The Live Drop

Daniel Levin Negotiates Hostage Release and Mediates Armed Conflict in the Middle East

October 15, 2021 Mark Valley / Daniel Levin Episode 53
The Live Drop
Daniel Levin Negotiates Hostage Release and Mediates Armed Conflict in the Middle East
Show Notes Transcript

In his new book Proof of Life,  American author Daniel Levin dives into the Syrian shadows - an underground industry of war where everything is for sale: arms, drugs, even people.  In this thriller/memoir he draws on his perceptions and experience as a a lawyer turned armed conflict negotiator who, for the past twenty years, has worked with governments and development institutions worldwide. After a fairly worldly upbringing, he served in the Israeli Special Forces, studied law, taught in Arabic, and now uses his extensive Middle Eastern contacts and cultural understanding  for diplomatic and mediation efforts as well. 

In this interview, I showed up for the story of a Syrian hostage negotiation, and stayed for the wide-ranging discussion of the importance of historical context in any conflict resolution and the potential institutional reforms that must also take that into consideration. We talked about the government/ruling situation in Afganistan, Lebanon, and Isreal - and the author’s uncanny sense of smell. 

More about Daniel Levin  --->
https://www.daniellevinauthor.com

Resources mentioned:

Lichtenstein Foundation for State Governance

Empire of the Summer Moon, S. C. Gwynne

Nothing but A Circus, Daniel Levin 

The Martyr Made Podcast - Origins of Zion

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Thank you for listening and your support,

Mark Valley
Creator/Host
thelivedrop.com

 


Transcript for Episode 53 - Daniel Levin 

Daniel Levin  00:00

So one thing that you're seeing in Lebanon and in Syria very much is the the British and the French. The first thing they did when they would enter a territory is they would look for the minority group, and they would put the minority group in power. Because what happened then is that the minority group could never rule without the colonial power support, there would always be unpopular and they knew that the moment they were no longer in power, they just get massacred.

Mark Valley  00:28

His book proof of life author Daniel Levin dives into the Syrian shadows into an industry of war where everything is for sale arms, drugs, even people. This thriller memoir Daniel draws in his experience as a lawyer, turned armed conflict negotiator with for the past 20 years has worked with governments and development institutions worldwide. After an unusually international upbringing. He served in the Israeli Special Forces and now uses his extensive Middle Eastern contacts for diplomatic mediation efforts as well. I showed up for the story of a hostage negotiation in Syria and stayed for the wide ranging discussion of the importance of historical context and then the conflict resolution and the potential institutional reforms that have to take that into consideration we also talked about Afghanistan Lebanon Israel and TV shows and Daniel elevens uncanny sense of smell begins transmission now that was in the first Gulf War to an Israeli army and most of it in an in a helicopter in the air on these really army but were you guys like over on the I was in Iraq. I was in Syria dropped everywhere your special forces right? Yeah, those are memories you know, it took me about a year after the war ended not to shudder whenever I heard a motorcycle revving up in Tel Aviv It was really weird because the sirens both in the army and its own the war sirens every time a squad would get fired yeah got so impregnated in my mind it took me a long time. It was really weird every time there's idiots with like race motorcycles near my home, I just think Oh, here it goes the next time take out the mask do the whole thing. The motorcycle was kind of a trigger was that the sound of a motorcycle revving up I lived in a street that was going uphill and the sound of that revving up sounded exactly like the scout alarm started that like the first two or three seconds sounded exactly like oh, like you had an old-fashioned Claxton alarm.

Daniel Levin  02:17

That was the dog that would start to foam at the mouth.

Mark Valley  02:19

That was an interesting time and they kept trying to pull you guys [Isreal] into the war. Right? Yeah, took a lot of

Daniel Levin  02:25

restraint. But I mean, yeah, it was, um, for me, it was like active war. We were really deployed. But obviously as a as an gnash, as a country Israel held back Of course. Yeah, I think that was the toughest job for the US is keeping Israel out of the whole thing.

Mark Valley  02:39

You know, in your book. I really enjoyed it. By the way, it's, um, somebody said that it's a combination of a thriller, wrapped in a memoir, which I thought was interesting, but it also had a sort of a sort of noir bit to it. And also there was kind of this this sensual side of the experience that I don't not really used to, kind of experiencing and then genre, so I wouldn't say it's really like a Jason Bourne novel. It's more like it's more like a Jason Bourdain. Yeah, that's kind of what I'm going to go with right now. Because I thought, Oh, my God, like down to the food, right? those dates are delicious dipped, and I never thought I never thought that, you know, there was something interesting about it. I said Noir, because glitter noir was sort of postwar and you had detectives and, you know, investigators who were kind of commerce almost seemed like they are they're consciously protecting themselves from getting too pulled into the story. And but there was a kind of equanimity in your voice that allowed you to, you know, allowed you to observe things, what was going on, I think that had something to do with your research later. It also had a like a quality that enabled you to come up with a lot of commentary and remember a lot of it so I'm just I'm just wondering, what was that voice that you heard that you read? After you written it? was it was it a surprise that it seemed like you are there to seem like someone else.

Daniel Levin  03:56

You know, the answers is going to come from I may disappoint you. But I think that the best way I can answer it is that I recognize the voice because it sounds like the voice. I write my diaries, and I've been writing diaries my whole life. And I didn't really intend to. Throughout these 20 days, I never thought I'd be writing the story. In fact, I wrote my last book during this experience, kind of as a matter of therapy. So whenever I had a free moment, I was writing as the last book I wrote nothing but a circus was about sort of life in and around power and politics. And I wrote that I never expected to write the story and had I not made the promise to the two girls at the end, I probably wouldn't have written it. And then there's a different angle but so the book is more the recordings I did, because I do that as a matter of safety protocol whenever I can and transcribe my recordings button. I really do. I enter diary entries, 340 days out of 365 a year and I've been doing it since I'm 12 years old, so the voice that none that didn't really change that much, whether it's an observation on what I'm eating or who Oh, you know, how people smell or what watches they're wearing or, or a dialogue, to extend it remember, is something I've been doing really most of my life. So that's, for me very recognizable, actually met the hardest part for me was how do I write it in a way that's neither self-serving the self-effacing nor self-aggrandizing obviously so that and then it becomes inauthentic at some point and that was more of a struggle. But when I was rendering what I wrote down in diaries in terms of dialogues or observations that came very naturally and seems authentic, the hardest part was anything that's reflective and and sometimes the dialogue seems really self-serving for whatever reason, either because there's your self effacing in a way that you hope your audience will appreciate or because you seem like a hero that you're really not so that you know that's the sort of Jason Bourdain dilemma I guess those two both

Mark Valley  05:41

was quite a trip I mean, did you get to know through writing this Did you get to know who Paul blocker I know that's probably a pseudonym but did you get to know sort of who he was or on this movie the transporter were they always tell him not to don't ask what you're transporting right you know, to me, I mean, do you find that Do you find that to be a challenge? Or do you find it actually helps with your case?

