I'd like to make three geostrategic points in my few minutes, and I apologize in advance for having to leave, but the plane schedule is as it is.
The first point is that — and this has been said before, I'd like to reiterate it — that Iran is a far greater threat than ISIS, and we are making an extraordinary mistake in joining with the Iranians against ISIS. Need one point out that ISIS has perhaps $5 million a day in oil revenue and 15,000 troops and, granted, a dynamism, but that Iran is a powerful state of 75 million people, an oil revenue in the hundreds of millions of dollars, billions of dollars, and an army of 100,000s and, of course, a terror network and is building up their weapons? I would predict to you, ladies and gentleman, that ISIS, which appeared so suddenly, will disappear suddenly as well because it has so many enemies, it is so overextended, it is trying to do so much at the same time that it is going to collapse before very long and it is going to disappear as a state whereas Iran is going to be a longer lasting entity.
Let me also predict that the real importance of ISIS, Islamic State, ISIL, Daesh, call it what you will, lies not in this sizeable state that now exists between Bagdad and Turkey but rather in the resurrection of the idea of the caliphate. The last executive caliph with power was in the 940s — 940s, not 1940s — a long, long time ago. Yes, the institution of the caliphate continued until 1924, but it was meaningless. It was just a title. The actual caliphate, executive caliphate, disappeared over a millennium ago and then suddenly, this man who calls himself Caliphate Ibrahim resurrected it on June 29, 2014, and this has sent a frisson of excitement through the Muslim world, and this has created the notion of a feasible caliphate once again after having been gone for a millennium, and this is important.
I can well imagine other groups taking up this same standard and demanding that they be accepted as the caliphate. I can further imagine that states such as Turkey, Saudi Arabia and even Iran (in its own Shiite way) taking up the claim of caliphate and so this turns Islamist politics into an even more radical direction than it has been in the past and therefore is a very negative development, but that is an idea. So, the notion that the U.S. government should be working with Iran against ISIS is madness, just simple madness.
Iran is the ultimate enemy, which is my second point. Iran is, of course, the ultimate enemy today. The acquisition by Iranian leadership of nuclear weapons will not only change the Middle East but will change the world. Other tyrants have had nuclear weapons — think of Stalin and Mao — but there's something different about this group of tyrants in that they're thinking about the end of days. They're apocalyptically minded. They have ideas that, were they to deploy nuclear weapons, they would bring forward the days of the Mahdi, the Dajjal, and the other sequence of events leading to the Day of Resurrection, so they are even more dangerous.
Now, we could have a nice seminar extending for hours on whether they actually would deploy nuclear weapons or not, but I don't want to find out, and I suspect you don't either. It is absolutely imperative that they be stopped from doing that and that would not be easy because the Iranian leadership, like the North Korean leadership, is absolutely determined to get nuclear weapons and will pay whatever price is necessary. In North Korea it was mass starvation. In Iran, it will be economic deprivation and other problems, but they're going to go ahead; and while computer viruses and targeted assassinations and bombings, which have been taking place, will certainly slow things down, they cannot stop it. The only way to stop it is through use of force against the Iranian nuclear installations.
So, that I think is all pretty clear, but I'm going to go beyond that and say that when the happy day comes that the Islamic Revolution of Iran is overthrown — and that is a prospect that is real; we saw one run up toward it in June 2009 and it was suppressed, but it wasn't eliminated and there will be further attempts, and it is certain that one of these days, the Islamic Republic will collapse — when that happens, I suggest to you, the Iranian people who are sick of this ideological state will become quite friendly. Posts show that the overwhelming majority of Iranians hate their government and hate the Islam that their government is purveying. I think that Iranians will be good friends when that day comes.
In contrast, I think our great problem in the Middle East will be Turkey. Turkey, which is also a very substantial state of some 80 million people and which is in an important strategic location, has a real economy, an educated population. Turkey has approached Islamism – well, the Turkish leadership has approached Islamism — in a far more intelligent way than the Iranians. I call Khomeini, "Islamism 1.0," and Erdoğan, "Islamism 2.0." Khomeini used revolution and violence and so forth and his successor rules despotically, but Erdoğan, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the dominant figure of Turkish politics, is a far more clever figure who has won I think nine elections in 13 years of various sorts, parliamentary, referendum, presidential, has tripled the size of the economy and is a figure of enormous importance and popularity in the country. He has a very strong base. This is a not a despotism. Now, granted, over time, he's becoming increasingly authoritarian, autocratic, unpleasant, decisive, but he has won his place democratically, and he will last and his regime will last much longer than Khomeini's, and I believe as one looks at 10-20 years in the future, it will be Turkey, not Iran, that will be our great problem and that we should be preparing for that today.
And the final point is about the Palestinians. We have seen an upsurge in violence against Jewish Israelis. There's been more violence in the last month than the prior two years. There are many explanations for this. The collapse of the Kerry peace negotiations, the Hamas war on Israel this summer, the European acceptance of the so-called "Palestine," but I think there's a more profound point going on that one can see here, which is that since 1921, almost a century ago, with the appointment by the British high commissioner of Hajj Amin al-Husseini to the Muftiship of Jerusalem, the default position of the Palestinian leadership for these nearly 94 years has been rejectionism. That is to say, no acceptance of anything Zionist or Israeli, absolute rejection of the whole thing. Husseini was such a rejectionist that he actually influenced Hitler, recent research shows, towards the Final Solution. The Nazi solution was to push Jews out, but Husseini, as the potential recipient of Jews in Palestine, said no, kill them, and this is something that had an impact on the Nazi leadership.
So, that is the virulence of the Palestinian attitude towards Jews, Zionists and Israel. It was reflected by Yasser Arafat until he died almost ten years ago today, and since then, it is reflected by Mahmoud Abbas. It is the default position. Now, when in need, when weak, Palestinian leaders such as Arafat and Abbas have been accommodating. The Oslo Accord would be one good example, but when they're not in need, they revert back to this rejectionism, and of late in particular because the outside world says to both the Palestinian Authority and to Hamas, "We will reward you, no matter what you do. You can kill Jewish Israelis through missiles from Gaza or through car jihad in Jerusalem and you will not pay a price. We will give you money, we will give you arms, we will give you recognition. You don't have to worry about a thing."
As a result of getting this message that anything they do against Israel and Israelis is all right, the Palestinians have happily reverted to their rejectionist default position and that's what we're seeing today. So, I think the blame for this lies in Sweden, in the Obama administration, in the United Nations and elsewhere. It is we, the West, who are saying to the Palestinians, "Go ahead. There's no price to be paid. We might admonish you in some minor way, but we will reward you nonetheless for this." So as long as we, the outside world, say to the Palestinians go ahead, they will go ahead. They will do what they've been doing for nearly a century.
I see Jamie coming. I better stop. Thank you for coming.