TwitterFacebook

Lewis: Ahmadinejad Believes His Apocalyptic Language

• Views: 983

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: 2015-03-17 11:42 am PDT

LGF User's Guide
Recent Pages
EiMitch
Cracked: 5 Brainwashing Tricks That Work No Matter How Smart You Are
What's this? Another article on Cracked about how incorrigibly tribal-minded us homo sapiens are? Well, yes. But the proverbial devil is in the proverbial details. Proverbially. It's still worth reading. That's what I'm getting at. Everyone is talking about Scientology ...

1 hour, 37 minutes ago
Views: 38 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 0
Thanos
Bruce Schneier’s Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect Your Data and Control Your World
You are under surveillance right now. Your cell phone provider tracks your location and knows who's with you. Your online and in-store purchasing patterns are recorded, and reveal if you're unemployed, sick, or pregnant. Your e-mails and texts expose ...

6 hours, 41 minutes ago
Views: 63 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 0
Fred72
Are conservatives anti-science?
Are conservatives anti-science? Spoiler: Conservatives aren't anti-science or pro-science. But, they are pro-common-sense. And once more scientists adopt common sense approach to science, they'll find that they have the support of conservative politicians - the people whose job it is ...

2 days, 6 hours ago
Views: 639 • Comments: 25
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 3
Romantic Heretic
The Lavender Scare
Here is an interesting article on one of Tail Gunner Joe's sick witch hunts that has, unfortunately, been forgotten. I try not to feel schadenfreude of the fate of McCarthy's side kick, Ray Cohn, but I never succeed.

3 days, 16 hours ago
Views: 451 • Comments: 1
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 1
FemNaziBitch
Should Women ‘Man Up’ at the Office, or Does Office Culture Need to ‘Man Down’?
About the Graphic How should a woman try to get ahead in a male-dominated workplace? Perhaps the answer lies less on women "manning up" and more in how businesses value their employees. Many women confront this tension as they ...

4 days, 18 hours ago
Views: 788 • Comments: 1
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 1
William Barnett-Lewis
Orthopraxy Pt 2
If we accept the idea of Orthopraxy over Orthodoxy, then what does evangelism look like? What is the Witness of those who try to follow the Way of Christ Jesus? To evangelize is to spread the good news that we ...

5 days, 6 hours ago
Views: 507 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 4
thecommodore
Eric Alterman: A Wake-Up Call for US Liberals
A short column in The Nation that is a must read. The primary difference between liberalism and conservatism, at least in theory, is that the latter is an ideology and the former isn't. Conservatism, as Milton Friedman argued, posits that ...

5 days, 15 hours ago
Views: 728 • Comments: 0
Tweets: 1 • Rating: 5
Great White Snark
The NSA Has Taken Over the Internet Backbone. We’re Suing to Get It Back.
Blow off Snowden all you like, but what was revealed to be true is still true. The NSA lacks oversight with power. FISA is already too much and now they casually exceed even that generous provision. The world first learned ...

1 week ago
Views: 772 • Comments: 9
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 4
Lumberhead
Lead Prosecutor Apologizes, Admits Mistakes in Glenn Ford Case
This is a powerful admission of culpability and I applaud his courage in making it. It really should be read in its entirety. Glenn Ford should be completely compensated to every extent possible because of the flaws of a system ...

1 week, 3 days ago
Views: 935 • Comments: 4
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 8
Dark_Falcon
Sarah Vine of the DM gets it wrong on teaching about rape.
Sarah Vine of the DM gets it wrong: SARAH VINE: Teaching 11-year-olds about rape is a form of child abuse The problem with this country, I've come to realise, is that it treats adults like children and children like adults. ...

2 weeks, 4 days ago
Views: 1,601 • Comments: 6
Tweets: 0 • Rating: 9
 Frank says:

Is that a real poncho or a Sears poncho?