tv Book TV After Words CSPAN June 5, 2011 9:00pm-10:00pm EDT
who worked with her, but i wrote and researched from afar. >> what is bully books? >> we have books on the chronicals of narnia, bob dylan and his spiritual background and operate in the sphere of the where the three intersect. >> what's your background? >> a formerly with cnn back in the day. i write for the "huffington post" and i'm a film producer. >> this is the book "wild card". ..
with israel and the elected leaders of the imam. he discusses his will's history and the future with you mess ambassador to syria richard murphy. >> host: you've gone to lebanon i gather for the first time just after the assassination of 2005. >> guest: that's right. he had just been assassinated in march 14th in 2005, more than a million people took to the streets at the same time in a country of only 4 million demanded the immediate evacuation of serious's military
i'd been wanting to visit lebanon for years and this was the perfect time, the story to come out of the middle east since the invasion of iraq so i ordered the airplane and went right away. >> host: did you have any idea you were getting into such a scene of destruction, desolation, wild accusations? >> guest: i did not. i wasn't expecting anything like destruction or desolation. in 2005 the root looked like a middle eastern version of berlin in 1989. that's what i thought it was. and that's 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 proxy and it turned on the route is more like budapest in 1952.
>> host: the cleaned out of the road after the late 70's right through the 80's and the construction at the center of the city and new roads cetera. but that wasn't enough to to get the syrians out of the country, the fact that the lebanese were fighting a new crimes and a sense of nationalism. how do you explain what was called the seat of revolution with all those? >> guest: the syrian occupation had been in place since 1990 at the end of the civil war and it basically ended when assyria conquered the country and disarmed all of the lebanese militia with the exception of hezbollah but the syrian occupation was never supposed to last 15 years.
it was supposed to be according to the agreement temporary. the syrians were supposed to be there to make peace, and then slowly withdraw. so more and more lebanese people began to which case against and the assassination of the popular sunni prime minister. >> host: you know syria has gone into earlier period in the 70's and from 76 you could say in 2005 so for a long period a lot of syrians always regarded lebanon as part of their country which it was until after the first world war. so they left very reluctantly, but they left, so it must have
been a sense of the irresistible force wanting them out. >> guest: there were too many people in lebanon who were not going to put up with it anymore and the united states and france were putting the enormous pressure on syria to get out of iran and i think that al asad was concerned about of the recent u.s. invasion of iraq. he told joe klein of "time" magazine please send this message i am not saddam hussein. i want to cooperate. and he left shortly thereafter. so i think was a combination of pressure against him from within inside lebanon and from outside lebanon also and it was too much for him. >> host: and concern the united states and others might move against him militarily as they had in iraq? >> guest: the odds of that happening were zero.
it wasn't going to happen but i'm not sure that he knew that. he was more paranoid than he ought to have been. >> host: that focuses on the role of hezbollah in what you call today root spring. where did hezbollah come from? what helped motivate their leaders? >> guest: the iranian revolutionary guard corps dispatched 1500 or so commanders from battlefields to the iran iraq war 1982 and sent them to lebanon's valley on the eastern side of the country, and they did this because the israelis invaded lebanon to demolish yasser arafat, the palestinian state within a state that they create the west beirut and south lebanon and the palestinians were reducing lebanon as a
launchpad for attacks on israel and the invaded. so iran responded by sending the revolutionary guard corps to arm and train and fund lebanese shia to resist the invasion and occupation. and over time it grew and became much more sophisticated organization called hezbollah and it grew to become not just the army but also at the same time a political party. and now it is so well on her than the lebanese army and so it's in some ways not only a guerrilla army but a conventional army and the political party and their own territory inside lebanon that they entirely to call, soap
lebanon is almost like a schism where there are two governments to different parts of the country. >> host: by 2005 the assassination hezbollah had insisted as an organization since '82, '83 -- 82. okay, what was in it for iran to go in like that? >> guest: iran has a regional -- iran wants to be the most powerful country in the middle east, and in order for them to do that, they need allies in the middle east and they don't have very many because iran with is shia and persian where most of the arab world as eda brother and persian and sunni both lebanon and iraq there are two countries where there are a
substantial number of shia muslims and the minority in lebanon and they are willing to accept the iranian assistance in exchange for acting out iran a proxy against lebanese christians and sunnis and the israelis. >> it is a mutual win-win relationship for both of them because the iranian revolutionary guard corps now has a forward base on the mediterranean. >> host: after all, the shia of lebanon where they were concentrated has welcomed the israelis when they came in a couple of years earlier. >> guest: that's one of the great ironies of the situation because the reason they initially welcomed the israeli invasion as because the shia in
