Skip To Content
JEWISH. INDEPENDENT. NONPROFIT.
Back to Opinion

Iraq War ‘Godfather’ Opposes Iran Strike

The man once known as the intellectual godfather of the Iraq war opposes a military strike on Iran.

Bernard Lewis, 96, the British-born expert on the Middle East who enjoyed exceptionally close ties to the Bush administration, told the Forward at a gala dinner held in his honor last night that he didn’t support military action against Iran.

“I don’t think it’s the right answer,” he said.

Lewis said that he supported regime change in Iran, but that it should be achieved through U.S. support of an internal Iranian opposition.

“We should do what we can to help the Iranian opposition,” Lewis said. “We could do a lot to help them and we’re not doing a damn thing, as far as I know.”

Lewis, an emeritus professor in Princeton’s Near Eastern Studies program and a highly controversial figure in his field, has been characterized as having provided the intellectual framework for the justification of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq.

More recently, Lewis has claimed that he opposed the Iraq invasion at the time. Still, his name is indelibly linked to the foreign policy of the George W. Bush administration.

The gala was hosted by American Friends of Tel Aviv University.

Approached at his table during the dinner break at last night’s gala, where he was seated with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and New York Daily News owner Mortimer Zuckerman, Lewis took a relatively dovish line on Iran.

“Iran is a great nation with a long and glorious history,” Lewis told the Forward. “When we say things like Iran must not have nuclear weapons, imagine how an Iranian patriot would react to that. What we mean is the gang of genocidal maniacs who are now dishonoring the name of Iran must not have nuclear weapons. I think we should make it quite clear that our hostility is not against Iran but against, as I said, this gang who are dishonoring their name.”

Though he said that he didn’t think a military strike on Iran was the right answer, Lewis conceded: “it may come to that.”

Engage

Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.