Alan Dershowitz
Professor, Harvard Law School
02:48

What is your outlook?

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Things would look a lot rosier if people with big ideas went into politics.

Alan Dershowitz

Alan Dershowitz is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at the Harvard Law School. In addition to his teaching, Dershowitz is a prolific author who makes frequent media and public appearances, and who is known for his commentary on the Arab-Israeli conflict as well as his work on numerous high-profile cases. As a criminal appellate lawyer, Dershowitz successfully argued to overturn the conviction of Claus von Bulow for the attempted murder of his wife, Sunny. He also served as the appellate advisor in the criminal trial of O.J. Simpson.

Dershowitz joined the faculty of Harvard Law School as an assistant professor of law in 1964. He was made a full professor of law in 1967, at the age of 28, becoming, at that time, Harvard's youngest full law professor in the school's history. Dershowitz is also the author of more than 20 works of fiction and non-fiction, including Blasphemy: How the Religious Right is Hijacking the Declaration of Independence (2007), The Case for Israel (2003), the bestseller Chutzpah (1991), and Reversal of Fortune (1986), which was made into an Academy Award-winning film. More than a million of his books have been sold worldwide and in numerous languages.

Dershowitz joined the faculty of Harvard Law School as an assistant professor of law in 1964. He was made a full professor of law in 1967, at the age of 28, becoming, at that time, Harvard's youngest full law professor in the school's history. Dershowitz is also the author of more than 20 works of fiction and non-fiction, including Blasphemy: How the Religious Right is Hijacking the Declaration of Independence (2007), The Case for Israel (2003), the bestseller Chutzpah (1991), and Reversal of Fortune (1986), which was made into an Academy Award-winning film. More than a million of his books have been sold worldwide and in numerous languages.

Transcript

Question: What is your outlook? 

Alan Dershowitz: I’m moderately optimistic because I think we have the ability to confront these issues.

Right now [June 2007], the world suffers from an incredible lack of creative leadership. I’m not talking only about the United States. I’m talking about Israel. I’m talking about the Palestinians. I’m talking about much of Western Europe. I’m talking about many religious leaders. This is not a time of great leadership. One does not see the [Winston] Churchills and the Roosevelts and the great leaders emerging.

I think one sees bureaucrats and charming people. It’s the price one pays for democracy gone amuck, with the media creating candidates and demanding of candidates that they be intelligenic.

I don’t know how Winston Churchill would do in an election today. He didn’t do so well in his own election after the Second World War.

We need great leadership. I think we’re seeing great leadership today in the business world. Innovations are just phenomenal. People like Bill Gates who are out there helping solve the world’s problems, and at the same time innovating.

I wish we would see better leadership in the political world. I think today the most innovative people do not go into politics, and that’s a tragedy. I wish people with big ideas would go into politics.

This is a transitional age. We don’t know whether or not we’ll be able to survive these new threats of mega-terrorism by people who don’t care whether they live or die. I suspect we will see some acts of massive terrorism.

And the question is, can we strike the appropriate balance? Can we do whatever we can do to stop terrorism – it won’t be perfect and there will be terrorism; don’t expect 100 percent – while at the same time not diminishing civil liberties? There will be some diminishing in civil liberties. There’ll be some terrorism. But how to strike that appropriate balance? How to get maximum preventive action against mega-terrorism with minimum compromise on civil liberties and human rights is one of the great challenges we face.

 

Recorded On: June 12, 07


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