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Terrorism's Safe Harbors

Professor Daniel Byman talks about new book, Deadly Connections: States That Sponsor Terrorism. He explores the symbiotic relationship between terrorist organizations and their state sponsors. Byman is associate professor in Georgetown University's Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service and director of Georgetown's Security Studies Program and Center for Peace and Security Studies.


Other segments from the episode on July 26, 2006

Fresh Air with Terry Gross, July 26, 2006: Interview with Daniel Byman; Review of Arturo Toscanini’s live Symphony telecasts.


TIME 12:00 Noon-1:00 PM AUDIENCE N/A

Interview: Author Daniel Byman discusses the war between Israel
and Hezbollah in Lebanon and the relationship between terrorist
groups and the states that support them

This is FRESH AIR. I'm Terry Gross.

The relationship between Hezbollah and Iran is perhaps the strongest and most
effective relationship in history between a state sponsor and a terrorist
group, writes my guest Daniel Byman. Byman is the author of the book "Deadly
Connections: States That Sponsor Terrorism." We invited him to talk with us
about Hezbollah's connections to Iran and Syria. Byman is the director of the
Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University and is a
nonresident fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings
Institution. He's also served as a professional staff member with the 9/11

Daniel Byman, welcome to FRESH AIR. Let's look at the relationship between
Hezbollah and Iran. How did Iran help to create Hezbollah?

Mr. DANIEL BYMAN (Author, "Deadly Connections: States That Sponsor
Terrorism"): Hezbollah was a creation of three different forces. The first
was the steady emergence of the Shia Muslim community in Lebanon in the 1970s,
almost akin to a civil rights movement of a community that was weak and
disenfranchised and steadily grew in power. But the second two events were
the Iranian revolution in 1979 and the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982.
These two went hand in hand. Iran's revolution dramatically showed the Shia
of Lebanon that religion could be a powerful force for organizing and that
violence could be very effective in gaining power. When Israel invaded
Lebanon and there was a subsequent reaction from the Shia community against
the Israeli-backed government, Iran was there in Lebanon mobilizing, training,
organizing Shia and eventually created Hezbollah as a movement to go after
both Israel and at the time Western peacekeeping forces that were present in

GROSS: When you say Iran created Hezbollah, what did Iran do to create it?

Mr. BYMAN: There were several groups in Lebanon that were active
politically, fighting the Israeli-backed government and representing the Shia.
What Iran did was brought these groups together, and it brought them together
not only in a organizational sense, putting them under one framework, but also
ideologically. It imbued them with the ideas of the Iranian revolution, that
religious and political power should be together and that religious leaders
should be in charge of an organization, and Iran did this with money and it
did this with training and it did this through indoctrination. So it took a
very disparate, disorganized movement and made it extremely well-unified and
effective over time.

GROSS: What kind of funding are we talking about?

Mr. BYMAN: The precise figures are really unknown. Experts usually use
figures of around $100 million a year, which by Lebanese standards is huge.
It enabled Hezbollah not only to outpace its rivals by being able to offer its
fighters and their families more money but also to help create a large social
network, hospitals, schools and so on, that it could aid the poor of Lebanon
and gain prestige and influence that way as well.

GROSS: Now did Iran work with Syria in creating Hezbollah?

Mr. BYMAN: Syria in the 1980s was the strongest outside power in Lebanon.
The country was in civil war with a lot of interference going on, but Syria
was always strong. And Iran and Syria both opposed Israel and they both
opposed the United States. And together they created Hezbollah with Iran
taking the lead, but because Syria had the dominant position on the ground,
almost every important decision was vetted by Damascus, as well as by Tehran.

GROSS: And did Syria also help in arming Hezbollah?

Mr. BYMAN: The arms largely seem to be Iranian arms, but they usually went
through Syria. They were tran--shipped through the Damascus airport and,
again, since Syria exercised so much control within Lebanon, especially in the
1990s, while it did not arm Hezbollah directly, Hezbollah could not have been
armed without Syrian support.

GROSS: You describe Syria when we were talking a little earlier as having
been Hezbollah's landlord for a long time.

Mr. BYMAN: That's correct. Syria, until last year, really controlled
Lebanon. The Lebanese government was really at most a puppet government where
Syria pulled the strings. The seed to revolution last year, however, led to
the ousting of Syrian forces from Lebanon. And while it didn't destroy or end
Syrian influence by any means, it dramatically changed the balance of power on
the ground. Hezbollah or any other group in Lebanon in the 1980s and 1990s
had to operate there with some degree of Syrian acceptance. However, with
Syrian forces leaving, Hezbollah became much more independent, more of a
partner, and indeed Syria relies heavily on Hezbollah to represent its
interests in Lebanon, rather than having the influence go the other way

GROSS: So what are the interests that Syria wants Hezbollah to represent?

