August 8, 2006

Fortnight to Apocalypse: the Moslem Millennium

Hatched by Dafydd

Professor Bernard Lewis, who knows more about Islam than any other Westerner (and likely more than virtually any Moslem), paints a chilling portrait of Iranian MAD-ness in today's Wall Street Journal. Alas, it lies behind the iron subscription; but not to worry, Big Lizards shall tell you all you need to know about it. "Never first, always final!"

Professor Lewis contrasts the Soviets, India and Pakistan, and other fairly civilized countries -- nations with every intention of surviving beyond the lifespan of their current leaders -- with the apocalyptic and nihilist worldview of Iran. Against the former, the military concept of "mutual assured destruction," or MAD, actually deterred; the Soviets did not attack us with nukes, because they knew we would respond in kind, and both countries would be utterly annihilated. Thus, the aggressors were stymied in using their most potent weapons.

But Iran has no such fear -- for the Iranian leaders, from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei through the ruling mullahs down to President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, believe in an imminent Moslem millenarianism: that any day now, the final, momentous struggle between good and evil will culminate in armageddon.

A great battle will ensue, during which the forces of evil (that's us) will drive the faithful back and back. And as they teeter on the brink of oblivion, driven there by us "world devourers," as the late Ayatollah Khomeini called the infidels, that will trigger the return of the Twelfth Imam, the "Hidden Imam" whom Allah has hidden from the world until that moment arrives. This Muhammed al-Mahdi will personally lead the armies of Islam against the faithless (that is, everybody who isn't a Moslem), defeat and destroy them, and the entire world will be one shining Islamic crescent on a hill.

This version of apocalypse is, of course, no more silly than any other form of millenarianism. The difference is that this millennial group has an army, and air force, a missile force, and will soon have nuclear warheads to fulfill their eschatonian fantasies.

Earlier, I said the Iranian leaders believe this could happen "any day now;" but in fact, there is one date in particular that stands out, both because of historical significance within Islam and also because Ahmadinejad himself has made cryptic references to it: August 22nd by our calendar. In his dry, understated, British way, Prof. Lewis explains:

In Islam, as in Judaism and Christianity, there are certain beliefs concerning the cosmic struggle at the end of time -- Gog and Magog, anti-Christ, Armageddon, and for Shiite Muslims, the long awaited return of the Hidden Imam, ending in the final victory of the forces of good over evil, however these may be defined. Mr. Ahmadinejad and his followers clearly believe that this time is now, and that the terminal struggle has already begun and is indeed well advanced. It may even have a date, indicated by several references by the Iranian president to giving his final answer to the U.S. about nuclear development by Aug. 22. This was at first reported as "by the end of August," but Mr. Ahmadinejad's statement was more precise.

What is the significance of Aug. 22? This year, Aug. 22 corresponds, in the Islamic calendar, to the 27th day of the month of Rajab of the year 1427. This, by tradition, is the night when many Muslims commemorate the night flight of the prophet Muhammad on the winged horse Buraq, first to "the farthest mosque," usually identified with Jerusalem, and then to heaven and back (c.f., Koran XVII.1). This might well be deemed an appropriate date for the apocalyptic ending of Israel and if necessary of the world. It is far from certain that Mr. Ahmadinejad plans any such cataclysmic events precisely for Aug. 22. But it would be wise to bear the possibility in mind.

But what does this mean for us? The leaders of Iran (not necessarily the youthful Persian population) see war, not as a horrible event to be avoided, but rather as the natural state of this world: Islam divides the earth into two spheres, the ummah or "Moslemdom" (the abode of peace), and the sphere of the infidel, which is the abode of strife or war.

Nor do they see even catastrophic losses as defeat, for what matters to them is entirely what happens in the next world, not in this one. Back to Lewis:

In this context, 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.

That last sentence contains a variation on the line that Ralph Peters uses in nearly every column, but which appears to have originated with Cal Thomas:

While we argue about the place of God in U.S. society, our enemies are not so conflicted. They believe their god wants us dead. No amount of munitions, money and Marines is going to stay these fanatics from their ordained rounds. To them, death is victory. To us, it is tragedy. They are counting on us not wanting to die. They welcome death as a promotion. They believe we will cut and run if they can spill enough of our blood. We regard our blood as precious. They see theirs as the currency of martyrdom.

August 22nd is but a fortnight away; if the Iranians do not have nuclear weapons today, they will not have them in two weeks, either. But we know they have missiles capable of reaching Israel; and after all, nukes are not the only form that weapons of mass destruction can take.

