so lebanon might just reassert itself once again as it has in history and accommodate the new challenges. you can see that. >> guest: in the long run i think it will be okay. >> host: in the long run we are all dead. >> guest: that too. >> host: would you go back and why would you go back? >> guest: i love the place and i would like to go back this summer but it is so quiet and there is nothing really happening. i am a journalist after all. i mean this summer would be a great time to go is a tourist but not as a journalist because there's nothing happening so i will wait for the cauldron to start bubbling up little bit before going back. but look, i love beirut. is one of the great cities in the world and you have been there of course. i don't know a single american who has been there that didn't fall in love at the place and i know how crazy that sounds for
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people who have never been there who imagine beirut to be a dysfunctional, violent wreck of a place like baghdad and baghdad really is like that. i've been there many times that beirut used to be called paris which is a bit of an exaggeration. is not paris. it is a version of paris with a lot of blown up buildings that have been barely patched up again but it there are also sections of the city that are incredibly beautiful and i've never been anywhere that has so much vibrancy as beirut. nowhere in the world. tel aviv comes close sometimes but beirut i have to say, beirut beats tel aviv. >> host: well, i'm not sure i want to see lebanon stay a great interest to you as a journalist because that is going to be a lot or bloodshed and suffering to make a story worthy of our front pages.
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but, i think there is a hope in the area of that they will find arrangements that will bring hezbollah and and iran will be seen as he is, a friendly influence on a certain part of the lebanese community but not going to be running, not going to be running. i hope you will get to syria and try to see the picture from outside as well. but you have brittany very absorbing, very vivid account of what it means to live and survive in an atmosphere of terrific violence and almost mindless hostility towards each other. just go ahead and shoot and somehow that will bring your
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site to the top. did you feel that? >> guest: there is this -- lebanon is a dark, tragic place and there are unfortunately a large number people actually think they will make their lives better by shooting at their neighbor. >> host: as a negotiator. >> guest: it doesn't work actually. it never does. the civil war went on for 15 years. i mean it is hard to keep track of all the different sides of action even though i have been going to lebanon for years and have written a book about the place. it is still hard to keep it all straight. is sort of like world war i. nobody one. nobody really accomplish much of anything. i mean their ex-president had a great quote about this. i can't quote imprecisely but to paraphrase, something to the effect he set everybody's against everyone and we'll keep going around and around in circles without anything being accomplished and nobody ever winning.
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and i think most lebanese people at this point have internalized this and realize that yes that is how it is. and when everybody in the country fully internalizes this lesson is what i think the country will be okay. >> host: it is not quite there yet unfortunately. you suggested at one point that lebanon could not survive in a sea of autocracy with the neighbors that it has. do you feel that still? >> guest: yeah. lebanon cannot -- lebanon cannot survive and make democratic country surrounded by hostile dictatorship not when there are certain percentage of the population said the country willing to work with those foreign dictators. the country can't hold up against that kind of pressure unfortunately. huesca you are asking for a lot of changes to get toward peace. thank so much.
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appreciate and exchange. and good luck on the book sales. >> guest: thank you. >> that was after words booktv signature program in which authors of latest nonfiction books are interviewed by journalists, public policy make her's, legislators and others familiar with their material. after words airs every weekend on booktv at 10:00 p.m. on saturday, 12 and 9:00 p.m. on sunday and 12:00 a.m. on monday. you can also watch after words on line. go to and click on after words in the booktv series and topics listed in the upper right side of the page. >> what are you reading this summer? booktv wants to know. >> well, i'm reading a book about the coldest winter and quite frankly, i have not been wanting to open up the pages to
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it. it goes over the korean war and for most people who are familiar with the korean war said, you don't want to know. what do they mean by that? well, i was in korea when the chinese actually surrounded the entire eighth army and it was a nightmare. fortunately this was over 60 years ago and have suffered psychologically about that war. it pains me when i think of the number of americans that died in korea and it even becomes more difficult when people ask me to explain my heroic actions in a country i had no idea where i was and why i was there.
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so, i thought it would be better not to expose myself to any more of this nightmare. and i wasn't alone. i have about six different copies of this one book by david halberstam. all of them say that their worst thoughts about what happened was actually proven by this book. as to why we got involved. did we know what we were doing? was it successful? so, i feel secure enough now at 80 years old to take a look at what happened


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