The full document is at http://www.booknotes.org/transcripts/10085.htm It's the transcript of an interview George and Meredith gave on the C-SPAN program "Booknotes" in 1991 on their then-new book, _The Coming War with Japan_. Beside having some now funny ideas about Japan (bold speculation was always their long suit, I see), it also says more about their previous careers and biographies than I've seen anywhere else. Hungarian refugee, huh. In another life he'd have been Andrew Arato. Anyway, the first part is below:
Author: George Friedman and Meredith LeBard
Title: The Coming War With Japan
Air date: June 9, 1991
BRIAN LAMB: George Friedman, co-author of "The Coming War with Japan,"
what's it all about?
GEORGE FRIEDMAN: Well, as the title says pretty bluntly, the idea that
the United States and Japan are going to have a conflict; that in the
same way that the Soviet-American conflict dominated the last two
generations, the U.S.-Japanese conflict is going to dominate at least
the next one.
LAMB: Meredith LeBard, do you really believe this?
MEREDITH LEBARD: I certainly do, especially after spending all the
time we spent researching and writing the book.
LAMB: When did you start?
LEBARD: We starting thinking and talking about this topic in 1989, and
we did some research in 1989 also. Events were happening so quickly
that we realized if we were really going to spend the time writing
this book, we would have to both give up our teaching schedules for at
least one semester, and so we did. George took a sabbatical and I
taught part-time so I gave that up for a semester, and we took the
semester and a summer and wrote non-stop, 12, 14, 16 hours a day.
LAMB: When you say "the coming war," is it a shooting war?
FRIEDMAN: Yes. I mean, the shape of that shooting war -- whether it's
going to be an all-out battle for the Pacific as the first
U.S.-Japanese war was or a surrogate Cold War where we back different
sides in various clashes, that's very difficult to predict -- but
certainly an overwhelming political conflict between two major powers
for domination of the Pacific Basin. Our basic argument is that you do
not have trade wars that are confined to trade wars. The economic
conflicts the U.S. and Japan are having now are the preface to some
much deeper conflicts -- conflicts that have been present for the past
century in the Pacific Basin.
LAMB: When did you first really think something like this would be
FRIEDMAN: When I realized that the Soviet Union had really collapsed
as an international force, that the Cold War was really over and where
everybody was really celebrating the coming of a wonderful age where
the coalition that had defeated the Soviet Union -- the United States,
NATO, Japan -- was going to live together happily and in harmony. I'm
a political scientist, and the study of political science is the study
of conflict. So as we went over the consequences of the end of the
Cold War, I began to look for the signs of the new conflict and what
would the new conflict look like. What I realized was that in history
there had been a lot of victorious coalitions, a lot of coalitions
that had fought a wonderful war -- the one against Germany is an
example -- and that in victory couldn't hold together because all of
the conflicts within the coalition had been suppressed. I looked at
the war with the Soviet Union -- the Cold War was, in a way, a war, an
intense struggle between the two powers -- and I realized the United
States had put together this wonderful coalition and now the question
was, could the coalition hold together? Would this victorious
coalition go the way of, say, the 1945 coalition over in Nazi Germany?
Then I started to think about the underlying issues between the United
States and Japan, and that led me to the kind of conclusions I came
LAMB: How did you divide up the work?
LEBARD: We both researched and we spent the long days in the library
together collecting material. When it came to the actual writing,
George would do the first draft, expressing the ideas that he wanted
to incorporate, and I would take that and craft that into the chapter.
LAMB: Where do you live?
LEBARD: Harrisburg, Pennsylvannia
LAMB: Why do you live there?
LEBARD: I don't know. We just ended up there. I came from Australia,
originally, and that's where I did my university work there. I've
lived in Harrisburg since 1978. Possibly we'll be moving out of the
area very shortly to be closer to more research libraries. We found
that the ones that we used the most were in the Washington-Baltimore
LAMB: Are you attached to a university?
LEBARD: I teach at a community college -- Harrisburg Area Community
LAMB: How about you, George Friedman? Where are you from?
FRIEDMAN: I was born originally in Hungary and I came to the United
States in the early 1950s. Grew up in New York, went to the New York
City school system, City College of New York, Cornell University for
my Ph.D., and came to Harrisburg because I accepted a post in 1974 at
Dickinson College teaching political science. My original interest was
political philosophy. Most of my early work was on Marxism, and I've
written a book on a group called the Frankfurt School, which is a
group of 20th-century Marxists. But I became increasingly interested
in the problem of international conflict and moved away and became
interested in the U.S.-Soviet balance from a military perspective.
When that collapsed, that brought me to this.
