Bernard Lewis's new book Notes on a Century : Reflections of a Middle East Historian was published ten days ago. "Replete with exceptional historical insight that one has come to expect from the word's foremost Islamic scholar" - THE WALL STREET JOURNAL.Actually, the book is replete with dry British humor and I could not stop laughing. However, it also discloses excerpts from the emails he had sent to Stephen Hadley, President Bush's National Security Advisor, but judging by the reviews this part (page 333) does not exist:
Particular importance should be attached to the policies, and perhaps still more the attitudes, of the present rulers of Iran, who seem to be preparing for a final apocalyptic battle between the forces of God [themselves] and of the Devil [ the Great Satan--the United States]. They see this as the final struggle of the End of Time and are therefore undeterred by any level of slaughter and destruction even among their own people . "Allah will know his own" is the phase commonly used, meaning that among the multiple victims God will recognize the Muslims and give them a quick pass to heaven.
In this context, the deterrent that worked so well during the Cold War, namely M.A.D. (Mutual Assured Destruction) , would have no meaning. At the End of Time, there will be general destruction anyway. What will matter is the final destination of the dead-- hell for the infidels, and the delights of heaven for the believers. For people with this mindset, M.A.D. is not a constraint; it is an inducement...
Of the four reviews of the book I've read in Tablet Magazine , Amazon , Wall Street Journal and The Chronicle , not one mentions Bernard Lewis's opinions on MAD and Iran. True, in a short review one cannot touch all the aspects of the book. But surely what the leading scholar of Islam in the West has to say about the most crucial threat facing humankind today is worth a comment? But the reviews completely ignore it . It is not that the reviewers of Notes on the Century disrespect Bernard Lewis. On the contrary. They are aware of his background , the languages he speaks , the width and depth of knowledge he possesses. The reviews are positive. Any yet, the reviewers do not know what to do with MAD. On the one hand here is a most erudite, respected scholar and on the other, he is saying such, to them, off the wall things no one else dares to mention. What to do? The best thing is to ignore it. Perhaps if someone else in the media would volunteer and bring up the topic, they would pinch in. No one in the main stream media does. So much for the information age we believe we live in.
Video: Bernard Lewis on MAD in March 2009: