Weekly Commentary: What If Bernard Lewis Was Right About Nuclear Iran
Welcoming Apocalypse Rather Than Seeking Deterrence?
Dr. Aaron Lerner Date: 1 June 2023

“mutual assured destruction, the deterrent that worked so well during the
Cold War, would have no meaning. At the end of time, there will be general
destruction anyway. What will matter will be the final destination of the
dead — hell for the infidels, and heaven for the believers. For people with
this mindset, MAD is not a constraint; it is an inducement.”
Bernard Lewis – The Wall Street Journal Aug. 8, 2006

It would appear that the overwhelming majority of Israelis participating in
policy discussions relating to the Iranian nuclear challenge think that Iran
seeks nukes to protect their leadership from regime change.

Unfortunately, these policy makers and analysts simply cannot comprehend
that Iranian Twelvers could actually welcome an apocalypse set into motion
by an Iranian nuclear strike and the response that would follow. Without
saying it explicitly, they are arguing that there is some set of universal
values that has some kind of veto power over belief systems when adhering to
those beliefs can have unsavory results when judged by these “universal

This is not an inconsequential academic disagreement.

The attitude of policy makers and analysts towards the threat of a nuclear
Iran would be radically different if they thought that there was even a 25%
chance that Bernard Lewis is correct.

I daresay that if they gave Bernard Lewis the weight his opinion deserves
that we would have already “pulled the trigger” on a massive operation long
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