south lebanon were being governed by yasser arafat's palestinian state which was sunni for en and planned and was sunni and the plo was rather contemptuous of the shia us who live in south lebanon and also putting them in danger by using south lebanon as a launching pad for a check with israel and of course responded militarily as though she does who lived there, so they were unhappy about this. they welcomed the israelis initially when they invaded in 1982 because the israelis demolished the palestinian that have been governing them that the israelis didn't leave and so, over time of the lebanese and the shia in the south became increasingly disgruntled and a sheet against the occupation much like the rest of lebanon
against syrian occupation when syria came and they didn't leave so there was a bit of a similarity. >> okay. but wasn't their something in it for iran that showed the iranian revolution and the islamic revolution not just for shia? >> guest: that's right. hezbollah and the iranian government hoped against extremely long odds and they hoped hezbollah could become powerful enough in to turn lebanon into an irony in style islamic stang. that would be another part of their original goal. which is always going to be extremely difficult because the shia and lebanon make up roughly one-third of the country and the other two-thirds are made up of christians, sunnis who are going to be automatically category to an iranian style so hezbollah
never really had any success but if they could get everything they wanted, that's what they would get and that is what they were striving for. >> host: kuran managed to identify itself with the radical forces that were trying to undermine israel such as hezbollah, hamas and the palestinian side. so, it was a win-win in that sense that it was a good export and showed the had a message for the arab world that they could have a great leverage if they played their cards right. but you mentioned the israelis wore out their welcome, the syrians were out their welcome. what is the prospect of iran where ring out its welcome with the shia and it's already welcome dimond -- >> guest: the iranian power is not welcomed by the majority but it's 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 controls lebanon's foreign policy and internal security policy but they don't control much else because there are no syrian soldiers in the country, no irony in soldiers in the country. hezbollah offered its own territory where it's supporters live but hezbollah doesn't govern directly or indirectly anybody else in the country, so they are going about it in a much more sophisticated way and if you are a christian living in east beirut or the coastal city, you're daily life is not affected by any of this. when the syrians occupied the country they were very much affected by the fact that neighborhoods were occupied by the syrian military. but today hezbollah state in its corner and leaves everybody alone as long as they don't try
to get in hezbollah's way and as long as they continue to be able to control and dictate lebanon's policy. >> even though the shia of lebanon have been treated badly, their fellow citizens in lebanon as long as i can remember and hundreds of years certainly by the 80's was still the community considered second-class, first-class. they didn't rate the top positions, and yet their numbers have grown. if you want to talk they were getting to the position they could demand more power. do you think they want to take over the state of lebanon to be the government of lebanon? the iranians thought at one
stage. >> of the hard-liners of hezbollah would like to take over the state also i imagine they know it's not really possible. the pragmatist's among them must know it's not possible so what they want more realistically is more power for themselves as they can and there's a lot of fear that if they disarm their militia and integrate into the lebanese mainstream and compete for power democratically like every bit the else does that they are going to revert to being second-class citizens again. they have a persecution complex that hasn't gone away, and you could say hezbollah is a revenge against the sunnis and christians that have for a long time mistreated them and hurt them economically and politically marginalized and they are afraid of being marginalized all over again if they give up their guns.
they might be right. i don't know. >> the period you were there is the time of considerable violence and turbulence politically and on the ground. you bring a very vividly in 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. as a talk 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. >> guest: people and government and media were on the side of the lebanese revolting against syrians so in 2005 beirut is the most pro-american place in the arab world.
in south of beirut and along the border with israel it was much dicier. i was not at all welcome there being an american, and i would only go to those places with lebanese exports because i looked very much like an american, i told local lebanese of all, so i would be approached by the security people any time i went into their area and the only way that i could direct being detained and questioned was to have lebanese people with me who said explain and move things over and basically keep hezbollah away from me. but it was not comfortable tall and i got scared that a lot and not in the way people staring at me because they are curious about a foreigner. it was hostile even from women, not only men but also from women.