Mr. BYMAN: Syria has long used Hezbollah as a way of putting pressure on
Israel. And it has done so both through guerrilla attacks on Israeli soldiers
and through terrorist action. And what Syria has implicitly told Israel and
the world is that it can put pressure on Hezbollah and make this problem be
reduced or go away or it can allow Hezbollah greater rein and makes a problem
worse. And, as a result, Israel and the world have to deal with Damascus if
they want this problem solved. But since Syria left Lebanon in terms of armed
forces in 2005, Hezbollah has played an even greater role, representing Syrian
interests in Lebanon. The Lebanese government is largely opposed to Syria and
wants a reduced Syrian role in the country. However, because Hezbollah's so
strong and powerful, they are part of the government as well, so you have a
split government, some of which is actually pro-Syrian. Moreover, Hezbollah
has the strongest militia in the country and has the greatest political
support and a large social organization. So having it in Syria's corner is a
huge advantage for Syria over the various powers in Lebanon that oppose

GROSS: Let's get back to Iran. When Iran created Hezbollah, what did it want
from Hezbollah?

Mr. BYMAN: When Iran created Hezbollah in the early 1980s, it had two
primary goals. The first was ideological. When Hezbollah was first created,
Iran was committed to spreading its vision of revolution around the world.
And Hezbollah was perhaps its greatest success. This was an organization that
was over time incredibly influential and was propagating the Iranian ideal.
It supported the merging of religious and political authority, and in the
1980s, Hezbollah officials were openly loyal to Ayatollah Khomeini, the
supreme leader of Iran. So this was a movement that was cut from Iranian
cloth completely. But over time, this relationship changed. Over time,
Hezbollah's strategic importance grew. Iran was able to exert influence in
Lebanon and also against Israel because of its relationship with Hezbollah.
What was particularly important was the ability to disrupt the peace process.
Iran is opposed to the peace process on ideological ground but also on
practical ground. Iran recognizes that a successful peace process would lead
to its own isolation in the region, that this would be one fewer issue and an
issue of such emotional importance that Iran wouldn't be able to mobilize.
And if the United States were able to take this away, it would be able to more
effectively shut out Tehran from regional councils.

GROSS: Hezbollah is an Islamist group, and initially they wanted to set up an
Islamic state in Lebanon. I think they've at least temporarily abandoned that
goal in recognition of the fact that they have a political party now in a very
complex ethnic and religious country where there's many different groups
represented in the parliament. So are they still Islamist in the model of

Mr. BYMAN: Hezbollah is Islamist in its ultimate ambitions but has become
far more pragmatic in the last 15 years. The organization recognizes that its
vision of an ideal government in Lebanon is a minority vision, that it would
not be accepted not only by Lebanese Christians but also by many Lebanese
Muslims, particularly Sunnis, but also many Shia. And thus its ideological
ambitions are quite distant. It wants to have an Islamic government in
Lebanon, but in its own rhetoric, it's willing to wait decades or generations
even, and that's quite different from the more immediate model of Iran which
sought to use control of the government to enforce an Islamic ideology on its
own people.

GROSS: Is one of the things Iran gets out of its relationship with Hezbollah
deniability, because it can back Hezbollah in fighting Israel without being
directly implicated in it. So, in that sense, it's protected against military

Mr. BYMAN: One of the ironies of international politics today is that states
can work with known terrorists groups like Hezbollah or others and evade many
of the consequences of their actions. And Iran has done this incredibly
effectively with Hezbollah. It increasingly uses Hezbollah as a surrogate to
work for Palestinian groups, and in general, it has used Hezbollah to attack
its own dissidents in Europe, for example. So Hezbollah is fully integrated
with regard to Iran's foreign policy, yet the fact that it is a Lebanese
organization, has allowed Iran to evade many of the consequences of its
actions and had it used its own military forces or intelligence forces, things
couldn't have been much worse for Iran. So, painfully, this is actually a
successful policy. States can use terrorist groups to evade the consequences
of their actions or what should be the consequences.

GROSS: My guest is Daniel Byman, the author of "Deadly Connections: States
That Sponsor Terrorism."

We'll talk more after a break. This is FRESH AIR.


GROSS: If you're just joining us, my guest is Daniel Byman. He's the author
of the book, "Deadly Connections: States That Sponsor Terrorism." And we're
talking about the connection between Hezbollah and Iran and Syria.

