Dan Byman was fresh out of school when he took a job as an analyst for the CIA. Byman was a generalist, and they put him on a backwater Persian gulf desk in the late 1980s and early 1990s. Then Saddam invaded Kuwait and the US led a massive military operation to evict the Iraqi army from Kuwait. His memos suddenly had an audience at the highest reaches of government.
That experience led Byman to a career studying the Middle East and global terrorism. He’s the author of numerous books on international terrorism and is Director of Research at the Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution. But most importantly for me, he was the director of the Security Studies program at Georgetown University eight years ago when I was a student there.
We have a great conversation about his fascinating career in and out of government, which includes serving on the 9-11 Commission. We also discuss terrorism more broadly and the international relations of the Middle East. We kick off with a brief discussion about what seems to be the weakening alliance between Saudi Arabia and the USA.