From Eugene Jen comes a link to a dispiriting item by Bernard Lewis, who is perhaps the West’s preeminent scholar of the Islamic world. In this brief article Lewis gives us another good reason to be concerned about Iran’s pursuit of nuclear technology, namely that the idea of “mutual assured destruction” that has acted so far to prevent nations from engaging in nuclear war might be not a deterrent to the apocalyptically minded rulers of Iran, but an inducement. He even suggests that August 22nd might be a worrisome date, for historical reasons.

For someone as erudite and level-headed as Lewis to be making this point is unnerving, to say the least. Read the article here.


  1. MikeZ says

    I’m thinking “Yikes!” fits here. Is an “Operation Opera” redux plausible?

    – M

    Posted August 21, 2006 at 11:01 pm | Permalink
  2. Hi there Mac,
    I’d like to add a couple o’ cents to the views of this worrisome situation. The main point being that the war over who rules the Middle-East is a proxy war financed and armed by three governments run primarily for the benefit of the oil companies which support these three regimes. Hamas by Syria, Hezbollah by Iran and Israel by the USA. None of these combatants would have as easy a time making war without the support of their enablers…
    As a supporter of Zionism & the JDL (and the need for Israel to fight as hard as they can to survive)- I too have my bias in this fight, but one reason this war goes on is that the price of oil goes up when there is warfare in the region. Finding oil is no longer the business thrust of the oil companies – they have found that finding oil brings the price down, fomenting unrest brings the price up.
    “Why we Fight” is an insightful movie that illustrates this point very well.
    If we of the West can wean ourselves off of fossil fuels we can undermine the power of the Saudis and Iranians & Syrians who have gleaned more and more power each year for decades from our need to consume their product. Their one time petty power struggles are now the focus of world attention because they have what we consume so voraciously…And the oil companies are the winners, no one else.

    Posted August 22, 2006 at 2:58 pm | Permalink
  3. Malcolm says

    Hi Pat,

    There is no question that we bankroll many of our enemies, and the repressive governments that support them, by our thirst for oil. This point has been made again and again by Thomas Friedman, among many others, and I certainly agree – ending our addiction to oil would be one of the best foreign-policy moves we could possibly make.

    However, while there is admittedly a complex assortment of interests in play in the struggle for power in the Middle East, you seem to be echoing the simplistic and rather paranoid Angry Left assertion that “it’s all about the oil”, which surprises me, given how intelligent and independent-minded you are. There are cultural, historical, and religious dimensions to this struggle that would still make the area a powderkeg even without the fact of the world’s oil dependency (and make no mistake: as matters stand, a reliable supply of oil is utterly essential to the continuing operation of the world’s economy, and a global collapse would not be pretty). In particular, there is a festering resentment in the Islamic world over the failure of their empire in the face of Western advancement over the past few centuries, a humiliation of which the existence of the state of Israel, and its conspicuous prosperity, is a constant and rankling reminder. The apocalyptic mindset of the mullahs who run Iran (along with their gibbering puppet Ahmadinejad), has nothing whatsoever to do with oil.

    Posted August 22, 2006 at 7:19 pm | Permalink
  4. Malcolm, as usual I quite agree with your views… however, let’s not forget that it’s the presence of all that oil that (unfortunately) allows them the ‘luxury’ of thinking about their status in the world. S.

    Posted August 24, 2006 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

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