Monday, February 05, 2007

Bernard Lewis

Bernard Lewis, Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University, a world authority on the history of Islam, shared his views on current events in the Middle East in an interview with the Jerusalem Post:

JP: "Does the Iranian regime believe that a military attack on its nuclear sites would strengthen it? Do they think that it can be avoided - that they can manage to keep the West from attacking them?"

Lewis: "My guess is that they do not expect to be attacked. Remember, they have no experience of the functioning of a free society. The sort of self-criticism and mutual criticism that we see as normal is beyond their understanding and totally outside their experience. What we see as free debate, they see as weakness and division and fear.

Therefore I think they have a very low estimate of the forces that oppose them, whether in the US or Israel or elsewhere. They expect to have it their way, whatever way they choose.

I have no doubt at all, and my Iranian friends and informants are unanimous on this, that Ahmadinejad means what he says, and that this is not, as some people have suggested, a trick or device. He really means it, he really believes it and that makes him all the more dangerous.
MAD, mutual assured destruction, [was effective] right through the Cold War. Both sides had nuclear weapons. Neither side used them, because both sides knew the other would retaliate in kind. This will not work with a religious fanatic. For him, mutual assured destruction is not a deterrent, it is an inducement. We know already that they do not give a damn about killing their own people in great numbers. We have seen it again and again.

In the final scenario, and this applies all the more strongly if they kill large numbers of their own people, they are doing them a favor. They are giving them a quick free pass to heaven and all its delights, the divine brothel in the skies. I find all that very alarming."

Professor Lewis sees some hopeful signs in the Middle East:

"The other encouraging sign, very faint and very distant, is of a genuine change of mood among people in some Arab countries. Talking to people in Arab countries in the last few years, some of those people express attitudes which I have never met before. I do not know how deep this goes and how strong it is, but it is there and it never was before. That is a good sign. ...

In Jordan, Israel television is widely watched and they get the message of how a free society works. I have heard that the same thing happens elsewhere but for technical reasons it is more difficult. As one fellow put it, it is amazing to watch these great and famous people banging the table and screaming at each other. They are used to people banging the table and screaming, but not at each other. They can get different points of view, but they have to tune in to different stations. The sort of free debate on Israel television and, even more striking, the fact that Arabs can denounce the Israeli government on Israeli television, that has an impact. I have heard people mention this again and again. It doesn't go unnoticed."

JP: "In your writings you have spoken of the feelings of humiliation and rage in the Muslim world. When will their rage subside, if at all?"

Lewis: "One way [for them] to alleviate their rage is to win some large victories. Which could happen. They seem to be about to take over Europe."

JP: ""About to take over Europe?" Do you have a time frame for that? It sounds pretty dramatic."

Lewis: "No, I can't give you the time frame, but I can give you the stages of the process: Immigration and democracy on their side, and a mood of what I can only call self-abasement on the European side - in the name of political correctness and multiculturalism, to surrender on any and every issue.

I was talking only the other day at the Herzliya conference with a German journalist. We were chatting informally over a cup of coffee. He was expressing his profound alarm at the mood of what he called self-abasement among the Germans at the present time. "We mustn't do anything to offend them. We must be nice to them. We must let them do things their way," and so on and so on and so on."

JP: "What does that mean for the Jewish communities of Europe, even in the short term?"

Lewis: "The outlook for the Jewish communities of Europe is dim."


Anonymous reno said...

Boy was this a worthless piece of conservative propaganda..

Wed Feb 07, 08:47:00 AM 2007  
Blogger Cerebralwaste said...


I dare you to back up your wild claim with some constructive matter pertaining to the facts of the article. Just how is this a "worthless piece of conservative propaganda.. " to use your OWN words. Refute it.

Thu Feb 08, 03:10:00 PM 2007  
Anonymous reno said...

There's a march on the Pentagon on March 17th. Be there or be square!!

Fri Feb 09, 08:53:00 AM 2007  
Blogger Tantor said...

I wouldn't miss it. It's pretty revealing that ANSWER and Al Qaeda share the same targets.

Sun Feb 11, 05:11:00 PM 2007  

Post a Comment

<< Home