Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Two Views on Iran: Religious/Historical & Political/Secular--Which is Correct? You Decide

A very insightful interview with Princeton Professor Dr. Bernard Lewis (w/summary quotes at Hugh Hewitt) gives valuable background for understanding the Muslim world in general and Iran in particular. The conclusions are not encouraging. Excerpt:
We think of the defeat and collapse of the Soviet Union as a Western victory in the Cold War, and some of us credit President Reagan more particularly with that victory. For Osama bin Laden and his followers, this was a Muslim victory in the jihad. And if one looks at what actually happened, this is not an implausible interpretation. It was, after all, the Taliban in Afghanistan that drove the Red Army to defeat and collapse. And, as he put it, "We have now dealt successfully with the more deadly, the more dangerous of the two infidel powers. Dealing with the soft, pampered, and degenerate Americans will be easy."

In order to understand what is going on, one has to see the ongoing struggle within this larger perspective of the millennial struggle between the rival religions now, according to this view, in its final phase.

Let us turn to the Shi'a equivalent of this through the Iranian revolution . . .
On the other hand we have this exquisitely written description of an Iran blowing hot air, bluffing its way to power even as it begins to collapse from within. For J.R. Dunn and The American Thinker the best response to Iran is . . . to do nothing and let Iran hang itself on its own rope. Excerpt:
So what are they up to? Readers of this site will not be unaware of the contention that the entire business is a bluff, one designed to repel international interference until a nuclear weapon is in hand and Iran can move up a weight class into regional superpower status. But recent developments have raised yet another possibility: Iran may also be hoping to deliver a stinging humiliation to the U.S. without a shot being fired.
So, pretend you are the Bush administration. What would YOU do! (Besides pray, that is . . .)

Personally, I would like to believe that the second analysis is correct but prudence and reason both demand that I be inclined to that given by Dr. Lewis.