Daniel Levin  06:04

I mean, I think it helps generally in the case of hostages to know as much as you can of the person you're looking for the what I do try to avoid and it wasn't really possible entirely as I tried to have very little contact with the families so I tried to get the information I can it's very hard to deal with families of missing people you know, whether it's in a military context obviously it's really painful but certainly in this kind of context, people have turned to governments or intelligence agencies and either didn't get very far or got in a way that they weren't really happy with and then you're trying to navigate that and you're navigating angry or sad or people and just living in agony kind of thing and it really paralyzes you so that's the part I tried to minimize but I did try to find as much as I could there was a time early in this where I really thought he was related to the Captagon trade. It was some weird coincidences information I've received some of which I hinted at the books others I didn't include that I thought it's possible this guy somehow got tied up in it maybe cluelessly maybe not and i and i wouldn't have wanted to touch it and I just feel like that you know there's also limited resources of my own resources to that wasn't gonna get involved in someone just because someone's a drug Korea who got screwed and then it wasn't the case he was really much more of a this really bizarre clueless adventure of hey why not track those trails of people I know and not realizing you're entering into this medieval war zone and but I definitely try to learn as much as I can of the person I'm looking for

Mark Valley  07:27

jumped up and head I want to talk to you about the kind of stages that you go through I thought it was fascinating that is six to eight weeks people stop wanting to know what's happening but they they settle just for okay no bad news is good. I just wanted to ask you maybe we have like a larger calendar what is what aren't some of the other stages that you know families go through and what are some of the stages that you go through as an investigator as well

Daniel Levin  07:52

I try really as much as I can the less emotionally invested I am the better I try really to go a foot to get over you know in front of another foot in there's so many twists and turns that there's no way you can anticipate you have no idea when you start this stuff out who's going to be helpful to who now you have no idea why the person is alive or not. And whether you'll get proof of life or even understand who held him and so the all these grandiose kinds of visions of how you're going to go about it in that's really Jason Bourne stuff you know that's not really very different from the idea that you will parachute in behind enemy lines and shoot 3000 prison guards and escape with a guy that's you know, that's silly stuff and none of it really works that way you're constantly disadvantage and interacting with people who don't need to help you at all so I really just get tried to do this in concentric circles and get it one step at the other and the moment I feel that I can out think this and plan like chess you know this lovely metaphors that we like 3040 moves ahead I fall flat on my face so I try to stay within myself but I do notice these emotional changes also families are fed a whole lot of nonsense in the senate you know stuff like god you know if you don't if you don't find the person within the first six hours their chances dropping anyway all that kind of stuff that you see for movies it's really silly it's just not true it depends very much and it's very different in Syria What if the regime has your militia has to and is different if the secular religious militia is completely different ballgame for millions of reasons and so I try I've noticed with them that there's this initial euphoria because they talked to important people, whether it's in government and the you know, you have a secretary of state who comes out and says, you know, we're not going to leave a stone unturned, blah, blah, blah. So you have the initially 40 that lasts a few days, sometimes a few weeks, and then there's a total crash where the families realize okay, that's how they are and then they have to try and figure it out. And they realize how hard that is. And then they make the first mistakes. So there's the example, you start a media campaign, right? And only then and then and then what happens then you have that new cycle like three weeks later you realize, wow, not only wasn't able to get close Sir I just increase the head the head value on this person other whoever has him thinks now he's worth a lot more than he actually is I just made it that much harder right not just in a ransom context also in terms of trading favors or whatever someone would want to return so you have all these cycles we do always have this euphoria that it tanks rise I always have that that that hockey curve going up and then the cliff falling and that you know, after three or four of those cycles, so people are in captivity six months or beyond. Three or four of those cycles usually leave the family as flatliners like they say, like, Don't even call me not even not to tell me there's no bad nose, like, it has to be something extraordinary. Oh, he's either dead or you have otherwise don't bother me, you often get to that place six months in. And that's not because it's a progression, because you have these monthly or three weekly progressions and then these crashes. And it's really hard to go through that with a family because you really can anticipate at the core of it is that humans are just really shitty prognosticators. We're really bad at understanding our own future behavior let alone evaluating other people's so this is such a messy process and what in behavioral psychology called noisy right there's all this useless variability and it's not even biased. It's just useless variability. We don't humans don't make consistent decisions in the same context. A judge doesn't decide the case on a Monday morning the way he wouldn't Thursday afternoon, or if his team won a football game on Sunday lost a football game so all these factors influence decisions shouldn't happen the same thing happens here. And so you have all these variables that these variabilities that you can't explain to the family so so these are really messy cycles but what you do see is more or less in a monthly rhythm with missing people this this sort of slight hope thinking of doing something you can help yourself and then this crash and then after about half a year it just because

Mark Valley  11:49

it's interesting, I mean, I guess there's like an on the other side, there are the kidnappers, right? I mean, there's, there's their cycle, they obviously capture someone they have, they have their own high hopes, and also I you know, I'll be talking about this stuff, and I know you've had some horrific experiences. So I hope, you know, I hope I hope I don't make light of it at all, you know, because, um, you know, some of the people you've been in contact with some of the people we've read about, you know, there's some really kind of extreme circumstances and consequences. But I would say that, I did talk to a mediator who wasn't a crisis mediator or a warzone mediator, but he mentioned something kind of flippantly like, he uses it a lot, which like he just Well, the negotiation was right. And I was just wondering if there is a moment where in a negotiation like that where it is right for negotiation? What are the conditions for that? Possibly,