Now the way you describe it in your book, Hezbollah has also been a real image
booster in a way for Syria. Back when Bashar Assad's father was the head of
state in Syria. Hafez Assad--as you point out, he had gunned down thousands
of revolutionary Islamists in the '70s and early '80s. He was trying to
prevent an Islamic revolution inside Syria. But by backing Hezbollah, do they
look like, you know, Islamic revolutionaries, even though they're not?

Mr. BYMAN: Backing Hezbollah has increased the street credibility of Syria
and Iran and anyone else who has associated themselves with the organization.
Hezbollah is the only Arab organization that has defeated Israel by force of
arms. And by expelling Israel from Lebanon militarily, it has enormous
credibility. I mean, this crosses Shia-Sunni lines, and, in fact, crosses
Arab lines. It's an organization widely respected in the Muslim world. And
Iran has gained from its patronage, and so too has Syria. And while this was
important for Hafez Assad, the father of the current president who was
ruthless against his own Islamist revolution, it's even more important for his
son. His son lacks the credibility in opposing Israel that his father had.
And the son also is seen as inexperienced and lacking the respect of many
people in Syria. So he has associated himself with Hezbollah and its leader
Hassan Nasrallah as a way of boosting his own image. And many people
speculate that while the relationship used to be that Syria dominated
Hezbollah, its increasingly the other way around, where Hezbollah has more
stature and more influence over Syria. I think that's overstating the case to
some degree, but it does show that the relationship is becoming more and more
of a partnership, rather than a state and its terrorist proxy.

GROSS: And that means that Hezbollah's becoming more and more powerful, yes?

Mr. BYMAN: Absolutely. Hezbollah is becoming more powerful politically, and
in particular in Lebanon, it has increased freedom of action. There's no
other party on the ground that can effectively oppose it. And, as a result,
while it can't dictate politics in Lebanon, it can block actions it doesn't

GROSS: And while we're on the subject, why has the Lebanese government been
unable to disarm Hezbollah?

Mr. BYMAN: The Lebanese government is a patchwork of different groups, and
the Lebanese armed forces are even more so a patchwork. Although, they
outnumber Hezbollah on paper, many of those people would not fight, and in
particular, they would not fight against Hezbollah. Perhaps half the soldiers
are Shia who admire Hezbollah. Many are probably Hezbollah members or
identify with the organization secretly. And while Hezbollah is relatively
small in terms of its active cadre, it has huge public support, and its active
fighters are quite good. The Lebanese military, in contrast, the fighters are
not very good and not very motivated. So it is unlikely that the Lebanese
government could crack down on Hezbollah and even more unlikely that they
would do so.

GROSS: Could Syria or Iran effectively crack down on Hezbollah and rein it
in, if they wanted to?

Mr. BYMAN: Iran could rein Hezbollah in, but not crack down on it. Its
leaders have a tremendous number of ties to Hezbollah, not only financially
but also personally. Many of the leaders studied together, and Hezbollah's
ties to the Iranian leadership cadre are immense. So Iran simply saying, `As
a friend, as a patron, please stop this,' Hezbollah will listen. Syria, the
influence is a little different. In Syria, there are not the personal ties
that run throughout the Syrian leadership. On the other hand, Syria still is
the strongest outside power influencing Lebanon. It has ties not only to
Hezbollah but to a range of other groups, and it might even be able to create
splits within Hezbollah by cracking down on some parts of it or pushing
others. So if Syria decided to go after Hezbollah whole hog, it would be hard
because it no longer has military forces there. But it could still create
immense problems for the organization. And Hezbollah historically has tried
to work with both Iran and Syria and, on all important missions, has gotten
their blessing for it. So if these countries say to Hezbollah, `Stop doing
this,' Hezbollah would probably listen.

GROSS: Is Iran or Syria afraid of Hezbollah becoming a little too powerful?

Mr. BYMAN: Iran probably is not afraid of Hezbollah becoming too powerful.
Syria is a different matter. Syria wants to be the strongest power in
Lebanon, and while Hezbollah is representing Syrian interests, Syria
recognizes that a Hezbollah that was too strong, that did not have to listen
to Syria, could over time prove a threat. And Syria would be more likely to
try to weaken the organization or at least clip its wings a bit.

GROSS: In your book, "Deadly Connections: States That Sponsor Terrorism,"
you quote Michael Doran, a Middle East expert who's now in the Bush
administration, as having said that "In the Middle East, Syria has played the
game of being both the arsonist and the fire department." Would you translate
that for us?

