Alan Dershowitz on Preemption and the Hezbollah

Note: this interview was rebroadcast Jan. 21 at 10 pm on WGBH.
It has also aired on WCAI/WNAN, WNED, KXOT and KYOU. And here are 2 reviews of this interview on PRX.

The controversial Harvard Law professor, author and celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz talks with ThoughtCast about his latest book, “Preemption: A Knife That Cuts Both Ways”, as well as his views on the Israeli-Palestinian-Hezbollah conflict, torture, human rights and our ‘war on terror.’ His premise: the world has changed, and international law must change with it. We need more tools, he argues, in the fight against terror networks whose recruits hold no fear of death or retribution.

Note: Although the subjects we discuss are controversial, my goal is not to argue with Alan, but to find out what he’s thinking. My hope is that our conversation will provoke further discussion on these hot-button issues.

Click here: (30 minutes) to listen to the interview.

Click here: to listen to the hour-long version.

And click here to listen to Dershowitz debate Harvey Silverglate on ‘civil liberties’ on the WGBH Forum Network.

Please join the conversation by leaving a comment!

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8 Responses to Alan Dershowitz on Preemption and the Hezbollah

  1. oliver December 20, 2012 at 1:28 pm #

    Thanks for this podcast. Professor Dershowitz is a very thoughtful person.

  2. alvid July 20, 2011 at 1:55 am #

    This idea of “drawing lines” is not new. Look up any of the work of Giorgio Agamben analyzing Carl Schmidt’s jurisprudence, you will find exactly the same concepts.

  3. dbutz June 10, 2008 at 2:49 pm #

    The influence of Israels’ right wing forces in Washington is amazing compared to their percentage of the American population… Looking back through history …Walter Lippman led the way with “The World Outside and the Pictures in Our Heads”. Also see “A Face In the Crowd” ,1957 starring Andy Griffith, a revealing movie for its time. A check of the people surrounding Bush in the White House before 9/11 would also be revealing. The science of Social Psychology is for sale!

  4. js August 25, 2007 at 11:39 pm #

    If you can afford to 90 minutes, here is the debate between Dershowitz and Chomsky on November 29, 2005 from the John F Kennedy Jr. Forum:

    If you want to see a quick review, see, for example, the following: (Google will return more results)

  5. js August 25, 2007 at 8:43 pm #


    I suggest the following two letters written by Noam Chomsky. I am sure Alan has read them.

  6. Ray August 3, 2007 at 7:37 am #


    Many thanks for a thoughtful interview, as always. I grew up in a borderline Islamist state (Malaysia) and I have seen how acquiescence to potential violence has resulted, over recent decades, in the accumulative erosion of constitutional liberties. Preemption is a defensive violence in response to potential civilian violence – and to pose that ‘violence is unethical’ is a philosophical debate that paralyses proactive action in the present.

  7. homer simpson April 6, 2007 at 6:37 pm #

    This idea of “drawing lines” is not new. Look up any of the work of Giorgio Agamben analyzing Carl Schmidt’s jurisprudence, you will find exactly the same concepts.

  8. Joe January 23, 2007 at 8:53 pm #

    Even when one disagrees with Dershowitz, he makes an interesting case. His statement here that civilization essentially consists of the practice of drawing lines is intriguing. I’m not yet sure that I agree with it, but I want to think about it . . . .

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