It's important to note that Meredith's contribution to the book, aside
from a lot of excellent ideas and a lot of help, was that she made
this readable. I'm a political scientist and political scientists are
morally obligated to be incomprehensible to anyone but other political
scientists. If I had my choice this book would be called "Dynamics of
Political Instability in the Pacific Basin" and would be read by 13
colleagues. Meredith's contribution was to make this a book that could
be read by what we call the learned public, which is who we wanted to
LAMB: How did you two get together?
LEBARD: We were friends before we started working on this book. We had
talked about the possibility of doing something like this together,
and when he came up with the idea of this particular topic and this
particular subject in this particular point in history and asked me to
work with him on it, I was very happy to.
LAMB: Did you change your views at all as you went through the
LEBARD: Growing up in Australia, I had the impression that Australia
was a country that was trying to decide if it was part of Asia or not.
Definitely it was no longer part of the British Empire. I think since
World War II Australians felt much closer to the United States. Our
identity was more with them. As far as Asia goes, they increasingly
were getting involved in trade and business with Asia.
LAMB: Why did you come to the United States?
LEBARD: I married an American. Actually, I wanted to come here more
than he did at the time. I was adventuresome and wanted to travel,
although he would have been happy staying in Australia at the time. We
came here and he set up a dental practice in the United States.
LAMB: And why did you come to the United States?
FRIEDMAN: Essentially because the Communists had taken over Hungary,
and my parents, who had been concentration camp survivors were also
persona non grata to the Communists, so by 1949 it was time to leave
Hungary. They went to Austria and lived in a displaced person camp
with me for several years. Finally, we got visas to the United States.
Ours is a very classic story of refugees making a new life in America.
LAMB: Dickinson College -- what's it like?
FRIEDMAN: Dickinson College is your classic, small, liberal arts
college. I couldn't have written this book without Dickinson College
because one of its virtues is that you're not confined as you are in a
university to one narrow sub- field. In a university there is a
feeling that what you did your Ph.D. on when you were 23, 24 years old
should be the dominant theme of your life for the next 40, 50 years
and it's somehow improper -- lack of manners -- to go beyond the
field. Dickinson College encourages -- urges -- its faculty to be
interdisciplinary in a genuine sense of the term so where your
interest leads you is where you ought to go. So, for example, this
semester I am able to teach a course on U.S.-Japanese relations, which
would be very difficult to do at a large research university -- to
switch your fields from political philosophy. It's a small school. It,
I guess, is one of your better schools as liberal arts colleges go.
LAMB: Who was Dickinson?
FRIEDMAN: John Dickinson, of course, was one of the signers of the
Declaration of Independence and he was governor of Delaware, and I
believe also governor of Pennsylvania at one point -- one of the few
men who held both posts. He was a very important figure, a very
conservative figure during the constitutional debates that went on,
and the college was named after him. It was founded in 1773 and is one
of the few colonial colleges in the country. I don't believe Dickinson
had very much to do with the college but Benjamin Rush, a close friend
of his, did and was a founder.
LAMB: How would you define your own personal political ideology?
LEBARD: Fairly conservative. I definitely would agree with points that
we've raised in this book. Some people have considered that it's a
book written by conservatives. We don't like to think it is. We like
to think that it's a book written by people why are objectively
analyzing the situation -- relations between two countries at this
point in history.
FRIEDMAN: Up until 1989 I would have considered myself a classic
conservative, my primary concern being the Soviet Union and
anti-communism. In a way, that's become irrelevant. I mean, being
concerned about the Soviet Union in 1991 is very different than in
1989. This book is partly the result of a conservative trying to make
sense of a world where the Soviet Union is no longer a major threat.
One of the things, I think, as a conservative I believe is there's a
constancy in the human condition. There isn't dramatic changes,
millennial changes, where everything is solved and we live happily in
peace, and the book kind of represents the search for the unpleasant
But more than that, it's a question of what is going to be the role of
the United States in a world where anti-communism is no longer a moral
compass and where, in fact, international politics are no longer
guided by the overwhelming moral considerations that the U.S.-Soviet
or the U.S.-German -- Nazi -- confrontation represented. You know, for
a very long time now all of our international relations have revolved
around very important moral issues and the nature of liberal democracy
and its relation to other sorts of regimes. Here we have a conflict
between two liberal democracies, what I call two altogether decent
nations. But what is the world going to look like when ideology is no
longer the predominant issue? That is one of the themes that I look
at. So, it's conservative -- the deep sense -- but it's kind of a
conservative-lost after the end of the Cold War.
[continued at http://www.booknotes.org/transcripts/10085.htm]