ON-Lion Letter

"More than three years ago, revolts broke out in several Arab countries against their authoritarian regimes," begin Hillel Fradkin and Lewis Libby in a July article, "An Islamic Awakening?"  "The revolts were often dubbed variously as either the 'Arab Spring' or the 'Arab Awakening.'  Both phrases anticipated the establishment of democratic regimes in those countries."

Fradkin directs the Center on Islam, Democracy and the Future of the Muslim World at and Libby is senior vice president of the Hudson Institute in Washington, D.C.  The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation in Milwaukee supports their work.

"But almost immediately the leaders of the radical Shiite regime of the Islamic Republic of Iran rejected this terminology," according to Fradkin and Libby.  "It was to be sure an awakening but an 'Islamic Awakening.'  It was an awakening that represented the triumphant culmination of the 20th-century movement known as Islamism, often known as political Islam for its ambition to bring religion into a leading political role in the Muslim world and thereby revive Muslim political fortunes.  As such, it was an awakening that Tehran welcomed.  Indeed, they claimed that it was an awakening that Iran had itself inspired through its own revolution of 1979 and the radical Shiite Islamist regime that they had built.  Down to the present they have continued to advance that interpretation.

"Events since have partially confirmed the Iranian view, albeit in ways some of which they may not have anticipated and certainly cannot fully welcome," they continue.  "[A]t present the most dramatic and significant development to emerge from the Arab revolts has been the military success of the organization heretofore known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). ...

"[T]he great difficulty America faces in the new environment," they write, "is presently defined by the conflict between two terrorist and sectarian states," Iran and ISIL, both of which are implacably hostile to the US.  The victories of either against the other will not enhance American security and interests."

Fradkin and Libby then ask, "What is America to do?

"[T]he most immediate necessity is to avoid the temptation to side, even by default, with the Islamic Republic" of Iran, they answer.  "This temptation has been created by Iran’s denunciation of the Islamic State as terrorist and President Obama’s overwhelming focus on the fight against terrorism.  Terrorist the Islamic State surely is.  But unless this is our only interest in the Middle East, and perhaps even if it is, Iran presents a greater threat especially as it moves to acquire nuclear weapons."

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