Magazine
Latest Issue

The Lewis doctrine

The Iraq war was fought on a false premise about the roots of backwardness in the Arab world, provided by the influential American-based scholar Bernard Lewis. The alternative view—that Islam can be a help rather than a hindrance to the development of Arab democracy—will now be tested in Iraq

By Michael Hirsh   February 2005

America’s misreading of the Arab world—and our current misadventure in Iraq—may have really begun in 1950. That was the year a young University of London historian named Bernard Lewis visited Turkey for the first time. Lewis, who is today an imposing, white-haired sage known as the “doyen of middle eastern studies” in America, was then on a sabbatical. Granted access to the imperial Ottoman archives—the first westerner allowed in – Lewis recalled that he felt “rather like a child turned loose in a toy shop, or like an intruder in Ali Baba’s cave.” But what Lewis saw happening outside his…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to letters@prospect-magazine.co.uk

More From Prospect