Daniel Levin  12:35

you could say that that's a correct statement, you could also easily say, that's a really stupid statement, it's there certainly can be, there's always a moment where the negotiations not right, but that's because of certain factors that are incorrect, right? Like the asking price is not right, or it might not ever release date might not be right, there's always a situation that's ripe for negotiation, the mistake you can make is discuss certain terms that aren't yet ready to be discussed. But for example, in any negotiation, any kind of situation, trying to maintain a contact with the kidnappers is always right, it may just be that you're creating a relationship, or you're building up a network of people who have relationships with them who have favors and counter favors that you can try to trade. So in that sense, for me, it's always right from the very from the very first moment, you just have to be careful not to either miss the moment or ask it too early about the terms of a release, because the one thing you don't want to do is shoot your wad. And you sort of try the negotiation, when you're going to get a demand that you can't fulfill that sets you back sometimes irrevocably. So in that sense, that's the ripeness, I think you have to be really careful. But that's really just avoiding one of different kinds of mistakes. You obviously it's kind of like any lawyer, you don't ask an answer. You don't ask a question, if you don't already know the answer, right? Any trial lawyer, it's the same thing here, you certainly don't ask a kidnapper, what his price is, if you don't know his answer in advance, and you know that you're going to be able to satisfy it in some form, either yourself or through someone else. So that's the right that's the only kind of rightness that I think is relevant to me beyond that, trying to maintain contact become friendly with the group that's holding him with a group that has a relationship with that group. That's right from day one. As far as I'm concerned. You're my

Mark Valley  14:12

first experience about kidnapping when I was a kid was the Patty Hearst kidnapping. And I still remember seeing the picture of her with a machine gun with a I don't know if it's a Kalashnikov or something. Think of what is going on here. I mean, of course, Stockholm Syndrome and so forth. Have you ever run across that in your in any of your cases?

 Daniel Levin  14:30

Yeah, I mean, you know, it's, I remember as a kid, and my dad was Israeli ambassador in Kenya when I'm in the 60s and I was a little kid and so he maintained really close contacts with girls and Southeast Asia, in southeast in East Africa, sorry. And when Entebbe happened the kidnapping of the of the airplane with a lot of Israeli passengers on board, and they ended up in Uganda under the admins protection. I remember kind of finding something almost romantic about the Red Army Faction and you You know, the German left wing terrorists that held it just like I thought it was kind of cool the way the red brigades and others had kidnapped ultimo and hung SmartThings flyer in the 70s at the time, and my dad kind of disabuse me of all that right away and saying the non-romanticizing something that's actually really quite ugly. And so I got that in my system. But what he also at the time taught me which, especially in the European catnap is like a demo. And in particular, in Germany, that was early childhood memory of mine was, I remember when his picture, the kidnapping was posted on TV with a ransom payment. And my dad immediately reacted by saying that they're not interested in any ransom. They're really just interested in executing him, oh, well, then he was executed later. So to me was that kind of thing. So he did disabuse me very quickly of any kind of romantic notion that you should figure out some sympathy for the kidnappers that way. So it's funny, we have different early childhood memories when it comes to these high profile cases,

Mark Valley  15:57

just in your experience in the past, maybe 10 or 15 years? How have how have they developed? Or have they changed their methods?

Daniel Levin  16:06

I think, first of all, everything related to this is true for drug trade. This is for kidnapping, they've become extremely sophisticated on the financial side. So for example, today's whether it's Islamic groups in Syria, or criminal gangs, or the regime itself have become extremely adept at using cryptocurrencies, for example, you know, so the ability and in the past, they were very good about trust structures and hiding beneficial owners and figuring out how to interact with banks was so that cash amounts can be put into a bank system and they no longer be traceable once they're in the swift system. So there's always that that kind of a step ahead of line for multiple steps ahead of law enforcement there. And I feel that now in Syria, you see even the interface with technology and for in terms of GPS tracking, using devices VPN satellite technology that makes them really untraceable has been they're really very sophisticated. In terms of what you mentioned earlier, I found that the Islamic groups with a very public executions of the you know, the James fund 2014, which is when my book takes place, actually, but James Foley and Steven Sotloff, and others, these really gruesome executions of the Jordanian pilot who was burnt alive in a cage by ISIS, and those were used as recruitment videos. And that was really the whole point that it was never intended to be any kind of negotiated release or anything in return you release some of our prisoners never intended was really it was intended to be this grisly recruiting intended mainly for disaffected North African immigrants in London and in Paris, that was their core market and a little bit in Belgium too, but mainly Paris and London. And, and so there's very little you can do there. It's really just a race against time, whether you can locate them, but there are a lot of them were held in northeast Syria and Iraq and places like that. So pretty impenetrable, including for American special forces that tried to enter in 2014, and couldn't. And so that's a bit of a game changer, because there's very, very little to negotiate this just very little room for any kind of communication, the whole point of the whole thing was an execution. And you'd usually run out of time very quickly before you can establish contact, but in terms of their sophistication, even their from the production value of these YouTube clips to the way they are being funded to the way they understand the fungibility of certain commodities, so they become untraceable is really quite sophisticated and including even the way their funds are being invested. So you find yourself in this weird interface between ISIS groups and their various militias using any kind of blockchain technology right, that's the cryptocurrencies not just not just Bitcoin, but all and Tesla thinking that that's a good way to pay for car so you find this bizarre interface of high tech and the most valuable companies in the world in the world with these terror groups that have completely mastered that. And that's where law enforcement is generations behind these types of groups. They're really sophisticated

Mark Valley  19:11

it wasn't there a risk there's some sort of recent bust of like a an underground international criminal network because they use like a fake dark web communication system. Yeah. So I wanted to talk a little bit we touched on it a little bit about your background Yeah, I know you're in it you're an attorney to Switzerland is involved in their software. really sure. And you were born in Israel Can you maybe just give me a quick rundown of Tell me what you kind of about yourself like where you grew up? And

