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Monday, February 25, 2008       Free Headline Alerts

Scholar: MAD doctrine does not apply to Iran

JERUSALEM — Iran could welcome a nuclear war with Israel or the United States.

A leading U.S. scholar on the Middle East has asserted that Iran's leadership does not resemble the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Bernard Lewis, a professor at Princeton University, said the mullah regime in Teheran believes that the Shi'ite messiah would be ushered by a nuclear war, Middle East Newsline reported.

"It's not an Arab country, but rather a Muslim country, ruled now by a Muslim theocracy, which calculates its policies not by Iranian national interests, but by what is good for Islam," Lewis said.

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"Iran's leadership comprises a group of extreme fanatical Muslims who believe that their messianic times have arrived," Lewis said. "This is quite dangerous. Though Russia and the U.S. both had nuclear weapons, it was clear that they would never use them because of MAD — mutual assured destruction. Each side knew it would be destroyed if it would attack the other."

"But with these people in Iran, mutually assured destruction is not a deterrent factor, but rather an inducement," Lewis said. "They feel that they can hasten the final messianic process. This is an extremely dangerous situation of which it is important to be aware."

In an address to the Jerusalem Conference on Feb. 20, Lewis, a longtime consultant to the U.S. and other Western governments, said Iran was working to assemble a nuclear weapon. He said Teheran regards a nuclear weapon as in the interest of Islam.

"It is actively pursuing nuclear power. Even a non-nuclear Iran is dangerous for Israel, and it must be carefully watched."

Lewis also warned of an erosion of Israeli democracy even while it continues to serve as a model for Arab states. He said Israeli parliamentarians are not held accountable for their policies.

"There is no direct election here, and therefore the representatives are not held accountable to anyone other than their party leaders and directorates," Lewis said. "In addition, minor splinter groups are granted more importance than they deserve proportionally, and the entire system encourages corruption."

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