>> host: you also get into a situation where there are traditions of hospitality, have another cup of coffee, and you're fine, we just take your government policies. was that your experience about americans and america? >> well, the lebanese hospitality is legendary and it's real and dealing with hezbollah itself i got both. i got to the press relations office they gave me coffee and tea and food and they were really warm and welcoming at first, and this hospitality was followed by threats and belligerence and eventually being blacklisted and was startled this is i cracked a joke about hezbollah on my blog come and they have no sense of humor whatsoever, and the press
secretary called me, and i knew this guy, he was a nice guy up until this moment he called me screaming at me saying who do you think we are? we know who you are. we've read everything you write and we know where you live. this was for cracking a joke on my blog. i haven't even written an article about these guys. >> host: between the lines you had written. >> guest: the article i was going to write was not going to be friendly and they were right about that, but i was less sympathetic to them after being threatened by a group still by the united states government as a terrorist organization. the media relations as be nice to people who write about you for a living.
>> host: it was a kind first experience to be in such direct prolonged conflict with a their spokesman, and clearly they were not sure where they were coming and the idea is force feed a journalist. that's the way it goes. here's our story. >> guest: and ayman american. i don't do that. we don't do that. we're not supposed to do that. they were not happy. i'm not by any means the only journalist who had an experience with them. they threatened quite a few american journalists and european journalists on a regular basis it's part of their modus operandi that they will be nice to you and threaten you at the same time.
>> host: at that stage as you cross the root the westernized part of the city into the suburb of a control you write going into a foreign country as if you had a clear distinction, and even more so as you move towards the lebanese and israeli border. you were not in an area than at least the government of lebanon had any authority. >> guest: has a law has authority over these areas but the differences go way beyond has authority. any americans who would fly to beirut today and get off the plane and go downtown would be in a part of the world that they recognized because it really is a place where the east meets the west and all mixes together. so, you will see fragments of the western civilization mixing
in with the east and starbucks and things and you will see women who dress like french and italian women rather than the head scarf or fail, and so i mean most americans feel pretty comfortable. i shall immediately very comfortable there and when you go to the suburbs south of the city which are controlled by hezbollah, all of this disappears. the level of economic development plunges. they're certainly aren't any starbucks or things like this. you often see very few women dressed in a modern way almost all of them are dressed very conservatively with either head scarves or it covers them from the top of their head to the bottom of their feet with their face showing. there's a lot of women like this. you won't see the lebanese flag
in it with the territory instead to see the hezbollah flag with its ak-47 assault rifle logo, and occasionally inside the high iranian flag but never the lebanese flag and there are posters on the wall and hanging from lampposts showing the faces of a dead young men who were killed in battle with israel, and they are all over the place. >> host: it's a country where this extraordinary mix of religious faith, political ideologies is it seems in a constant state of adjustment and accommodation. the news i have had recently is that in that suburb the lebanese government is now able to have
some investment in schools and roads and health clinics. is it may be hezbollah is running short on money and they aren't seeing as generous as they expected? it sounds like the beginning of a lebanese process assimilating new challenges and they would like to describe themselves as a mosaic. mosaics are different colors, different sized pieces but for some reason they stick together. how do you see it? >> guest: i don't know if it's true that the lebanese government is being allowed now by hezbollah in health care and education and this sort of thing in the areas they control because up until now hezbollah wouldn't permit the government to do this because it wanted the
people who live in these neighborhoods to be entirely loyal to the party rather than the government which is pluralistic and has multiple parties, multiple concessions, multiple ideologies, they wanted to keep their part of the country basically out of the mosaic and keep it sealed off from the rest of the country. so, you've got a situation where there's a lot of poor people in the areas they control that vote for and support hezbollah not necessarily work exclusively because hezbollah picks a fight once malae with the israelis but because they pay for your children's school and if you get sick you go to a hezbollah hospital and it won't cost any money and they take care of you so they have a cradle to grave kind of system that kept everyone in their territory away from all the other civic
infrastructure that the lebanese news and share and interact with each other. >> host: you were there when hezbollah did some kidnapping of israeli soldiers and israel in 2006 the year after that assassination brought to their brought the roof down and it wasn't just the military targets in the south with, they took out bridges in the north of lebanon and they laid the official buildings controlled by hizbollah's leadership flat in southern beirut. didn't that cost them something? hezbollah in terms of the lebanese public? >> guest: the lebanese public was very angry at the israelis
for hitting infrastructure throughout the country rather against the hezbollah area. they did this because hezbollah kidnapped their soldiers and the israelis didn't want them to take the soldiers out of lebanon through the airport or over the planned order where the soldiers could not be rescued but the huge consequence to israel hitting is everybody in lebanon is furious and feels like israel is attacking all of lebanon because in the first day or so after the war there were a lot of the lebanese people in beirut who were not upset but were striking back. the figure hezbollah started it and deserved it and these lebanese people didn't like hezbollah anyway, so they were not going to shed many tears but then the israelis likened it and the in entire country was furious. at the same time, they were just as furious at hezbollah for starting it and they bet their
tongue for the most part during of the war because they felt some saw the devotee while israel was dropping bombs on everybody but the minute israel stopped bombing lebanon, everyone i know in lebanon who was already a post to hezbollah was much, much more so and there was a lot of talk that time in the christian and sunni communities that the disgruntled people might start reconstituting their militia but this is what people are saying this is how angry they were that they might start rearming and moving on their own. they didn't do it but this is how they felt. >> guest: >> host: did you get the impression they were moving
through to the leaders? >> guest: to an extent in 2008 when they invaded west beirut and the whole western half of the city fell in a day and a half and hezbollah showed not only does it have the power to launch rockets in israel, they don't scare the lebanese because the missiles are aimed at israel only. they aren't going to fight your missiles in its own country because they wouldn't be named, they would fire them at random but they have a real tactical skill on the street with an ak-47 much more so than anybody might resist them and successfully intimidations all of hezbollah's internal political opponents to basically surrender and say okay you guys can do whatever you want, just
stop. >> host: do you think they have persuaded any broad section in 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 was more powerful than hezbollah and hezbollah cannot stop an israeli invasion but there are people who believe that the lebanese army won't do anything well they are right they won't do anything and hezbollah is to act as a deterrent to keep the israelites from invading. there are many who believe this and what his blood really is is a magnet that draws the israelis and. they would have no reason to invade lebanon if there was no threat inside with want to read the didn't exist the border would be quiet and that would be that. but many people don't see it that way also some of them do
and they argue about this among themselves. >> host: so it's an argument still in process. >> guest: hezbollah is useful to the syrians for a couple of reasons. one, the syrian government is iran's ally and hezbollah is your done's project so serial will help for that reason but what they get out of it is two things. the government in damascus gets credit for championing the resistance against israel sponsoring hezbollah. so it doesn't have to take any punishment when israel responds
because hezbollah exists on lebanon rather than israel gets bombed, so basically gets to have its cake and eat too so hezbollah is also as is proven vividly in 2008 useful against the lebanese government because it's very difficult, lebanon is all but on different and that's been for decades but hezbollah is powerful enough if the lebanese government does what hezbollah, syria or iran doesn't want hezbollah can run over everybody else and take the capitol and take turns so hezbollah is useful against jerusalem simultaneously. >> host: what degrees could syria control hezbollah? again, going back in time to the 80's when there were troubles
some border areas and as the instigator we could go to damascus and say this could get out of hand and he would never say i will do something about it and the trouble never stopped. that happened many times do you think meshaal could do that today? >> guest: i think they have less authority over hezbollah than their father did. the pyrenean government has more i think that iran could do it if they were to get order to either do or stop doing something that would happen at once. if syria were to do it today that would probably also be effective unless the syrian and iranian government were at odds
with each other but they disagree with the policy is going to be to the armenian government what i think when that argument. >> but it's a very murky. i mean, there are charts so to speak that it's not obvious so it's hard to say. >> host: the connection with lebanon is an interesting one, by marriage, by commerce, by history if he were born in beirut in the 1920's, you were born according to your identification documents in beirut and syria. the syrian role which they have spoken of so often and i am sure you heard that we are the real leaders in this part of the arab world because we have been the leaders of resistance to israel expansion and threats to arab
nationalism in the beginning of. so there's a lot of pride there because a lot of other recognize it as the great leader. it's an outspoken strength for the regime. should americans care about lebanese politics? >> guest: the reason is lebanon for a long time has been one of the places where the middle east flights its war and it is a place that controls in a foreign power whether they want to be drawn in or not, and because iran controls hezbollah and hezbollah controls the lebanese side of the border with the border has become basically
at the front line in the arab-israeli conflict the front line in the iranian conflict and the line where iran confronts the west in general to consider israel to be a lesser country which i do and i think we should, and a big enough war involving israel, lebanon, syria and iran could easily draw the united states and whether we like it or not come and that lebanese and israeli border will be the epicenter if a region of war involving the country's breaks out. but we care very much about what goes on there because we may end up getting sucked into it. we have in the past. >> host: yeah, we have, and they are reluctant to invite outsiders in to serve their particular community. >> guest: a lot of the parties would love to have us show up
right now. >> host: not just the u.s., the west. >> guest: a lot of sunnis would be happy with it, too. i think it would be a terrible idea what a chunk of lebanon would welcome it today. >> host: after the first war our representatives in the area turned down a request to take over the mandate and the league of nations for lebanon and syria. thank god we didn't get sucked into that one. you're right. the pressure to come in has been what's the prospect of hezbollah integrated into the lebanese political system? they are in the parliament in the system. >> guest: it's inevitable that hezbollah isn't going to be
internally for all-time be an irony and militia. it will eventually have to be integrated because lebanon cannot be divided into more than one state. it's too small, and the shia population which is the support base is fragmented into three different pieces. in the suburbs south of the route which is in the middle of the country, and the southern but part of the country along the border that is where the sg of live in three little isolated and you can't carve them out and give them their own borders. it's not possible. eventually they are going to have to reconcile with their countrymen and join the political mainstream, but i don't think that it's likely to happen and so 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 what hezbollah is willing to accept help from outside, and nobody has any reason to break some of these relationships. >> host: well, we are talking today of the arabs bring still in full blossom. it hasn't reached beirut. there's been no revolt against the government because one there is no government to revolt against to the primm minister syria is under considerable pressures that organize as they were in cairo as before but the outcome and syria is unclear.
it to not get away from the theme of your book the past prologue what might this major revolution in 60 years in that region bring to lebanon and hezbollah if the syrian government falls to nisha and egypt will be earthquake throughout the region because it is critical for the existence in lebanon for iran farming and equipping the crucial link in the logistics case the full-year into israel the land border between syria if there's a new government and syria been
hezbollah is going to have a very serious problem and the government will have almost no leverage et all because syria has this intricate web of bullied officials in lebanon that it uses to maintain its bearer and all of those relationships will dissolve at once and some deals rising to power in damascus would have to start from the zeros and might not even be interested to dominate lebanon in the first place. so, this will be very bad for hezbollah and very bad for iran, but i don't have expect to see this in syria any time soon. unlike qaddafi and libya it is willing to shoot as many people as he thinks he has to.
his father killed 10,000 in 1982 during an uprising and a pretty remembers this. how could they forget. 20 to 40,000 people killed in 1982 they still remember it and sometimes still talk about that and nobody is going to go in and stop the syrian government from massacring its citizens. gaddafi is an easy target, low hanging fruit. he doesn't have any friends in the world were going to rise to his rescue. the syrian government has hezbollah and lebanon and the islamic republic regime in iran and nobody in the west wants to do anything to stop him to ignite a regional war. so he is basically aside from getting sanctioned, he's going to be allowed to do whatever he
wants and no one will stop him and i don't see any reason why he wouldn't kill 20,000 people and eventually the uprising and syria will probably ife and i think. i hope i'm wrong. i would love to be wrong. >> host: i don't think anybody knows how it's going to come out. the challenge from the muslim brotherhood in those days they felt was a serious one and they watched their air force blown up and launched a grenade at the president and it was a lot of grumbling but then he ordered that to be used against the city has many, doesn't, 15, 24,000 died of the and that memory has not died.
but it wouldn't lead necessarily to a cut off of relations of a wide variety with lebanon, syria will continue to be a player. every intelligent service in the world has been presented in the root and syria certainly has been a dominant one for many years in the ties in the family and business are strong and they are not going to be dissolved by a change of regimes so they will still have a role to play god willing to be responsible one the we will see the area itself, the region as a whole start to move towards a general peace. do you think hezbollah can survive a general peace?