Will Iran precipitate a conflagration, the final holocaust that will bring back the Hidden Imam and usher in the Moslem Millennium? Since we do not know, we must prepare for the worst: we must be ready with policy in case Iran directly attacks Israel on that date, thus widening a local war into a regional superwar... which could become a hyperwar -- call it the Tenth Crusade -- of Christendom (joined, perhaps, by Atheistan) against the Ummah.

We cannot allow ourselves to be sucker-punched again, as we were on September 11th. This time, we must make it clear that we're well aware of Iran's aspirations, and we're prepared to offer martyrdom to as many jihadis as want it, all to protect our own "abode."

Just a few minutes ago, Lt. Gen. Thomas McInerney (ret), speaking on Hugh Hewitt (which will be the Jed Babbin Show for the next two weeks... is Hugh hiding in the mountains until after August 22nd?), stated that the Israelis have finally decided, as Big Lizards predicted they would, to widen the war: they are sending in a lot more troops under the command of their "number two" directly under Danny Halutz -- by which I presume McInerney means Deputy Chief of the General Staff Moshe Kaplinsky -- with orders to occupy everything south of the Litani River.

McInerney also discussed the multinational force (MNF) that would be required to truly replace the Israelis as a buffer to keep Hezbollah far enough away that they could not restart the war as soon as they were tanned, rested, and ready to resume their march to the apocalypse. Such a force (he envisions French, Italian, and Turkish troops) would have to comprise:

  • One and a half to two divisions;
  • Enough cavalry (armor) to forcibly disarm, per UNSCR 1559, Hezbollah in despite of Iranian anti-tank missiles;
  • Air power;
  • A command and control structure of its own;
  • Rules of engagement that allow not simply defensive response but pursuit and maybe even pre-emptive attacks;
  • And a long committment... years and years.

McInerney recognizes the slim chance of such a force materializing; but he still says (and I agree) that Israel should not even consider withdrawing from Lebanon until either such a force is actually called into operation and ready to deploy... or until Hezbollah is annihilated in Lebanon.

In fact, Israel will have plenty of time: even if nations enough agree to participate in such an MNF, it will literally take months for it to come together, arm, train up, and actually assume positions. During this time, Israel must stay in southern Lebanon, else Hezbollah will flood right back to where they were, and the MNF could not assume its duties (they would be peace-keepers, not peace-makers).

But the first test might come in a scant two weeks; we may be only a fortnight from the "apocalypse." Let's hope not, but we'll know before the month is out.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, August 8, 2006, at the time of 5:59 PM

Trackback Pings

TrackBack URL for this hissing:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Fortnight to Apocalypse: the Moslem Millennium:

» Lewis on Iran’s August 22nd Surprise from In the Bullpen
Professor Bernard Lewis asks in the Opinion Journal what Iran has in store for August 22, 2006. This year, based upon the Islamic calendar not being the same as our calendar, August 22 coincides with August 27 which is the date in which Mohammed rose... [Read More]

Tracked on August 8, 2006 7:36 PM


The following hissed in response by: d_Brit

Here's a few things to consider Dafydd.

First, Aug. 22 and the Iranians announce the signing of a mutual 'protection' treaty with the Russians and Chinese...

The consequences of that would change the entire paradigm of the Middle East.

Second, there is a 'logic' to the eagerness with which some of the Mullah's anticipate Armaggedon.

Arguably and, within the context of their beliefs, their desire for confrontation with the west is entirely rational.

The most extreme of the Mullah's view western civilization as a mortal threat to their concept of Islam. They are perfectly correct in this view.

Western 'culture' is antithetical to the mullah's Islamic fundamentalism. The case can be made that Western culture is 'killing' Islamic 'culture'. Not out of animosity of course but simple incompatibility with the 'primitiveness' of certain aspects of Islam.

Can anyone seriously propose that Islam's repression of women can last as Islam becomes more and more inundated with western values? Especially if democracy spreads through the middle east?

Islam must change if the interaction with the West continues as before. The only hope Islamic fanatics have is for them to eliminate the Wests' culture. Simply put, they would rather die than see Islam change, for them, their personal death is far preferable to the alternative, the end of Islam as they know it.

The above hissed in response by: d_Brit [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 8, 2006 9:15 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dick E


It’s not the main topic of your post, of course, but there’s another reason why mutually assured destruction is no longer an effective deterrent: The whole world knows we’ll never pull the trigger!

When the enemy du jour was the Soviet Union, if they lobbed a nuke first, everyone knew we’d lob one back. And vice versa. The immediate, tit for tat response was expected -- and, indeed, accepted. That’s why MAD worked.

The problem today is that all our probable nuclear enemies (like Iran and North Korea) are small, second-rate powers. Underdogs. And their leaders are psychos. Fruitcakes.

