Wednesday, November 10, 2004

There is an excellent piece in this month's Washington Monthly titled, "Bernard Lewis Revisited", by Michael Hirsh. It's a post-Iraq invasion look at the role historian Bernard Lewis' vision of Islam, the Middle East and democracy played in the foreign policy views of the Bush administration.

Lewis is a historian who has since his early years at the University of London been fascinated by and done a great deal of compelling work on the history of the Middle East. I have been trying to read his bestselling book, "What Went Wrong" for awhile now. Its a short book on the history of Islam and the Middle East and how it led to modern-day Islamic extremism. Most of the criticism of Lewis in Hirsh's piece I found in just the portion of the book I have read. Lewis views most of the modern muslim world through the prism of medieval history. The book itself reads as an endorsement for the top-down imposition of democracy approach that has been adopted by the Bush administration.

For those who have read Lewis, or wish to better understand the intellectual and historical underpinnings for the administrations' foreign policy positions in the Middle East, Hirsh's piece is an excellent starter.

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