Mr. BYMAN: Sure. That's a quote I love. What Syria has done so well in the
last 20 years is that it has supported groups like Hamas, Palestine Islamist
Jihad and especially Hezbollah by giving them headquarters, military and
financial support, and other forms of assistance, and at times approved their
attacks on Israel or other targets. At the same time, it said to the United
States, to Israel, to other countries, `If you want these attacks to stop,
come to us. We have the power to influence these groups, and we can crack
down on them.' So it has potentially helped create the problem and then try to
benefit from solving the problem.

GROSS: Do you see that as coming into play in the current war between Israel
and Hezbollah?

Mr. BYMAN: That may have come into play. Syria has felt neglected for quite
some time, that the United States and Israel have essentially written it off.
Israel's most recent plans for resolving the conflict from its eyes, which
largely include withdrawing from main Palestinian areas and then building a
big fence, have effectively left Syria out of the picture. They've said
frankly that Syria doesn't matter for Israel's future. Israel can live
without a deal with Bashar's government. So wratching up the pressure, in
particular to Hezbollah, is a way of putting Syria back on the map. And you
are seeing this. President Bush's recent statement that was captured
unwittingly in the microphone where he effectively said the problem lies with
Syria, captured an essential truth, that Syria is one of the keys to this
solution, and Syria has put itself back on the diplomatic map. It's going to
be hard to avoid dealing with Syria if you want to resolve this problem.

GROSS: Why does Syria want to be back on the diplomatic map?

Mr. BYMAN: Syria has a wide range of problems. These are--include massive
economic problems, but even more importantly, there's the regime legitimacy
problem. The regime is in trouble after having been forced to withdraw from
international pressure from Lebanon last year, and Bashar's regime doesn't
have the credibility his father has in the country. And, politically, there's
a lot of stagnation. At the same time, diplomatically, it's made no progress.
Efforts to regain Golan Heights or other goals have actually failed
completely, and the regime is perhaps more isolated than ever. So it needs to
be back in the international community's not exactly good graces, but no
longer the pariah it is.

One thing that's worth pointing out is that while Syrian support for terrorism
did lead Israel to go to the negotiating table in the 1990s with Syria and got
Israel and Syria painfully close to a peace deal, in the end, Syrian support
for terrorism proved the deal's undoing. What happened with Syria is that by
supporting various terrorist groups, it sewed distrust among the Israeli
leaders and the public. So there was tremendous reluctance on the Israel side
to ratify its support in agreement with Syria because Syria was seen as
supporting a group of organizations that had committed mass murder in Israeli
eyes. And so while support for terrorism did push Israel to the negotiating
table, I think in the end, it also led to the failure of a deal between Israel
and Syria.

GROSS: There are many reasons why the United States is not recognizing Iran.
One of them is its support of Hezbollah. How high in the hierarchy of reasons
is Iran's support for Hezbollah?

Mr. BYMAN: Historically, Iran's support for Hezbollah has been one of the
main reasons the United States has opposed the clerical regime in Tehran and
treated it as a pariah. We will not forget that Iran and Hezbollah are
responsible for the murder of several hundred American Marines and diplomats,
and also that Hezbollah has been engaged in a widespread campaign of terror
against Israel and other targets that have been detrimental to US interests.
But in recent years, other issues have come to the fore. One is Iran's
broader opposition to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, where Iran has
supported not only Hezbollah but also Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in
particular. But there are two other issues that have relatively little to do
with terrorism. One is Iran's nuclear program. As you know, Iran has been
engaged in clandestine nuclear work for quite some time now, and many people
believe it is quite close to a workable nuclear weapon. And that is a
constant US concern. And also Iran has been active in Iraq, at times opposing
US goals there or the US presence.

What terrorism is today in many ways is emblematic of the broader problem with
Iran is that it is not committed to conducting international relations in an
accepted way. That it favors using violence, including violence against
civilians, rather than diplomacy. And while we have many other problems with
Iran beyond terrorism, that suggests a broader issue, which is this is a
regime that still pursues a revolutionary foreign policy, as well as goals
that are inimicable to US interests.

GROSS: Daniel Byman is the author of "Deadly Connections: States That
Sponsor Terrorism." He's the director of the Center for Peace and Security
Studies at Georgetown University. Byman will be back in the second half of
the show.

I'm Terry Gross, and this is FRESH AIR.


GROSS: Coming up, Lloyd Schwartz reviews a new DVD collection of telecasts
between 1948 and '52 which feature Arturo Toscanini conducting the NBC
Symphony Orchestra. And we continue our conversation with Daniel Byman about
Iran, Syria and Hezbollah.



