TwitterFacebook

Lewis: Ahmadinejad Believes His Apocalyptic Language

• Views: 1,016

At a recent event at the Pew Forum, Professor Bernard Lewis answers a question about Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad: Islam and the West: A Conversation with Bernard Lewis.

JAY TOLSON, U.S. NEWS AND WORLD REPORT: Professor Lewis, you mention a fascinating fact, which is how effective Osama bin Laden’s talk was, arguably, in drawing the U.S. into a response that, in some ways, as you say, has worked out as an unhappy case of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. I wonder what the parallels might be with Ahmadinejad’s current posture toward the West, and particularly that very similar style of taunting. I would like to get into a lot of other things with you about Ahmadinejad as well, but I will just limit myself to that.

Do you think that that represents something new, particularly within the Iranian context, a Persian context, of, in a way, speaking for the larger Islamic world, or do you think Ahmadinejad is simply a cunning opportunist using religion to solidify his Iranian political base? Or, is he actually trying to compete on the pan-Islamic level with Osama bin Laden, and in fact using the very successful tactic, I would say, or strategy, of Osama bin Laden, of taunting the great Satan who, so far, has proved very ineffective in responding?

MR. LEWIS: I am inclined to believe in the sincerity of Ahmadinejad. I think that he really believes the apocalyptic language that he is using. Remember that Muslims, like Christians and Jews, have a sort of end-of-time scenario in which a Messianic figure will appear. In their case, in the case of the Shiites, the hidden imam who will emerge from hiding, who will fight against the powers of evil, the anti-Christ in Christianity, Gog and Magog in Judaism, and the Dajjal in Islam, a role in which we are being cast now. And he really seems to believe that the apocalyptic age has come, that this is the final struggle that will lead to the final victory and the establishment of the kingdom of heaven on earth.

Others in the ruling establishment in Iran may share this belief. I am inclined to think that most of them are probably more cynical and regard it as a useful distraction from their domestic problems and also a useful weapon in their external relations, because he has been doing very well and he seems to be succeeding, for example, on the question of nuclear weapons. And every time they make an advance, we move the point at which we won’t tolerate it anymore, and this has happened again and again. Each time, we say, the next step we will not allow. We have shown ourselves to be, shall we say, remarkably adaptable in this respect, and this is no way to win friends and influence people.

I think that the way that Ahmadinejad is talking now shows quite clearly his contempt for the Western world in general and the United States in particular. They feel they are dealing with, as Osama bin Laden put it, an effete, degenerate, pampered enemy incapable of real resistance. And they are proceeding on that assumption. Remember that they have no understanding or experience of the free debate of an open society. Where we see free debate and criticism, they see fear, weakness and division; they proceed accordingly, and every day brings new evidence of that from Iran.

I think it is a dangerous situation. And my only hope is that they are not right in their interpretation of the Western world. I have often thought in recently years of World War II — you were told earlier that I’m ancient myself. The most vividly remembered year of my life was the year 1940. And more recently I have been thinking of 1938 rather than of 1940. We seem to be in the mode of Chamberlain and Munich rather than of Churchill.

^ back to top ^

TwitterFacebook

Turn off all ads for a full year by subscribing!
Take advantage of our yearly subscription, and save 50% off the normal subscription price! One-year ad-free subscriptions are just $59.95. Turn off all ads for a full year by subscribing now and save!
Read more...

► LGF Headlines

  • Loading...

► Tweeted Articles

  • Loading...

► Tweeted Pages

  • Loading...

► Top 10 Comments

  • Loading...

► Bottom Comments

  • Loading...

► Recent Comments

  • Loading...

► Tools/Info

► Tag Cloud

► Contact

You must have Javascript enabled to use the contact form.
Your email:

Subject:

Message:


Messages may be published unless you request otherwise.
Tech Note:
Using the Contact Form
LGF Pages

This button leads to the main index of LGF Pages, our user-submitted articles. You can post your own LGF Pages simply by registering a free account with us.

Create a Page

This is the LGF Pages posting bookmarklet. To use it, drag this button to your browser's bookmark bar, and title it 'LGF Pages' (or whatever you like). Then browse to a site you want to post, select some text on the page to use for a quote, click the bookmarklet, and the Pages posting window will appear with the title, text, and any embedded video or audio files already filled in, ready to go.

Or... you can just click this button to open the Pages posting window right away.

Last updated: 2015-04-18 5:26 pm PDT

LGF User's Guide
Recent Pages
jhncsy
How America’s First Female Detective Helped Foil An Assassination Plot
If reading The Bourne Identity and watching Burn Notice has taught me anything, it's that spies need to blend in. Kate Warne was a master at this: The novelty of a female detective in those days meant Warne was able ...

12 hours, 26 minutes ago
Views: 156 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 1
Charles Johnson
The Tea Party’s Most Hated Presidential Hopeful? Hint: Not Hillary Clinton
The tea party hates South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, and the feeling is mutual. It attacked the Republican lawmaker mercilessly during his Senate reelection campaign in 2014, but Graham held his seat with 55 percent of the vote. "Kicking ...

14 hours, 27 minutes ago
Views: 407 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 70 • Rating: 5
Thanos
Advanced LIGO Facility Hits Milestone in Hunt for Gravitational Waves
After seven years of upgrades, the Advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational Wave Observatories were dedicated on Tuesday at the LIGO Hanford facility near Richland, Washington. The facilities are located amid the tumbleweeds of southeastern Washington and the pines of southeastern ...

1 day, 5 hours ago
Views: 265 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 12 • Rating: 1
Great White Snark
A Racing Legend on Mastering America’s Greatest Track
WIRED: I hadn't seen cars run at the Speedway before yesterday. One thing that struck me about this place was how much of the magic and the weird old speed temple vibe you don't get over television. Does it ...

1 day, 13 hours ago
Views: 225 • Comments: 1
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 0
FemNaziBitch
Lawmakers Back Broader Access to Contraceptives for Women in the Military
WASHINGTON -- Both houses of Congress are moving to guarantee greater access to contraceptives for women in the military, actions that lawmakers say are prompted in part by concern about unplanned pregnancies in the armed forces. The annual defense ...

1 day, 17 hours ago
Views: 243 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 1
CriticalDragon1177
The Independent - New health minister opposed to abortion urged to reconsider stance
The United States isn't the only western nation where some people want to restrict access to abortion. It sounds like certain British politicians would want to limit when, where, and how a women can get one, assuming they wouldn't like ...

6 days, 12 hours ago
Views: 573 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 6 • Rating: 2
Cheechako
Wood Bison Adjusting to New Life in the Alaska Wilderness
Megan EdgeAlaska Dispatch NewsMay 12, 2015 Nearly a hundred wood bison roaming free in the area of the Lower Innoko and Yukon rivers are adjusting after being released into the wild last month, according to the Alaska Department of Fish ...

1 week, 2 days ago
Views: 521 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 2 • Rating: 6
Uraniabce
Omar Khadr walks free on bail after 13 years in custody
After 13 years of incarceration, after torture and abuse, after being abandoned by his own government, Omar Khadr is finally freed. "Mr. Khadr you're free to go," Alberta judge says in denying Ottawa its emergency motion. Ottawa condemns the release ...

2 weeks ago
Views: 959 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 32 • Rating: 2
Romantic Heretic
The United States of Amnesia
My news aggregator found this interesting article about how the US has no history. Which brings this cartoon to mind.

2 weeks, 6 days ago
Views: 1,153 • Comments: 2
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 3
 Frank says:

If it sounds GOOD to YOU, it's bitchen; and if it sounds BAD to YOU, it's shitty.