Daniel Levin  19:40

yeah, I mean, it's messy. I was born in Israel when I was in 63, some 59 years or 50 years old. And my dad was a sort of the war time founding generation of Israel was a veteran of the War of Independence was with this sort of elite Free Army unit called the Panama was heavily injured, lost. Most of us Left side left arm a trap known as he is one of those people beat at every airport security check because he had so much shrapnel in his body his whole life and was very close to the ganglion and Diane and that generation and was posted in 66, to Kenya to set up Israeli relationships in East Africa just before the Six Day War II a year before that. And then obviously, before the oil crisis in 73, where relations with African leaders were really good, my dad knows some of these Kenyatta and those guys from the 50s. Still, when I really were fighting for fighting for independence, so they shared their experiences, he was fighting for independence, not only against the Arab countries, but also against the British because of the British Mandate, the time so right wing very close to him, for them posted there. I was three and ended up speaking spoke Hebrew and English at home. And then I spoke so he could call us sort of adjusted to that culture, my sister was born there ended up being called in the Lycos Swahili name. In 67, the Six Day War, he believed this would be a good time for Israel to enter into negotiation with the Arab countries for two state solution, and communicated that to everyone to go that today and to others, and basically was outvoted. And in part because of the cartoon resolution, the time that condemned Israel with all the Arab countries, and so we returned to Israel in 69. And he was pretty disgusting left politics and my mom was from the time part of Switzerland. So when they decided to take a little sabbatical, and left politics and move to Switzerland, and they got stuck there, my dad passed away three years ago, my mom still lives there. And so I ended up going to school, they're an elementary school, high school, left after high school, came to the states in at 81. And lived there for a year and just did a whole lot of music, martial arts, that kind of stuff and ran out of money, went back to Switzerland went to law school. And I had to do the Swiss Army because by then I'd also become Swiss. Alright, yeah, I did the Swiss Army then and and then after law school had went to Israel to work on an a PhD. And but because I was Israeli born, I went to the Israeli army, and then did my years there. And so that's, and that was right, and went back in 88. So that's how I got that got, you know, stuck in the Gulf for at the time, the first and then four years there and then got a scholarship to come to the US in 92. And then have more or less lived here ever since works as lawyer initially started my own firm in the mid 90s, started to do a lot of development work a little initially in Africa, and then Middle East and other countries, mainly re setting up economies and political systems. And that that led me more to the work that I do today running this European Foundation, we had developed a form of E government a way to in the mid 90s. And we use it as a mediation and conflict. So for example, we got very involved in the, in the civil war in Angola in the mid to late 90s. Where we ended up mediating between the government and which was supported by initially Soviet Union and, and Cuba. Versus Sabine be the rebels in the bush who were supported by the CIA in apartheid South Africa, we ended up mediating between the sides and creating a sort of a joint coalition and new economy with a good both sides could participate. And that was the beginning of a mediation work. And we did that kind of diplomacy in part as part of rebuilding those countries economically, politically. And that's, that's really pretty much the work I still do today. And that leads us more and more into war zones. And just because of my own Middle Eastern background, and, and speaking of languages, it helped me get more and more involved to work now in Libya and Yemen, several countries in the Middle East. And so that's in a nutshell, the

Mark Valley  23:29

background, there's a big nutshell,

Daniel Levin  23:31

it always, you know, I hear myself say this, and it sounds always more glorious than it is and most of is just running out of options and looking for the next thing to do, and then eventually look back and say, Oh, yeah, there's some kind of a trajectory there. But it's certainly not visible when you're starting out. I can tell you that.

Mark Valley  23:45

Yeah, who can always kind of look back and think that we had some big crystal ball 3d chess way of solving our life, but really, we're just going step by step scene to scene, I guess, in some instances, absolutely. Afghanistan, I just want to hear your thoughts on the situation. And, you know, the Americans kind of pulling out and what problems that could cause because you talked about Syria and understanding that area before you went in there. And of course, there's the Shia, there's Alawi, there's, you know, the North Koreans are bringing things in the Russians have an interest that is belaz involve the Iranians and you know, the US was tinkering around in there for a little while, but, and you describe how this kind of war you talk about your book, how this war economy is, is sort of sustaining all this unrest? How do you see a similar situation in Afghanistan? And who would some of the players be that we might not expect?

Daniel Levin  24:36

It's really hard to answer that question quickly. Because the only intelligent way to discuss that from from me is in a much larger context, I think you have to go back to 1979, where the two major events that happened was the Iranian Revolution, and the attack on the Grand Mosque in Mecca and which completely redrew the Middle East and the Arab world. And The Islamic world too. And so you can't really understand, for example, Afghanistan if you don't understand Pakistan, which before then was a much more secular country which completely flipped because if Pakistan's face so closely tied to what's going on Afghanistan, I think we completely as a country, us now misplayed the relationship with Pakistan over the last 20 years and so many levels, I don't even want to get started. It's not just do we like boots or don't we like boots, or that's not the point. We absolutely fail to further investments in terms of return on investment failed to accomplish institutional ties that we needed both government to government military to military and intelligence, we would have needed notwithstanding all the sy Hersh rumors on how Bin Ladin actually got caught, and whether there was cooperation with ISI. Let's leave all that for the side, just in terms of looking at what we've accomplished. If you look at Afghanistan, if you just look at the last 20 years, and without even being silly or polemic about the you know, the return on investment for the money, the idea that you'd go there to help build an army and teach how to fight in a country like Afghanistan is obviously absurd, right? And I don't really know that's the Vietnam analogy to me. That's the Yemen analogy of NASA in the 50s. Or had to learn that I mean, every country that went into Yemen, from Egypt to Saudi Arabia to Nigeria remembers to everyone, everyone learned that the hard way you have the you know, every eight year old Yemeni boys walk around ak 47, you really don't need to teach them how to fight. There's other things you might want to be able to help provide. But it's certainly not how to run a war. And so and I feel the same way about Afghanistan, the biggest failure to me was to make a pacifying Afghanistan conditional upon Pakistani involvement and support, because now Pakistan gets to gloat. What's really dangerous? It also, it's very hard to answer your question without even understanding the missed opportunity. For example, Qassim Soleimani, the Iranian, the head of the Kurds force, whom I met several times I mentioned in a footnote in my book was a sworn enemy of the Taliban and a sworn enemy of ISIS. Right mind, Al Qaeda, I mean ISIS early on, and all kinds of later, for a number of reasons that were threatening to Iranian aspirations. He was a natural ally, which he actually was around 2003, when he was big buddies, with David Petraeus as an example, right. So the missed opportunities of trying to figure out where the alliances really are, and how to rebuild those countries based on those alliances and take advantage of that also, for example, to establish some kind of a productive relationship with Iran so that you can control the proliferation. Those are all the real stories. So that's the missed opportunity to Afghanistan that for 20 years, and that investment, and the and the blood and so on, that we haven't established meaningful institutions and ties to those institutions, even just rethinking their political system, the idea that you can copy any kind of Western, I don't mean just liberal democracy, any kind of rule of law structure that we're accustomed to with the you know, three arms of government separation of powers by Chamber of Parliament's all that stuff that makes absolutely no sense. In a country as large as Afghanistan is tribal, as rural, as nomadic in some places just really makes no sense. So they required the humility to actually go then trying to greet them in those solutions, including integrating the Taliban. And there were efforts to do that. But we really, as a superpower, even more so since the Cold War, I know you sort of you like Cold War, espionage, where we also had a much higher level of human intelligence quality, since the end of the Cold War, thinking through the post war the day after, and the day after the day after scenarios, is something that the US perhaps has just gotten big enough to be able to afford to fail that, you know, that's how I feel about Afghanistan, it's still despite this complete mess. And I'm really not focused on whether we went out too fast or not too far. I don't think it would have made any difference if I'd taken half a year to get out. I really don't believe that. I think that's all these are strawman arguments done for whatever reasons, I'm not saying Biden communicated perfectly. I don't think the intelligence was perfect. And I just don't think that's the meaningful issue to discuss. I really do believe you're looking back and saying, Well, what actually is the plan? Because even though you and I both agree, we cannot plan everything ahead. You certainly don't go into a country like Afghanistan if you can't map out multiple scenarios and how they're going to play out for you so that they failure to develop this and again, the same idea. It's like we're talking about Trujio in the Dominican Republic decades ago. It's kind of like, well, he may be a son of a bitch, but he's our son of a bitch kind of those famous words. Right? Right. So it's the same thing here. It's like, well, we don't like Gandhi, but you know, maybe corrupted at least is with us. It's the same nonsense that led to the Shahs downfall where we couldn't recognize the Iranian Revolution coming even though it was a tsunami that anyone on the ground could recognize coming months and months ahead of time. Right. So same thing with Arab Spring 2011. I mean, you have to be blind, not to understand, for example, in Egypt, that you'd have a wave sweeping the Brotherhood to power. And it's not just because the Brotherhood was so supported in this whole population, it's just by far the best organized group and the one lesson they learned from the fall of Mosul is they're not going to make that mistake the next time and leave a Trojan horse like cc within their government structure. They're not going to repeat that mistake, it's going to get much uglier when 95 million starving Egyptians going to take to the streets so for me it's this inability to anticipate that when anyone on the ground would have seen that coming the models were trying to work with the people on the ground in Kabul first of all Justin couple are not in the provinces on a political level. Which Mistake number one were models that we knew in the US and I'm not trying to be polemic about the collapse of American political system it's just that no country should really be exporting its political system because it's just a different context Afghanistan Pakistan can't export it to Afghanistan completely different structures and so that's to me the real screw up I focusing on you know, on an explosion at the airport and whether you have a special ISIS group and now they are they going to be aligned with the Taliban or not and how do the Iranians feel about them or not? And is the enemy of my enemy actually my that's kind of kindergarten football right? Where I sort of there's one ball and all the kids are running to the ball rather than spreading out and everyone has their own function to play this is to me, you know, just kindergarten football and diplomacy. I think that's super unproductive most of the discussion here on that is to me out of garbage.

