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Bernard Lewis on Islamism, terrorism

May 13, 2007

On 7 March this year, addressing the American Enterprise Institute — you know, the organisation that befriended Ayaan Hirsi Ali — Bernard Lewis, the doyen of Western historians of Islam, had some interesting things to say:

Osama bin Laden, in some very interesting proclamations and declarations, has this to say about the war in Afghanistan which, you will remember, led to the defeat and retreat of the Red Army and the collapse of the Soviet Union. We tend to see that as a Western victory, more specifically an American victory, in the Cold War against the Soviets. For Osama bin Laden, it was nothing of the kind. It is a Muslim victory in a jihad. If one looks at what happened in Afghanistan and what followed, this is, I think one must say, a not implausible interpretation.

As Osama bin Laden saw it, Islam had reached the ultimate humiliation in this long struggle after World War I, when the last of the great Muslim empires–the Ottoman Empire–was broken up and most of its territories divided between the victorious allies; when the caliphate was suppressed and abolished, and the last caliph driven into exile. This seemed to be the lowest point in Muslim history. From there they went upwards.

….

This belief was confirmed in the 1990s when we saw one attack after another on American bases and installations with virtually no effective response of any kind–only angry words and expensive missiles dispatched to remote and uninhabited places. The lessons of Vietnam and Beirut were confirmed by Mogadishu. “Hit them, and they’ll run.” This was the perceived sequence leading up to 9/11. That attack was clearly intended to be the completion of the first sequence and the beginning of the new one, taking the war into the heart of the enemy camp.

Read the whole thing.

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5 comments

  1. Rob

    You shd read the excellent Theo Dalrymple article at the New English Review about the similarioties between Islamism and Marxism.

    btw – are you Australian?


  2. Me? Of course. Born English, but Australian now for years and years.


  3. are you currently living in Warsaw or Australia?


  4. Australia. But I’d like to be living in Ljubjlana.


  5. i see. will shoot you an email



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