>> guest: hezbollah would survive -- >> guest: >> host: a general peace agreement. >> guest: dewitt resist a general peace agreement its hard to say if there is a new syrian government to find a peace treaty with israel and therefore either internally or explicitly gave the government the option of signing the peace treaty with israel hezbollah would probably do anything it could to make that he's not a viable, but it would also have serious difficulties 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 believe the leading the chiefs the israelis from invading is the deterrence that has the law creates, but if israel assigns with the government, then it's
going to be more difficult to convince the lebanese people that it's necessary to keep them out but the israelis are proving fit the have no design. hezbollah will do whatever it can to prevent this from ever happening because it will seriously hurt the organization and they know at. >> host: how monolithic is it as an organization today? >> guest: there are like any organization ideological hard-liners and the supporters are even less monolithic than the organization itself because some lebanese support because they've really drunk the coup leader about radical islam and jihadists. other support hezbollah because it pays for schools and
hospitals and other support hezbollah because it brings power and dignity to the shia community that has been marginalized economically and politically for hundreds of years. and i have met many of these people who have no interest whatsoever living in an irony in the style state and no interest whatsoever in the war with israel and yet the support hezbollah and hezbollah knows the diverse support. and has to try as hard as it can to meet all these people have been at the same time which is very difficult to do and is eventually i think coming to be impossible for them to do. it's just a matter of time before all these contradictions and something different happens. >> host: and they have to contend with the weight of history and there's been pretty
tense times. the idea of an irony iranians society taking root in the arab world as hard to see. if it works out for instance in iraq i guess that story isn't foley told, but they will end up as more arab state and non-matteo craddock despite iran has been providing to the elements in that government in that community. so lebanon might reassert itself once again as it has a history to accommodate the new challenges. you can see that. >> guest: in the long run i'd think it will be okay. >> host: why would you go back? >> guest: i would like to go back this summer, but it's so
quiet, there's nothing really happening. i mean, i am a journalist after all. the summer would be a great time, but there's nothing. so i will wait for it to start bubbling a little bit before going back. but i love beirut. it's one of the wonderful cities in the world and you have been there of course. i don't know a single american who has been there who didn't fall in love and i know how crazy that sounds to the people who've never been there to imagine the root to be dysfunctional, violent like baghdad, and baghdad really is like that. i've been there many times but they refuse to be called in the middle east which is a bit of an exaggeration. it's not paris it is a version of paris with a lot of blown up buildings in it that have been barely catch up again, but also a section of the city that is incredibly beautiful, and i've never been anywhere that has so
much vibrancy as the root. never, no where in the world. beirut have to say. >> host: i'm not sure i want to see lebanon states great interest because more separate tooby to make a story, but there is a hope in the area that they will find an arrangement to bring hezbollah in and iran will be seen as influence of a certain part of the lebanese community but it's not going to be running. i hope to get to syria and try to see the picture from that side as well.
but you have written a very vivid account of what it means to live and survive in terrific violence and almost mindless hostilities towards each other, just go ahead and shoot, and somehow that will bring u.s. side. did you feel that? >> lebanon is a dark tragic place and there are unfortunately a large number of people who think they're going to make their lives better by shooting at their neighbors. it doesn't work correctly. it never does. the civil war law for 15 years. it's hard to keep track of all the different factions even though i've been going to lebanon for years and have
written a book about the place like world war i and nobody wanted to beat nobody accomplished much of anything. the ex-president of the great quote about this i can quote him precisely but it's something that he said everybody is against everyone and we keep going around and around in circles about anything being accomplished and nobody winning. and i think most lebanese people what this point have internalized this and realized that's what this. when everybody in the country internalizes this lesson i think is what the country will be okay. but it's not quite there yet unfortunately. >> host: you suggest that lebanon couldn't survive in the sea of autocracy with the neighbors that it has. do you feel that still?
>> guest: it cannot survive in a space country surrounded by hostile dictatorship, not when there are a certain percentage of population is inside the country willing to work with those foreign dictatorships. the country can't hold up against that kind of pressure unfortunately. >> host: you're asking for a lot of changes. thanks so much. appreciate the exchange. and good luck on the book sales. >> guest: thank you. >> that was "after words" come booktv's signature program in which authors of the latest nonfiction books are interviewed by journalists, public policy makers, legislators and others familiar with the material. "after words" airs every weekend of booktv at 10 p.m. on saturday, 12 p.m. and 9 p.m. on sunday and 12 a.m. on monday. you can also watch "after words" on line, go to booktvorg and
click on the "after words" in the book tv series and topics list on the upper right side of the page. >> i am a very hopeful person, and repentant idealist and i've come to understand hopefulness and idealism of strength as blessings and this is a gesture of gratitude to some of the people who have given me those gift of hopefulness and idealism, the teachers who gave me a reason to believe in a brighter future, the family and strangers who gave me a reason to believe in the power of kindness, the church ladies on the south side of chicago who gave me a reason to believe in the absence of faith, the voters for that matter who's given me a reason to believe in the politics of conviction, and many others. a friend of mine described this book recently as a love story which for me was the most powerful complement i could be given.
i wanted to write about these people and the lessons they taught me for two reasons. first, because they have done more than help me succeed. they've helped me to want to be better, to be a better leader come a better husband and parent, better citizen. and second because it is within each of us to pass these kind of lessons on to others and in fact i think we have a generational responsibility to do just that. as some of tuna was alluding in the introduction of a group in the south side chicago in the 50's and 60's most of that time on welfare my mother and sister and i shared a two-bedroom tenement with our grandparents at various cousins who came and went you could go from the top bunk to the bottom bunk on the floor every third night on the floor. and sometimes violent public schools, but we had a community
every child was under the jurisdiction of every single level on the block. he messed up in front of ms. jones and she would straighten you out and then call home. they had a stake in us. and the membership in the community was understanding the state each of us has not just hour own dreams and our own struggles but our neighbors as well be given the expectations much of society has for poor black people in circumstances of like mind, i am not supposed to be where i am today. my story is an improbable but at the same time a distinctly american story and may not get told as often as we like in this country to dig its told more often this country than any other place on earth is a defining story. in 1970i got a brick through a program called the better chance to go to the milton academy.
for me it was like landing on a different planet. the night before classes began in 1970 all by myself my family didn't see it until graduation day. i remember they had a dress code in those days they were jackets and ties so when the closing arrived my grandparents splurged on the jacket for me to wear to class project on the south side of chicago is a windbreaker so the first day of class all the other boys are putting on their blue blazers and tweed coats and their ally with my windbreaker and i want to point out that i figured it out. i struggled to find my footing but again there were teachers and other adults who reached out and helped. i went on to harvard college, the first and my family to go to college to harvard law school. i lived in chicago and boston and los angeles and new york, here in d.c., atlanta, sudan. i've done business all over the
world. i've had some remarkable experiences, and probable ones in the eyes of many. i've argued in the supreme court, hitchhiked from cairo to khartoum and i've served as the first black governor of massachusetts on my first time running for office but as i reflect on these experiences, each has its roots in the lessons i try to write about in this book, these lessons have given me a sense of the possible and that has made all the difference. i write in the book about the transition from the south side of chicago to the milton academy about the experience of trying to bridge these different worlds where each one seems to demand that you reject the other as the price of acceptance into one and how important it was for me to understand ultimately that there was a false choice. i write about the way the old ladies and big hats in church back home taught me to see that faith is not so much what you
say you believe that how you live. i write about the extraordinary courage and strength of my wife dhaka and through her first marriage to an abusive husband and the toll of my earlier days in public office and how her trials strength and not just me but thousands of others. time and time again experience of great trial and turmoil have produced transcendent positives, and they've contributed to my idealism. i wanted to defend and encourage that kind of idealism because i think it is what motivates people to make what seems an improbable possible. that may sound corny to some of you especially in hard in washington, d.c.. but in fact, there is nothing at all corny about hope, and there's nothing at all in powering or ennobling about the