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