I'm Terry Gross, back with Daniel Byman, author of the book, "Deadly
Connections: States That Sponsor Terrorism." Byman is the director of the
Center for Peace and Security Studies at Georgetown University and a
nonresident fellow at the Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings
Institution. He was a professional staff member with the 9/11 commission. We
recorded our interview late yesterday afternoon.

As we record this, Condoleezza Rice has begun her diplomatic mission. What do
you think the chances of diplomacy succeeding right now are?

Mr. BYMAN: Diplomacy may succeed. Israel, Hezbollah, Syria, Iran, all are
committed to this conflict at the time, but at the same time, all are
concerned about the repercussions. There's concern about the wider war.
Hezbollah is concerned about losing some of its support base in Lebanon, and
Israel is concerned that, in the end, it might be forced to sustain this level
of violence with no hope of achieving its objectives of reining in Hezbollah.
So diplomacy certainly has a chance. In fact, Israeli commentators have used
a line which is "It isn't over till the thin lady sings." And they're
referring to Dr. Rice with this line, that the United States and
international diplomats in general can play a tremendous role in trying to
shake this conflict and trying to reduce it over time.

GROSS: What do you see as some of the potential consequences and
opportunities right now?

Mr. BYMAN: The consequences are painful. The biggest is for Lebanon, of
course, where we've seen a decade of economic reconstruction, undone not just
in the sense of the immediate damage but also the investment climate. Lebanon
was able to convince many people around the world that this was a place to do
business in the Middle East that was again safe and secure. Recreating that
expectation will be exceptionally difficult in the years to come.

In addition to that damage, there is the broader question of the stability of
the Lebanese government. This was one of the big successes of the Bush
administration in the Middle East. You had a democratic, by regional
standards, government that was anti-Syrian, that the United States was a major
player, along with other countries, in helping nurture. And this government
is standing by helplessly as its citizens are dying and as war is raging
within its borders. And it is not able to shut down a terrorist group like
Hezbollah, it is not able to stop Israel, and helpless governments don't last.
They lose credibility with all people, and as a result, we could see the
collapse of a government we hoped would be a lasting friend of the United

GROSS: As I'm sure you know, Newt Gingrich said that this conflict is the
start of World War III. What was your reaction when he said that?

Mr. BYMAN: I have to confess, I was a little surprised by that. This is a
terrible conflict, but the number of people who have died have been in the
hundreds. And even if it escalates, we're still talking a relatively small
number of people dying compared to some of the massive conflicts around the
world, particularly in Africa. But even something like Iraq where you see
right now hundreds of Iraqi civilians dying a day from sectarian violence. In
the past we were tremendously worried about conflicts like this because the
Soviets would be on one side and the United States on the other. And there
was a fear that these sorts of conflicts would suck in Soviet advisers and
would over time escalate into a superpower conflict. There is no superpower
opposing the United States here, let alone a military power remotely as strong
as Israel. So while this conflict could escalate, there are limits to the

The bigger political danger for the United States though is that anti-Israel
and anti-American sentiment often go hand in hand. And this conflict is
increasing world hostility toward Israel, in particular Muslim hostility which
was already very high. And there's a strong sense that what Israel does, the
United States supports, even when that's not true. And as a result, this root
of conflict can increase anti-Americanism, even though the main proponents are
far from the United States and are not acting, one way or another, in support
of US interests necessarily.

GROSS: This conflict is the fourth time that Israel has had direct military
conflict with Lebanon, either with the PLO in Lebanon or with Hezbollah in
Lebanon. Looking at those conflicts, can you make any generalizations about
whether this kind of military conflict works in terms of Israel achieving its

Mr. BYMAN: This sort of conflict is an exceptionally difficult one for
militaries for several reasons. One is it's very hard to know who to fight.
The problem with guerrilla warfare is that the guerrilla or the terrorist can
simply drop his weapon and blend back into the civilian population. And
unless you have superb intelligence, it's hard to know which 10 of the 500
males in the village are actively supporting the terrorist group. And as a
result, what often happens is that you go after populations more broadly. You
do more collective punishments in the hopes that this will teach villages or
whole countries even not to support terrorist organizations. And while this
at times does work, at times it has the opposite effect.

