The Right Coast

March 15, 2004
 
Bernard Lewis on Iraq
By Mike Rappaport

Bernard Lewis was interviewed about Iraq in the Jerusalem Post. Here is an excerpt:

Can the US really take on countries directly responsible for terrorism?

I don't think that there's a need anymore for other wars. If the opposition isn't blocked, Iran is poised for a democratic revolution. As for the other countries involved in funding terrorism, I can imagine the collapse of corrupt minority regimes in crisis, ones which persecute and impoverish their citizens.


Do you have faith that, in spite of everything, democracy will prevail?

Saddam Hussein, a Ba'athist-minority dictator, was nourished by Nazism first and then by communism, both European totalitarian ideologies. If anything, the risk of not succeeding in dismantling these fragile Middle Eastern dictatorships today lies more in the history of the rapport between the Muslim and the Western worlds than it does in Muslim roots. Islam, which has been weak for two centuries, has always sought backing to help it fight the enemy - Western democracy. First it supported the Axis against the Allies, then the communists against the US: two disasters. Today it is seeking the protection of Europe against the US, which it sees as its principal enemy. And Europe is facing a difficult debate between those who want to accept that role and those who don't. Please, I have no intention of comparing Europe to Nazi Germany or the USSR, I'm only talking about the position in which the Arab world is trying to put the old continent.


How has America's war on terror affected the terrorists?

The war, which has set the entire Middle East in motion, threatens terrorism, and so it contributes to the terrorists' activating their defenses. You see, Iraq today could become a democracy in the middle of the Middle East. In the papers we may only read about terrorist attacks, but in reality Iraq is bustling with all kinds of movement - new newspapers, new local forms of self-government, young people signing up to be in the police or the army. Things are incomparably better than they were under Saddam. And we can proceed with caution, without rushing to carry out elections that would require local electoral lists, laws and structures that still need to be defined.