Mark Valley  31:40

Yeah, thanks for thanks for for answering for

Daniel Levin  31:45

less than you bargained for Sorry about that. I like

Mark Valley  31:47

I like the ideal podcast guest. You know what I mean? You just sort of wind it up. And, you know,Daniel Levin  31:53

let him rant.

 

Mark Valley  31:54

You talk about interesting things. And they make sense. Yeah. Yeah, I was gonna just joke I was gonna joke around and ask you to talk to my mother. She told me leave.

Daniel Levin  32:03

I just was in Zurich, visiting my mom say I understand. Maybe the two of them should just talk at the easiest solution. Yeah, it's much more tender negotiation. But they're not the similar to kidnapping them nonetheless. Right? 

Mark Valley  32:17

Yeah, definitely. One thing I noticed is my mother moved to a different house. And she has some things that laying around and I've kind of been going through them and she had a bunch of books that she used to read to me when I was a kid. rather like this big, you know, Alexander's terrible day, stuff like that. So I started looking through them. And what's fascinating about it was that I didn't really remember the plot of these of these books, but I can remember certain things in the illustrations. And what I thought they smelled like, what I thought they felt that's the was It was shocking. I thought, My god I've, I'm reading a book, but I'm kind of creating this. You know, I'm creating this sensory experience as a kid while I was reading it.

Daniel Levin  32:57

It's funny to say that because don't

Mark Valley  32:59

watch it goes, but yeah,

Daniel Levin  33:01

no, no, it's funny because I just thought I went to, in my mom's house, I went to the basement to take some of my dad's old diaries from even from the 60s he wrote in this tiny, tiny handwriting and Hebrew, and bring them home to me here so I could read some of them. And they will fascinate when I opened it, I smelled exactly what it smelled like in his office all the time, is that same smell that the paper had just been infused. And so it's funny to say that, you know, these are sensations that sensory overload that I hadn't had in many, many years.

Mark Valley  33:31

Yes, funny. People don't really talk about smells that much. So Sir, I mean, it really jumped out to your book. Yeah, sometimes I know, like, before an audition, if I still smell little, a little sweet after I've showered like Dude, you're not really that well prepared. Or I could, I could sense by like, anxiety or nervousness, but I never thought of like smelling it on. on other people. I just remembered as a kid that certain families had a general smell Did you notice that like, people from a certain household had different smells, I mean, it could have something to do with the soap they use or something like that. But I've already said a pretty sensitive nose, but I haven't really put it to work like I think you've done with yours.

Daniel Levin  34:11

And for me, I didn't realize it for many, many years. It came much later through martial arts and then these healing arts where you start to realize that people in a in a harmonized condition are anxious or fearful or sad or angry, you know, emit a certain smell. And once you understand that, you can't ever on smell these things anymore on yourself and others. I mean, even you know my kids before exams, or if they're really sad day, you know, you feel really powerfully because you're physically very close to them. But it was something from my childhood, it took me a long time to put it together. I just thought I thought it had more to do with not being clean. I didn't really get it quite when I was little. And only later on did I put it together. And so and it's really interesting in the context of bullies in particular, because what you're really smelling the fearfulness, right, so It's really interesting, but it took a lot, you know, years and years of getting closer to healing arts and understanding. Just like you can do body readings and understand from the way people tilt across their legs, whether they're hot or cold just because they're harmonizing it through touch. Or you know, you see it with, for example, very often identical twins, especially if they're preemies are born with a stick each other's thumbs in the other person's mouth, because you're harmonizing what we call first step through a thumb, which is your stomach and spleen energy which in a disharmony state also emits a certain smell which is you know, that indicates anxiety so that you start to put all these things together took me you know, only the last 20 years that I started to understand some of these contexts and how they worked and it's it was it was interesting and I thought in the context of the book because it through also just sometimes these sleep deprived, heightened sensation moments where your sense of smell even gets more accentuated than would otherwise be so it really felt like this overload experienced noise much louder and smell much stronger in darkness much darker and light and brightness much brighter. So it was for me something nice to put into context.

Mark Valley  36:12

Is there also why you live 25 miles north of New York City and not in New York City.