In the past, what Israel found when it invaded Lebanon in 1982 to get rid of
the PLO was that it was welcomed as a liberator by Shia Muslims. They had had
10 years of the PLO effectively occupying their villages, extorting taxes,
really controlling their areas, and they were sick of it. They were delighted
to see Israel get rid of the PLO. And that delight lasted about a month. But
Israel stayed there for longer. And over time, Israel found that it was seen
as an occupier, and then when it tried to go after the individuals who were
attacking it, it made things worse because it'd alienate whole villages. So
this is a constant problem that guerrillas deliberately try to create which is
they try to take a small number of attacks, force the occupying power to crack
down hard on entire populations and use that crackdown as a recruiting tool.
Now this has been a constant problem that Israel has faced, which is at times
it has gone after terrorists incredibly effectively, but it hasn't been able
to solve the broader political problems that have led communities to support
terrorist organizations.

GROSS: You describe Hezbollah as the only military that has scored any
victory against Israel. What would you count as victories against Israel?

Mr. BYMAN: Hezbollah, after its creation, initially forced Israel back to a
security zone in Lebanon in 1985. And then it fought Israel long and hard for
15 years and forced Israel to leave Lebanon in 2000. There was no illusion on
the Israeli side that it was leaving victoriously from Lebanon. Israeli
politicians admitted they had been defeated, and what's interesting and
important is that Hezbollah believed it won through superior spirit. Israel,
of course, had better weapons, had better training. But in Hezbollah's eyes,
it won not just because it was able to take advantage of guerrilla warfare,
but because it was willing to sacrifice more. And this is a message it has
tried to spread through its propaganda tools, such as its satellite television
station and also when it's trained various Palestinian groups, that they need
to be willing to sacrifice, that they need to be willing to take 10 casualties
for every Israeli. And only when they're willing to do that, will they win.

GROSS: So when Condoleezza Rice says no cease-fire until Hezbollah disarms,
what are the odds of Hezbollah saying, `OK. We'll disarm and then talk about
the cease-fire'?

Mr. BYMAN: Hezbollah is not likely to disarm directly. What may happen is
that the organization would accept notional controls on its military
activities if Iran and Syria push it hard in that direction. But arms are
very important to Hezbollah. The organization sees itself not only as a
political group but also as a resistance group. And it has fiercely resisted
pressure in the past to disarm and is likely to do so again in the future.
And since there is nobody in Lebanon capable of forcing it to disarm and
there's very little international support to have an aggressive international
community troop deployment that would try to root out Hezbollah, it's unclear
who would force the organization to do so.

GROSS: Do you see the possibility of any kind of cease-fire without Hezbollah
ultimately agreeing to disarm?

Mr. BYMAN: I think that over time is possible simply because it's unclear
whether Israel, Hezbollah, the other parties are able to sustain this conflict
indefinitely. So there may be a diplomatic fig leaf that talks
about--notionally about an international presence that eventually will be in
charge of disarming Hezbollah or have some wiggle room that both Hezbollah and
the Israelis can live with. A lot will depend on political support in Lebanon
and in Israel for continuing this conflict.

GROSS: My guest is Daniel Byman, the author of "Deadly Connections: States
That Sponsor Terrorism."

We'll talk more after a break. This is FRESH AIR.


GROSS: My guest is Daniel Byman, the author of "Deadly Connections: States
That Sponsor Terrorism." Byman is the director of the Center for Peace and
Security Studies at Georgetown University.

When people talk about terrorist groups that want to attack the United States,
they always mention that until September 11th, it was Hezbollah who had taken
the most American lives. And that's largely because in the '80s, Hezbollah
attacks Marine barracks in Beirut, and there were over--there were about 215
American casualties. How much do you think the United States figures into
Hezbollah's targets right now?

Mr. BYMAN: Hezbollah has focused much more on regional targets, in
particular Israel than on the United States since US forces left Lebanon. And
part of this is a factor of Iran where in the last 10 years Iran has not
directly gone after US targets. Part of it is that Hezbollah has really tried
to maintain Lebanese support, and as such has focused on more regional issues.
But Hezbollah, because it works so closely with Iranian intelligence and
Iran's special forces, does have the capability to attack around the world.
We saw this in the 1990s when it attacked Israeli targets in Argentina. And
if Hezbollah wanted to, it probably could attack US facilities. And some
people worry that heavy US pressure on Hezbollah could lead to just that, that
the United States might actually end up being the victim of an additional
terrorist attack if it is not careful.

GROSS: After Hezbollah attacked the US Marine barracks in Beirut, the Reagan
administration pulled out the Marines, and how do you think that pullout
affected Hezbollah's view of itself and its stature?

Mr. BYMAN: Hezbollah won enormous acclaim for driving the United States out
of Lebanon. In its eyes, through dedication and a willingness to sacrifice,
it defeated the superpower. It defeated the United States. And this is
something that has been part of its ethos ever since, the view that no matter
how strong the enemy appears on paper, no matter how much weaponry it has, no
matter how big it is politically and economically, through sacrifice, it can
be defeated. And defeating Israel in Hezbollah's eyes was the same thing.
They did it by shedding their own blood and proving that they would fight to
the bitter end.

This is something that has inspired not only Hezbollah but a range of
terrorist groups around the world. Bin Laden has talked openly that if you
hit the United States hard, it will give in. And he cited the example of
Lebanon, along with Somalia, as a case where the United States was willing in
his eyes to cut and run simply because it suffered a few hundred dead. And
that if Muslims were willing to sacrifice, that they would easily be able to
defeat the United States and Israel.

GROSS: After September 11th, there was a group letter to President Bush that
was signed by people, including the neoconservative William Kristol and
Richard Perle who were both very strong supporters of the invasion of Iraq.
And in this letter, they argue that any war on terrorism must target
Hezbollah, and they urged military action be considered against Hezbollah
sponsors Syria and Iran. Do you think that the Bush administration is now
seriously considering military action, direct American military action against
either Hezbollah or its sponsors Syria and Iran?

Mr. BYMAN: American military action against Hezbollah would suffer from the
same problems that Israeli military action suffers from. It's unclear who to
bomb. We could bomb targets in Lebanon, infrastructure and so on, but as
President Bush said, the Lebanese government really isn't to blame here. And
its very hard to bomb terrorist organizations. It's unclear what you would
hit. It's very hard to find the right people. So the question is do you go
after their sponsors? And here it is very unclear why the United States would
do this instead of having Israel do it with regard to Syria. Iran is a
different matter. But with Iran, things are exceptionally complex. Iran, of
course, has a nuclear program that the United States is trying to stop, and
bombing it might make this worse. And even more worrisome, Iran has a huge
intelligence and covert military presence in Iraq. Iranians speak openly of
what they call 140,000 American hostages in Iraq, and several hundred
additional shooters, sponsored by Iran, that were active in Iraq could make
the country even worse than it is today. Iran has ties to groups around Iraq,
and this could dramatically tilt the balance there against American forces.
So, unfortunately, for the United States, Iran has options to escalate the
conflict, if the United States strikes it.

GROSS: A lot of people are saying that Israel's response is really
disproportionate to what happened, disproportionate to the Hezbollah killing
several Israeli soldiers and taking two of them hostage. And some people are
saying the reason why the response has been so big is because the new Israeli
government needed to prove that it was tough, particularly because, you know,
Olmert is not a career military man the way that Sharon was, and I'd love to
hear your response to that.

Mr. BYMAN: Israel's response is disproportionate, but from the Israeli point
of view, that's the whole point. Now, undoubtedly, domestic politics does
come into play, and Olmert does want to prove he's tough, in particular as his
political plan is to withdraw from other Palestinian areas. So he's under a
lot of pressure to show that he will react strongly to violence. But from
Israel's point of view, they don't want a tit-for-tat. They don't want to
show that if Hezbollah kidnaps two Israelis, they'll kidnap two Hezbollah
members because they recognize Hezbollah's strategy which is to outlast Israel
and to be willing to sacrifice more. For Israel to show Hezbollah that it
means business and that Hezbollah should not do these sorts of attacks, even
though it wants to, it has to exact a heavy price. It can't simply be
something that is proportionate because Hezbollah's willing to pay a
proportionate price.

GROSS: How much of a stomach for more casualties, more civilian casualties do
you think Israel and Hezbollah have?

Mr. BYMAN: Hezbollah is willing to sacrifice its own people as long as it

GROSS: When you say its own people, you mean its own fighters, but I'm saying
about civilians.

Mr. BYMAN: In Hezbollah's eyes, a Lebanese civilian should be contributing
to the fight. And it doesn't draw this neat distinction between civilian and
soldier. And it says that ordinary people should be contributing. And this
is something that the organization has effectively done in the past is
mobilize Lebanese society. So while I don't think Hezbollah wants Lebanese
noncombatants to suffer in a personal sense, strategically, they do. They
want to mobilize Lebanese opinion behind them, and that is done when
individuals who are clearly separate from the combat die. And this is a
time-honored tactic of terrorist and guerilla groups is that they want
innocents to suffer so their own popular support increases. So people might
say, `I don't believe in what Hezbollah stands for, but I know it fights
Israel, and I hate Israel.' So they are counting on that sort of violence to
increase their own support.