So what happens if one of these nutballs sends a nuke our way and obliterates, say, San Francisco. Would we have the cajones to return the favor? No way, Josefina! (See? I’m finally picking up on the Big Lizards way of spicing up the trite.) We know (and so do they) that if we responded by wiping out Teheran or Pyongyang we would be seen by the world -- including the entire left wing here at home -- as genocidal monsters. The whole world would be appalled that we killed so many innocents who had no say in what their psychotic leaders did. (Well, the Iranians actually did elect their psychotic leader, but the intelligentsia would easily dismiss that bagatelle.) And what if we decided to take out another city or two for good measure (or to eliminate additional threats) -- can you say “disproportionate response”?

So MAD as a defense strategy is dead. At least as far as the USA is concerned. Now, if Khamenei hit Tel Aviv with WMD’s, I don’t think Israel would feel nearly as constrained as we. And more power to them! So I think your post is spot on when it comes to Iran vs. Israel.

So come August 22, our only hope may be for the Islamic man on the street to start believing the infamous Danish cartoon that told the martyrs to stop coming to meet Allah, because he’s running out of virgins.

By the way: millenarianism. Does that mean Khamenei used to run a hat shop? ;-)

The above hissed in response by: Dick E [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 8, 2006 11:29 PM

The following hissed in response by: Bill Faith

Excerpted and linked at Old War Dogs.

The above hissed in response by: Bill Faith [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 9, 2006 12:58 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Dick E:

Actually, I believe that if DPRK or Iran hit us with a nuke, we would without question respond with a nuclear barrage: "world opinion" would be trumped by the opinion of the American voter.

Remember the response after 9/11? There were numerous people saying even after that purely conventional attack that we should nuke Teheran or Kabul or even Mecca. Those who wouldn't escalate that far were still absolutely behind a massive invasion of Afghanistan; Bush had a 90%+ job-approval rating... and the use-of-force authorization vote in Congress had only a single dissenter, as I recall: Rep. Barbara Lee (D-UC Berkeley, 95%).

That means Dennis Kucinic voted for the war; Russell Feingold voted for the war; Teddy Kennedy voted for the war, and on and on.

If San Francisco or any other city were nuked, the percent of Americans demanding that we "return the favor" would be in excess of 90%. Any president who refused to do so would be impeached and removed from office within two or three weeks... and his replacement, sensing ruin, would send the nukes.


The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 9, 2006 1:53 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dick E


I certainly hope you are right.

More importantly, I hope Khamenei, Kim, et al are not as hopelessly naive as I.

The above hissed in response by: Dick E [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 9, 2006 2:56 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dick E

Then again, Khamenei, apparently thinks the heavenly supply of virgins is inexhaustible (i.e. deterrence is a nonstarter).

Let's just hope Israel takes him out before he does his worst.

The above hissed in response by: Dick E [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 9, 2006 3:57 AM

The following hissed in response by: Fenrisulven

Have to agree with Dick E. The West does not have the will to launch a counter-strike on the innocents in Tehran.

Another reason MAD is dead - imagine the Iranian Theocrats get a few battlefield nukes of the Russian black market and hand them over to Hezzie suicide-bombers. Nuclear "fingerprint" traces the residue back to Russia, and our intel re Iranian involvement is not a "slam dunk".

The above hissed in response by: Fenrisulven [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 9, 2006 4:32 AM

The following hissed in response by: jp phish

Rising Stars in the Midwest

Republican Dick DeVos is poised to beat Democrat governor Jennifer Granholm. He is ahead 4-6% in most polls and has the momentum. His lead includes union households, reminiscent of the Reagan Democrats.

Mike Bouchard has won the Republican primary for U.S. Senate, getting 60% of the vote, but big wins are nothing new to him. It occurred when he was elected sheriff, and when he previously was elected state senator. He is very popular throughout the state, has a reputation for being tough on crime, and is well-positioned on issues of border security and the GWOT.

Both DeVos and Bouchard are known to be no-nonsense, get-things-done, types; a joint campaign strategy will have a synergetic effect.

Expect to see both rise to national prominence.

The above hissed in response by: jp phish [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 9, 2006 6:01 AM

The following hissed in response by: Diffus

Don't ignore the domestic political ramifications. Can anyone doubt that, should a nuke be detonated in Denver or Tel Aviv be vaporized by an airburst, the shrieks and howls from the left about how completely and utterly Bush had failed and how it all would not have happened under a President Kerry or Gore would have done would be deafening and endless?

