Lawrence Freedman
Professor/Vice Principal, Kings College

America and the Middle East

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Lawrence Freedman discusses the background for his new book, A Choice of Enemies: America Confronts the Middle East.

Lawrence Freedman

Lawrence Freedman has been Professor of War Studies at King's College, London since 1982. He was appointed Vice-Principal at King's in 2003. He was educated at Whitley Bay Grammar School and the Universities of Manchester, York and Oxford. Before joining King's he held research appointments at Nuffield College Oxford, IISS and the Royal Institute of International Affairs. Elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1995 and awarded the CBE in 1996, he was appointed Official Historian of the Falklands Campaign in 1997.
Professor Freedman has written extensively on nuclear strategy and the cold war, as well as commentating regularly on contemporary security issues. His books include an Adelphi Paper on The Revolution in Strategic Affairs, an edited book on Strategic Coercion, an illustrated book on The Cold War, a collection of essays on British defence policy and Kennedy's Wars that covers the major crises of the early 1960s over Berlin, Cuba and Vietnam. In addition a book on deterrence was published in 2004 and the Official History of the Falklands Campaign was published in the summer of 2005.  His most recent book, A Choice of Enemies: America confronts the Middle East, was published in 2008.


Lawrence Freedman: Well, it’s a subject I’ve been interested in for a long time. What inspired me was a conversation with my daughter during the summer of 2006 when the war with Lebanon was going on with Israel, and I started trying to explain it. We realized it wasn’t- first, there wasn’t a simple explanation of what was going on. It wasn’t just about Israel and Lebanon, or Hezbollah, it was relevant to Syria, how was it relevant to what was going on with Iran and its nuclear program? Did it fit in at all with events in Iraq? So it seemed to me that there was a need to talk about issues from that part of the world in a connected way. I’d been wanting to write something that dealt with contemporary conflicts, the history, for some time. But I hadn’t decided to focus particularly on the Middle East. Because I’m not particularly a Middle-Eastern specialist, as such, I decided the way to do it was through the United States, because though a Brit, I have always been interested in American politics and written quite a bit about American politics before. So that was why it sort of took the form it did.

Recorded on 5/19/08