GROSS: And how much of a stomach do you think Israelis have for the civilian

Mr. BYMAN: Israel has always been mixed on civilian casualties in its
military campaigns. They are sensitive to international opinion, and in
general, as a democratic state, they are concerned with high levels of
civilian deaths. But they see what Hezbollah has done as a clear provocation,
and they want to make sure that this sort of thing does not happen again. In
Israeli eyes, Israel withdrew from Lebanon in 2000. And, as a result,
Hezbollah should have no grievance. So from Israel's point of view, the
question is what can Israel do to make Hezbollah learn this lesson not to do
this again? There's no more way to satisfy Hezbollah because Israel has
already done so by withdrawing from Lebanese territory in 2000.

GROSS: Well, Daniel Byman, I want to thank you very much for talking with us.

Mr. BYMAN: Thank you for having me.

GROSS: Daniel Byman is the author of "Deadly Connections: States That
Sponsor Terrorism." He's the director of the Center for Peace and Security
Studies at Georgetown University.

Coming up, Lloyd Schwartz reviews a new DVD collection of telecasts from the
'40s and '50s featuring Arturo Toscanini, conducting the NBC Symphony

This is FRESH AIR.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Review: Lloyd Schwartz reviews new DVD releases of early symphony
telecasts conducted by Arturo Toscanini

Arturo Toscanini was one of the most famous conductors of the 20th century.
He was also a pioneer in taking classical music out of the concert hall and
into people's homes through recordings, radio and television. The telecasts
he made between 1948 and 1952 have been released on DVD. Classical music
critic Lloyd Schwartz has a review.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. LLOYD SCHWARTZ: Strange as it may now seem, network television was once
a source of high culture. NBC, for example, was a pioneer in televising
operas and classical concert music. Some of those very first live symphony
telecasts began as early as 1948 with the then 81-year-old Arturo Toscanini
leading the orchestra created for him, the NBC Symphony. Toscanini
concentrated on his most familiar and popular repertoire. The first program
was devoted entirely to Wagner, and there was the Beethoven "Ninth Symphony."
He played Brahms and Mozart, Dvorak and Debussy, Rossini's "William Tell
Overture" and rarities by Cesar Franck and Sibelius. He also led a complete
"Aida," the Verdi opera with which he made his debut as a conductor in 1886.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. SCHWARTZ: These loving and exhilarating live performances with a live
audience in the broadcast studio or in Carnegie Hall are at least as good as
some of the maestro's recordings and actually in better sound than anyone
tuning in at home half a century ago could imagine. Toscanini was famous for
following the letter of the score, but these performances show his rhythms to
be more flexible than his reputation would have it, both incisive and
sweeping. Some but by no means all of his tempos are fast, but they allow a
flowing, singing quality that is pure Toscanini. "With what a new, fierce joy
we played," one of his violinists wrote. Toscanini trusted his players. In
this buoyant performance of Brahms' "Double Concerto," the soloists are not
visiting celebrities but concertmaster Misha Mishakoff and principal first
cellist Frank Miller.

(Soundbite of "Double Concerto")

Mr. SCHWARTZ: The camera work on late 1940s and early '50s TV is pretty
primitive by current standards. Yet there's something to be said for the
focus on the maestro's expressive face, especially his deep-set and fiery
eyes. He's a singer on the podium, not a dancer. He doesn't use a lot of
unnecessary body language. An occasional finger to his lips keeps the volume
down, creating more suspense in anticipation of the explosion to follow. But
his baton tingles with passion and intensity as he urges the music forward,
caresses the melody into an almost vocal lyricism.

(Soundbite of music)

Mr. SCHWARTZ: Watching these kinescopes, I was surprised to discover that
Toscanini placed the first and second violins on opposite sides of the stage,
an old practice that was pretty much abandoned by the mid-20th century, though
it's been making a comeback lately. This placement is geared more for a
concert hall or stereo recordings where you can actually hear the back and
forth dialogue of the two sections. Yet even in the monophonic sound of early
television, this spacing still affects the quality of the sound, opens it up,
lets more air in. This transparency is another one of Toscanini's great
achievements. These telecasts from more than half a century ago sound more up
to date and vital than a lot of today's performances.

I wish subtitles had been added for the vocal music on the new DVD release,
that the announcer's comments between movements had been eliminated and that
you didn't need a magnifying glass to read the liner notes. But these are
minor complaints. Toscanini was an artist of such monumental importance,
we're lucky to have some of his last performances so thrillingly documented.

GROSS: Lloyd Schwartz is classical music editor of the Boston Phoenix. He
reviewed new DVDs of telecasts featuring the NBC Symphony conducted by Arturo


GROSS: I'm Terry Gross.
Transcripts are created on a rush deadline, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of Fresh Air interviews and reviews are the audio recordings of each segment.

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