The above hissed in response by: Diffus [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 9, 2006 6:19 AM

The following hissed in response by: Big D

To imagine how Islam feels right now, imagine that your city is being taken over by...zombies. Now you have three choices. You can die and be zombie food, you can become a zombie yourself, or you can fight like hell using every conceivable weapon and probably die in the process.

Now, there is a logical argument to becoming a zombie. Go with the flow. Hey, at least you will still exist, in some fashion. But you, won't be you. And to most people it would be worse than death.

Western culture, western values, they are eating or converting traditional cultures all over the world. Some will not go quietly into the night. For Islam it really sucks, since, it was supposed to work the other way around. Islam was literally based on the doctrine of kill or convert. It is us who are supposed to be becoming more Islamic.

My prediction - Iran mines the Straight of Hormuz, shutting off the world's oil supply. They will fire chemical weapons at Israel. The Mahdi army in Iraq goes into all out attack. Terrorist strikes all over the world aided by Iranian diplomats. Maybe even Hugo Chavez will also turn down his taps to the U.S.

Don't worry. Iran will lose this thing, and lose very badly, but it will get ugly.

What Iran and their ilk keep forgetting is that the west is still fighting a largely moral war. What happens when we no longer care about harming innocent civilians? What happens when we go all out to win decisively? I'd say the war will be over very quickly once that happens.
The only question is how much will will tolerate before that happens.

People forget that when you waken the sleeping giant, he is usually pissed.

The above hissed in response by: Big D [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 9, 2006 9:59 AM

The following hissed in response by: Linh_My

The above hissed in response by: Big D at August 9, 2006 09:59 AM

People, especially People who have tremendous power do tend to go off the deep end. Lord Action's quote about absolute power and corruption in its full context is appropriate here. Wars aren't won by the smartest side. They are lost by the most stupid side.

If Iran is really as stupid as you suggest, we should win. Mu gut feeling is that they may be that stupid.

The above hissed in response by: Linh_My [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 9, 2006 12:17 PM

The following hissed in response by: nk

Sorry to disagree, Dafydd. Ahmadijenad may be living in the '70s -- the "we're not afraid to die" bluff worked with Carter -- but with the possible exception of the Nazis I know of no government in the history of the world whose first and foremost interest was not the collection of next year's taxes. The Gotterdammerungers (left out a couple of umlauts) are a very small minority as a result of natural selection.

The above hissed in response by: nk [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 9, 2006 1:32 PM

The following hissed in response by: nk

P.S. Which is also to say that I disagree with d Brit that the dachisti or new mandarins would ever risk their kleptocracies by going to war with us on behalf of Iran.

The above hissed in response by: nk [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 9, 2006 1:40 PM

The following hissed in response by: Linh_My

The above hissed in response by: nk at August 9, 2006 01:32 PM

" government in the history of the world whose first and foremost interest was not the collection of next year's taxes."

Well from the perspective of three tours in Viet Nam. The wartime government of North Viet Nam must have been on a planet that you didn't live on. From what my folks told me about WW II you didn't inhabit the same planet as WW II America.

Making money (collecting taxes) is all very well. First you got to live long enough to spend the $$.

What worries me is that despite (or perhaps because of) being Retired Military, a Viet Nam vet and a Combat vet I really don't like war or violence very much. I really despise the smell of rotting children's bodies. Unfortunately, when your Monki's and other Peace-nicks and Liberals do get riled up enough to fight they become despicably cruel.

I fear that between Peace Democrats and the Iranians general stupidity, the war against Terrorism like WW II will wind up killing hundreds of millions instead of the tens of thousands that a saner policy would kill.

The above hissed in response by: Linh_My [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 9, 2006 2:25 PM

The following hissed in response by: nk

Well, gee, Linh_My, I am named after a sixteen-year old uncle the Nazis murdered. Along with his brother and father. I excepted the Nazis from my theory. As for the Vietnamese, they are collecting the North's and the South's taxes these days. The North Vietnamese were never suicidal. They followed Patton's dictum to the letter: "No s.o.b. ever won a war by dying for his country. You win a war by making the other poor s.o.b. die for his country." And I thank you for your service. My point was that, even in Iran, the suicidal jerks who are in a hurry to meet Allah are a small minority and that the government is primarily interested in its own survival and perpetuation ("collecting next year's taxes" is a metaphor for "survival and perpetuation" not making money).

The above hissed in response by: nk [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 9, 2006 7:31 PM

The following hissed in response by: hunter

That would be the big surprise, the lighting of Jerusalem: The announcement on 22 August by Chin, Russia and Iran, that in light of wicked unfair Americans they are signing a joint protection and aid agreement: Any military attack on Iran wil be considered an attack on China & Russia. And by the way, Shiite Iraq belongs to Iran. And the Zionist entity must be Jew-free post haste.
And, just to be fully disclosed, NK and VZ are part of the deal as well.
And America must leave the Persian Gulf, now that we think about it.
What would we do?