Daniel Levin  36:17

Yeah, yeah, for me it's really a sensory overload. We lived in New York until our seconds until basically August just before 911 August 2001. And when our son was born and and I just couldn't take the the noise and the intensity anymore, it was too much for me just this inability I didn't mind it for a while, but I could never escape it anymore. And that the color was always the same. They never really saw stars in the sky. Right? That was it was always that one state the whole time of being lit. And so yeah, we just left and really happy about that.

Mark Valley  36:47

Yeah, whenever I go back, it's just yeah, it's an assault. If you haven't been there in a while,

Daniel Levin  36:54

where do you Where do you live permanently when you're not visiting your mom?

Mark Valley  36:57

I live in my mother's basement of my mother's garage. Truth be told, I just moved into her garage. I live in Los Angeles I live in a sort of on the border with Pasadena it's called so are you familiar with la they're all just a little bit

Daniel Levin  37:11

LA is a strange place to visit it also it has all kinds of phenomena that I'm not really accustomed to it's obviously beautiful being near the water and and I love the coast but but la itself has a whole different I'm nine it all in the entertainment industry. So for me, it's just a bit of an out of body experience being there. But there's a lot more to LA obviously than I know just haven't experienced it. So superficially only

Mark Valley  37:33

there was one passage in your book where you described I think it was colleague was telling you about people he said, Listen, these are sharks, you don't feel bad when they do bad things to you, because they're just swimming around doing what they what they do. I thought oh my god, that sounds so much like some people I've met in Los Angeles, you know, if you ever wanted to, you know negotiate your television or film deal for your book, you know, I think you'd think you'd be pretty good at it.

Daniel Levin  38:00

It was it was really a strange because we optioned, we optioned the film rights. And then those discussions and negotiations with the bidders were really strange, actually. And it was different dynamics, whether you're dealing with producers, or you know, and then among producers, professionals versus sons of really wealthy tech entrepreneurs who like to run their own production company, just this really dynamics. But yeah, maybe it's I don't maybe I was better prepared for it was it's it was a very, very interesting experience. I will say, I look forward to the creative part of processes put it that way.

Mark Valley  38:33

But where are you developing it? Are you putting it into something?

Daniel Levin  38:36

A group of producers and writers who are working now Yeah, option to film right. So they're working on a pilot, the idea is to make it a one season of a multi season series. And to make the book one of those seasons, so they can scrape? Yeah, it's fun. I mean, the creative part is a lot of fun. Definitely. And it's extremely different writing for TV or film versus writing a book and I hadn't I knew nothing about that. So it's, um, I have a really steep learning curve. And that's fun.

Mark Valley  39:03

Yeah, this might be a little bit more sensitive topic. But I did want to ask you just because of your experience, I was really into the show photo for a few seasons. And I watched it, and I was just drawn into it so much, but then by the third season, I started feeling a little I don't know how to explain it. I it was, um, I thought, Wait a minute, is this is this telling me who to root for? You know what I mean? Yeah. And, and I know they brought some other they brought a different point of view and for the third season, but I just wanted to know what your perception of of that show was. I thought it was fantastic and what was happening, but I thought this might be a little bit too close to what's actually happening. Sometimes fiction is better off being a little bit more metaphor, but I just wanted to know what your thoughts were on that. Yeah.

Daniel Levin  39:42

For me, that really hits home. I know a lot of those units. We did things together with those undercover units, you know, in the Gaza Strip in the West Bank, and so I think it was well done. It's really fast paced, well written, well acted all that I think is true. I thought it it goes horrified one aspect of this enough where there's really not allowed to glorify and I'm friends with quite a few friends who are in those units or were in those units and in their own form of Special Forces essentially and there's nothing really about that that they perceived that way and you know there's it felt so dirty and messy and I think that gets lost I think Fauda errs a little bit into the direction of the sort of Superman going behind enemy lines and I think I was uncomfortable actually watch two or three episodes and I stopped I really didn't enjoy it personally I stopped and it's not to say this that well acted and all that but I did not enjoy that and I also feel that especially movies about Middle East and Israel and Palestine I'm so exhausted by that by the whole sort of tribal depiction depending on who you are and there's good and as bad and just tell me who you are, where you're born what your political affiliation is your religion that can just tell you exactly how you're gonna feel but Middle East and I'm really exhausted by that that's such an unknown ones kind of approach to the Palestinian people. My life's been really different. For the last almost 30 years I you know, I taught in Arabic in universities in East Jerusalem, and in alcoves, university and Villas at university I've established relationships no different than mine in Israel and that and for those who think that makes me self hating Jew, and then kick rocks, I don't really care. So I just got really tired by by just belonging to one camp. And I can recommend By the way, if you haven't listened to this already, there's an amazing podcast by guy called Darrell Cooper called the martyr made podcast. And it's a few years old his first episodes were on the Israel Palestine conflict, especially the origins of Zionism and the early settlers and the Palestinian population there and it is probably the most intelligent thing I've listened to on the region it's an irrespective of exactly how I feel about it. So my thinking is much more aligned with that. And even though my background I was an Israeli army in combat, my dad obviously in the in the independence generation, that very much put all his chips in the middle of the table at from one table only, obviously, I get that. But I think in 2021, to, to just glorify those kinds of operations, I thought was exhausting. And I know some of the people behind found out claimed that they want it to be even handed about, I just think they weren't, I really don't enjoy that don't enjoy. So the Middle East, being carved up that way, just like I don't like to talk about Syria in sectarian terms that even Iran and, and Iraq and sector in terms of there's just so much more nuance, just like we you and I talked about Afghanistan, it's just, it's just a little bit more complicated than to just say, well, the Taliban a caveman looking at it, you know, treat women and therefore, that's, it's such a silly way to go about that stuff. I'm really exhausted by those kinds of occasions. So for me, foul days, not time, I don't want to spend my time watching something.

Mark Valley  43:06

Yeah, it's interesting that you had one character who said that Americans that goes up, or he was saying American exceptionalism is based on the fact that we were not tribal. I was thinking, um, I kind of vague to differ a little, a little bit. Yeah,

Daniel Levin  43:19

it's funny how different that us is right? How our perception of us has changed. I mean, this is 2014. Right. And as I'm editing the book and thinking about, I'm thinking, wow, you know, the world has changed were a whole lot more tribal, than we perhaps thought. But but you know, in part, that's probably my ignorance about the US. I'm reading a book right now it's on a new book called Empire of the summer moon, about the Comanches. And, and the Parker family, Cynthia and Parker, and it was taken in the 1840s, I think, and grew up as Comanche and that whole settlement of Texas post Alamo and and sort of that the philosophy about and even the, the, among the settlers this dislike for their own government, right and not feeling in any way bound by the Texas government's agreements with the Native American groups there. I mean, there's so much about it, I don't know where you feel that the tribal thinking is so deeply ingrained way beyond what we're now talking about with, you know, the vestiges of slavery in original sin. It goes, it's so much more nuanced than that, that, you know, the fact that we didn't recognize our own tribal structures and focus much more on multi cultural society is probably due to my ignorance, but I also believe both things can be true, which is we can be an extremely tribal society, also for political reasons. Also, perhaps also, because the Civil War still has its impact today in terms of the compromises necessary to emerge as a union, and which is all Lincoln really cared about is just not losing that. And, and yet, at the same time, we can be a country of immigrants and you know, composed of people from all over the world and all kinds of religions and pigmentation and so on. So I think both things can be true. It's not the binary choice. It doesn't make us on tribal just because we multicultural. But I think that certainly the degree in the US compared to Lebanon, people don't only just put you in one category, despite all the polemics going on right now, it's a little bit, you know, there are other aspects to you versus the Lebanon, it's really clear which group you belong to, it's going to determine everything

Mark Valley  45:18

I was living on there. So, I mean, it's so there's so many players there. So many different organizations, tribes, communities, I mean, I don't want to get into Lebanon too much. But that just seems like a so confusing that, it almost seems like they would have to have some sort of, you know, democratic way of solving problems. But Mark,

Daniel Levin  45:37

you know, that part of I mean, Lebanon, like Syria, you can't really understand its problems if you don't understand the history of the problem. So even and I know a lot has been written about the sex Pico line and the way the British and the French carved up the region, all that and that's all true. But one of the things that you're still seeing in the Middle East was something that the colonial powers used brilliantly the British better than anyone else, but even the French, which is that when they would go into a particular area, and by the way, early Zionist, as much as they, those Eastern European Jews had suffered from off of problems for centuries, in Eastern Europe, they still had a white, European colonial mentality in terms of how they saw indigenous population impact in Palestine. And so again, multiple, you can be a victim in one context and in a perpetrator from that perspective, another one, just more nuanced, not binary. And so one thing that you're seeing in Lebanon and in Syria very much is the the British and the French, the first thing they did when they would enter territory is they would look for the minority group. And they will put the minority group in power. Because what happened then is that the minority group could never rule without the colonial power support, there would always be unpopular, and they knew that the moment they were no longer in power, they just get massacred. Right. And Israel, by the way, has done the same thing. So when we talk about how come is how come you have Hamas in the Gaza Strip? Why would Israel allow for that to happen? Well, you have to understand Hamas was a minority against Fatah against that group. So Hamas was very, very useful, right as a tool initially, until you get, you know, Frankenstein's monster. And then at some point, you don't control this thing anymore. And but Syria and Lebanon are perfect examples where the tiny minority you put in power, never would withstand any kind of popular democratic vote. And they would just get butchered if they weren't power long enough, because they had committed atrocities. So they needed the colonial powers to stay with them as long as possible. The problem is, when colonial rule ends, you have the whole thing collapsing, right? And you have sometimes decades of hatred and animosity and pain and wounds and scars, that people are not just going to willing to forgive, they're going to say, Okay, let's do a truth and reconciliation committee like commission like Mandela did in South Africa, let's all hold hands sing Kumbaya, you know, we're talking about, you know, atrocities, children just tortured to death for decades and decades, people are not willing to just move on. But the result of that, which is that colonial powers did, in fact, so much more than where the board is, I know lots been written that Iraq shouldn't exist as that kind of a country it should be three countries and all that stuff, Sykes, Pico, more than anything. It's this element of the minority rule under colonial power, that when the colonial powers moved back, you created the you created the DNA of the current problems that you have. And that's true, throughout and by the way, that's even true for monarchies. Look at the Jordanian monarchy, look at the Saudi monarchy. They couldn't rule unless the house of Saud it was just one tribe, that no prayer until they got together with the Wahabis. But the unsent supported obviously by the British and later by the US. So you see this Faultline so when we talk about, you know, the importance of developing democracy there and democratic is the same kind of talk you hear you heard in Afghanistan for 20 years, you can't start there, you first have to undo these, either these problems, or you have to work with the scars that you have there and come up with different structures. For example, rotational governments with Parliament's that are more like council of elders representing tribes, with judicial systems within tribes, you have to start to think and this is what our foundations are, start to think a little bit differently, or else it's just a zero sum game, you have one group in power and everyone else out of power, whether it's a 20% of the population 40% doesn't really matter. And so this is what I mean, when we talk about Lebanon or Afghanistan or Syria, just to talk about in terms of well, was the pullback, you know, what do you think would happen at the airport, anything like that? It's tragic. Every death is tragic. And obviously, no one's happy with situation Afghanistan, but there are reasons for that, that even predate the last 20 years. And so either we not only talk about that, but sudden start to adjust our policy to take that into account. Or we really shouldn't be in those countries, really, in terms of non military. In other words, trying to rebuild countries if we really suck at it so bad because we can't take that into account and we really shouldn't be in that business. I mean, if you can do brain surgery, just not going to go to someone who really sucks. have brain surgery, right? So it's pretty plain.

Mark Valley  50:03

That's you know, I really thought about that dynamic, you know, the colonial minority, almost like fear security base Alliance. Right. And I mentioned that as

Daniel Levin  50:11

a rule of the rule in Syria. I mean, it's a tiny little marginal group. And by the way, dirt poor Hafez Al Assad was dirt poor, his mother, who had to go work for a Sunni family in Damascus is sort of semi sex slave semi domestic worker and so that's obviously something you never forgave Sunni population for. So there are reasons for this DNA. Same thing with Lebanon, trying to sort of play all the groups, the Sunni and the Shia has and, and the shifts which are dirt poor and softer with until Hezbollah gave them political power, the Christian Falange groups that committed the atrocities and sablan Shatila under some massage and those guys in the Gemayel family How do you end up with these kinds of groups having any power that's not a democratic kind of structure whatsoever, but you have to start rethinking it in a way that a country can be governed Lebanon's a failed state series obviously a failed state is destroyed but Lebanon is a failed state economically but also politically doesn't have political structures anymore that can deliver government service right governance to its people just doesn't have it. That's not the polemic statement. That's just a statement of fact,

