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Friday, February 02, 2007

Bernard Lewis on Iran and Europe

The Jerusalem Post has a lengthy interview with Bernard Lewis, the pre-eminent scholar on Islam in the West, where he discusses Iran and Europe. The interview is fascinating and it runs six pages, so I am only going to give you the summary from the introduction. But you must read the whole thing. The main conclusions are:

1. Iran does not expect the West to attack them, even if they develop nuclear weapons.

2. The best way to overthrow the current Iranian government is by encouraging revolution and not by trying to force regime change.

3. The only question that remains about Europe is whether it will Islamic Europe or European Islam.

4. He believes that "sooner or later," the US or Israel will wake up and do something about Iran.

Here's part of the introduction:
For President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Iran, he noted dryly, the notion of mutual assured destruction, of certain devastation so immense as to have kept the United States and the Soviet Union from firing their missiles at each other through the Cold War, was "not a deterrent," but rather "an inducement." Given the apocalyptic messianism of Ahmadinejad and his supporters, "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."

He dismissed Europe in a few sentences, a continent doomed to Islamist domination by dint of its own "self-abasement... in the name of political correctness and multiculturalism." What did this mean for Europe's Jews? The future, he said without hesitation, was dim.

Nonetheless, Lewis, whose recent bestsellers have included What Went Wrong? The Clash between Islam and Modernity in the Middle East and the post-9/11 The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror, was not unremittingly bleak in outlook. He argued that Iran's goals could yet be thwarted, by encouraging the Iranian people to turn against their regime. "There is a level of discontent at home, which could be exploited," he said strikingly. "I do not think it would be too difficult to bring it to the point when the regime could be overthrown."

An Iranian-wrought holocaust was not impossible, he acknowledged. But more likely, he said, was that "sooner or later," we and our leaders would "awake from our slumbers."

Read it all.


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