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 9, 2006 9:01 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dick E


Thanks for your support, but, as I said above, I hope Dafydd is right. Actually, no one really knows which of us is right. And that, as I see it, is the problem.

During the Cold War, it was pretty much universally accepted that neither side would blink if the other side launched a nuclear war. Today there is at least some serious doubt about our reaction if attacked.

Of course, world opinion is far less important to whether we are at risk of a WMD attack than what runs through the fevered brains of Khamenei/Ahmadinejad and Kim. Do they believe the MAD concept still applies? Or do they choose to believe that they could nuke us without having to pay an unacceptable price?

With respect to Iran, MAD may well be irrelevant. If they truly have a death wish, maybe they want to be incinerated to hasten their ultimate, heavenly reward. Or the leaders may think this martyrdom business is OK for the masses but not necessarily for them, so they might choose to believe MAD is dead for reasons like those I outline above. Heck, even if they miscalculate and we really do respond with nukes, if they play their cards right it will just be those masses that get obliterated and therefore hailed as martyrs; the leaders will then be lionized as the ones who incited the infidels to create all those newly minted martyrs. (One wonders whether the surviving Iranians on the street would be quite so accepting of their leaders’ perfidy, but that’s another story.)

Kim, on the other hand, is presumably an atheistic communist with no expectation of an afterlife. Our best hope with him is that he still believes in MAD. Fortunately, he doesn‘t read Big Lizards, where he might start to doubt the MAD scenario because of the inane musings of yours truly. Uh … you don’t read Big Lizards, do you Jong-il, old boy?

The above hissed in response by: Dick E [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 9, 2006 9:11 PM

The following hissed in response by: Linh_My

The above hissed in response by: nk at August 9, 2006 07:31 PM

Perhaps I misunderstood your point.

My point is that the Government of North Viet Nam made substantial financial sacrifices to win the war. To me, South Viet Nam and America lost the Viet Nam War because we were looking at profit and loss. North Viet Nam won because they were interested in winning the war what ever the cost. I currently spend about half my time in Viet Nam and do have friends who were on the other side. So I can and do talk about the war with people who fought with Vietnamese forces on both sides.

What I find disturbing about the current War on Terrorism, is that from what I can see we are looking at profit and loss. The other side seems to be looking at victory at what ever cost. I consider that American involvement in this war started in 1802 when Pres. Jefferson first sent the Marines in to fight against what we would today call terrorists.

To the extent that you are accurate in your estimation of the motivation of Western governments including America's and inaccurate about the motivation of the terrorists and Iranian Government we are doomed to loose the war unless we change our attitude. I believe that you have judged the West accurately and the Terrorist incorrectly.

We were able to change our attitude in WW II. We were determined to win no matter what the cost. We burned entire cities to the ground with thousand bomber raids. My father flew 25 missions including some of these. We used all of the Atomic Bombs we had available. After the end of WW II we aggressively hunted down and killed the surviving dangerous enemy "true believers."

Again instead of killing a few tens of thousands we killed hundreds of millions because we waited till it was almost too late. I suspect that we are looking at the same scenario today

The above hissed in response by: Linh_My [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 10, 2006 5:23 AM

The following hissed in response by: nk

The above hissed in response by: nk [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 10, 2006 5:25 AM

The following hissed in response by: Big D

Ayatollah Khomeini "Either we all become free, or we will go to the greater freedom which is martyrdom. Either we shake one another's hands in joy at the victory of Islam in the world, or all of us will turn to eternal life and martyrdom. In both cases, victory and success are ours."

Just posted to clear up any misconcenptions. Dick E - there is no doubt that MAD is irrelevent here.

Don't know about your guys, but my vote is for Iranian martrydom.

The above hissed in response by: Big D [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 10, 2006 12:21 PM

The following hissed in response by: Linh_My

The following hissed in response by: nk

I may haveunderestimated the shortage of Gotterdammerungers.

The above hissed in response by: nk at August 10, 2006 05:25 AM

That is essentially what I've been saying. You sound like a decent sort of person. The problem is that there are too many people who are not.

The above hissed in response by: Linh_My [TypeKey Profile Page] at August 10, 2006 2:34 PM

Post a comment

Thanks for hissing in, . Now you can slither in with a comment, o wise. (sign out)

(If you haven't hissed a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Hang loose; don't shed your skin!)

Remember me unto the end of days?

© 2005-2009 by Dafydd ab Hugh - All Rights Reserved