Mark Valley  51:16

isn't how does corruption weigh in with that? I mean, I guess the colonials will turn a blind eye to the minority if they're, if they're corrupt, as long as they do doing what they want. I mean, there's a lot of different routes of corruption, but it seems like that would be one

Daniel Levin  51:29

and I think we, you know, we tend to, we tend to look at these things. So moralizing Lee, when we have our own roots of corruptions, I wrote a few episodes in my last book, nothing but a circus about, you know, someone in the State Department suggesting a major contribution to the Clinton Foundation when she was Secretary of State, how's that? Not corrupt? You know, right. You know, I mean, so so I'm not we shouldn't be really walking on pointing hands. I'll tell you an anecdote that my dad told me when I was a kid. And then I heard it again, from a Kenyan woman at the United Nations same anecdote, which is that in the 1950s, pre independence, an African East African student goes to Oxford and becomes best friends with the Southeast Asian students. The joke is based on the fact on the real fact that, at independence, Uganda, and Singapore had about the same GDP, right. And obviously, the country's evolved into very different directions since then. So that's the background. So the joke goes, they become best friends. So then they go back to their countries, the countries gained independence, they both become finance ministers, and a few years afterwards, the Uganda this East African visits his buddy in Southeast Asia, it looks out the streets, he's roads, hospitals, schools, supermarkets, everything, just amazed. He says, Man, this is just unbelievable. How do you guys do this? So as colleague says, it really wasn't that hard. Let's say I needed a new road. I've put out a tender, the Ministry of Finance put out a tender, some company got the bid, I got 10%. And the thing got built, and it was beautiful. So guy said, Man, that's great. I'm gonna keep that in mind. A few years later, his Southeast Asian friend visits him in his East African capital. And he looks out nothing but dirt, roads, open sewage, dirt, roads, just a mess. He looks around says, dude, we talked about this What happened? And the guy says, I don't know, I listened to you. I did what you did, we needed a new road, I put out a tender I took 100% from myself and nothing happened. To me, corruption is kind of a word that we always put in moralistic terms, I think that there's a reality of corruption, we can legislate into it blue in the face, it's a natural thing. If you don't pay a traffic cop, a living wage, a traffic cop is going to take a bribe for not giving you a ticket, that's just you have to change that at a completed you're not going to put this traffic cop into anti-corruption training, you've got to solve that problem elsewhere, right? So there's going to be in every country some degree of corruption, whether you know, spoiler alert, it's in Switzerland and Norway, just like it's in South Sudan, just different type of form. The key question is, Do I have enough of a functioning state enough living wages for policemen, for example, right? That I can keep that in a manageable bandwidth, in fact, perhaps even in a bandwidth that stimulates an economy and I'm not this is not a moral statements just again, one that works because I have to assume some corruption is going to be it's kind of like a pandemic discussion this, this is going to stay around? How do we deal with it in a way that we can function when it becomes endemic, right? Are we going to adjust a behavior or we're going to become a Darwinian species that's extinct? Right? So do we adjust to that, so to me, elements of corruption, especially you're giving people who may not have had power, a lot of power in whatever form whether it's in government and police and military corruption is going to be there. This is not you can't just tell him it's a bad thing to do. We've had the 10 commandments around for a long time. That doesn't mean they don't get violated every day. Some people violate all of them all the time. So it's not about legislating and then it's really about creating an institutional framework in a country that limits it to it to a range that is manageable. And and to me that's that's really the issue. So yeah, and you look at Afghan Then you look at a failed state, obviously, you can put trillions into it. absolutely huge amounts of those funds are just going to get embezzled, right. So you're literally giving money in cash to the ruling class, they're perpetuating the idea of revolutions and counter revolutions, because revolutions always devour their own children, right? So you're not really doing anything because what you've done is even not done is built the types of institutions that can actually provide a service to the citizens under whatever political system monarchies rotation systems, Republic's who cares for now, as long as the service is being provided, as long as you do have schools and you have, you have courts and you have, you know, sanitation, and hospitals, if you have that, you start to limit the range of corruption and access. And you can have a manageable structure. So that's when those things that you should always learn in politics, which is that the perfect is the enemy of the good. And you really should strive for the good. And that's what we should have done Afghanistan. Rather than say that, you know, we're going to have some kind of brand spanking new parliament under whatever model that's just silly.

Mark Valley  56:07

This has been really interesting, I thought we thought it was just going to be talking about, you know, kidnapping, and so forth. But this has been a fascinating geopolitical cultural discussion here. It's funny, I remember, I just remember I want to mention one thing I was in Kenya A few years ago, and I went to the market. And I learned pretty quickly there, if you want to buy something that you have to tell them what you want. And then you literally have to how much you're willing to pay, you bargain back and forth. At a certain point, you have to turn around and walk away, right, right like this, then they kind of call you back.

Daniel Levin  56:37

But it's a fine line. Because you also and you learn this in any market you can be in Kenya can be in Dubai doesn't really matter. But you have to also there's a fine line where you can't be insulting either, right? So what it is that you want and you're willing to pay can be insultingly low or become it can become really acrimonious. So figuring out that nuance where you're obviously not a sucker, you're overpaying where you let the other person know that you know that he knows that you know that he knows kind of thing. Yeah. And then willing to say, Hey, man, I'm happy to take my ball and go home, right? And then that's when what really happens is that's when the real negotiation starts. So it's kind of like, you have to do the foreplay, you have to make sure that everyone knows that you're hot, and then be done with the foreplay and say, and then the way you say, Okay, I'm done with foreplay is okay. See you later. And that's when that's when people sit down and say, okay, what's the real price? So it's kind of a it's, you know, it's like a mating ritual, essentially.

Mark Valley  57:30

Yeah. Hey, this is really great talking to you. I really appreciate it. Thanks for being on the live drop.

Daniel Levin  57:34

My pleasure. It was really fun talking to you. Wow, okay.

Mark Valley  57:37

Yeah, that was that was one of those episodes where I'm just really grateful to have a podcast as an excuse to have someone like Daniel Levin Come on, and just talk to me get to know him a little bit and teach me a lot about the world that I wasn't really aware of. Anyway, his book proof of life is out now you should check it out. And you can find out more about Daniel in the show notes, but his website is Daniel Levin. Author. com he has some other books and he also works for the Liechtenstein foundation for state governance. The links of that are in the show notes. If you're enjoying the show, I've got a one time Pay Pal you can pitch in if you want and a Patreon I'm going to have some exclusive content like transcripts for each one of the episodes. So if you can put in a little bit of money to be great, but if you can't, no worries, keep listening.