Of the many speakers at the “Stop Iran Rally” on July 22, 2015 in New York’s Times Square, the comments of Dr. Herbert London aroused the most enthusiastic response. His large frame encompasses a magnetic personality, and an incredible gift as a speaker. However, on a personal encounter, he reveals his gentle demeanor.
The 6’5” London played basketball for the Columbia University team, and was drafted by the Syracuse Nationals. He recorded several pop songs, achieving a hit record in 1959 with “Sorry, We're Not Going Steady.” Herb has been primarily an intellectual steeped in academic life. He was listed among the “outstanding intellectuals of the 21st Century.” Yet, he became a force to be reckoned with far beyond the Ivory Towers of academia.
Dr. Herbert London is currently the president of the London Center for Policy Research, and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute. He is the former president of the Hudson Institute. Herb is also professor emeritus and the former John M. Olin Professor of Humanities at New York University. He is responsible for creating the Gallatin School of Individualized Study in 1972, and was its dean until 1992. The school promotes the study of “great books and classic texts.”
Herb London graduated from Columbia University in 1960, and received his Ph.D. from New York University in 1966. London is also chairman of the National Association of Scholars and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
London believes in a better world for ordinary Americans. That is why he became a nominee of the Conservative party for Mayor of New York City and Governor of New York State. He is an author of a number of books, the latest being The BDS War against Israel.
Given Herb London’s global connections, and his involvement in framing foreign policy, this reporter addressed the following questions to him.
Joseph Puder (JP): Please tell us about the mission of the London Center for Policy Research. What are its goals, and how does it operate?
Herb London (HL): The London Center was organized to promote an independent, non-partisan analysis of “hot spots” on the globe and how to think strategically about them. In the areas where possible mitigation exits, the LCPR offers a variety of recommendations. Because of contacts cultivated in Washington, DC, the LCPR has established a regular seminar series on the Hill for staffers and elected officials, all designed to influence policy and future legislation.
JP: Millions of people from the Third World (mostly Muslims) will be flooding the West, especially Europe. What impact do you think this will have on the current Western democracies?
HL: Europe does not have a tradition of assimilation like the United States. As a consequence, minorities are generally not integrated into these societies. Separate communities, with separate conditions, and even separate laws within a host society is a recipe for tension and violence. Evidence for this can be found in every European nation. Malmo in Sweden, for example, the country’s third largest city, is organized as a Middle East Muslim community with imams determining who enters. Demographically, it is obvious a European population with a replacement level, on average of 1.5 and a Muslim replacement rate of 2.7 will result in significant political and attitudinal shifts in the next two decades rendering the continent an extension of Islamic positions to be.
JP: Who do you perceive to be a greater security threat, ISIS or the Islamic Republic of Iran?
HL: An Iran with nuclear weapons or a pathway to obtain them is a far more dangerous threat than ISIS. Moreover, Iran has created an empire of sorts with capitals in Damascus, Sanna, Bagdad, and Beirut. Should Iran obtain $150 billion with the lifting of sanctions, that money could be used to bolster its interests with Hezbollah, Hamas, and the Houthis. Using surrogates, the Iranians will likely extend their interests throughout the region with the prize being Saudi oil fields in the eastern part of the country which has a regional majority of Shia residents. Should Iran control Saudi and Iraqi oil along with its own deposits, it will control two-thirds of the world’s oil supply and be in a position to dictate oil prices.
ISIS is a relatively minor threat that has morphed into a formidable threat due to inaction and a hopelessly incompetent Iraqi military force. Using barbarism as a tactic, it has carved out a swath of territory in Iraq and Syria. If the U.S. were serious about launching a genuine attack against ISIS, it could be eliminated in a relatively short period.
JP: What alternatives to the nuclear deal with Iran would you propose?
HL: Iran should not have nuclear weapons, period. Any deal that allows for Iran to enrich uranium is a violation of the NPT (Non-Proliferation Treaty). That the U.S. and global powers have agreed to an arrangement that offers Iran a bridge to nuclear weapons is wrong and dangerous. It will set a notion nuclear proliferation in the region, thereby making the Middle East a tinderbox for explosion.
JP: Should Israel consider a preemptive strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities?
HL: A preemptive strike against Iran by Israel is fraught with complications, but an Iran with nuclear weapons, a delivery capacity and a motivation to destroy Israel leaves the Israeli government with very few alternatives. The choice is indeed existential. An attack will have consequences; blow back with many lives put in jeopardy. Hoping for the best, however, is not a policy since the very survival of Israel is at stake. Hence, I believe Israeli leaders must act to defend the state and its people which means it must make the difficult decision of attack. As Norman Podhoretz so eloquently put it, “fight a conventional war now or a nuclear war later.”
JP: How do you assess the performance of the Obama administration in the realm of foreign policy?
HL: From the outset of his presidency, Barak Obama made it clear that U.S. involvement in foreign activity leads inexorably to chaos. With that as the overarching assumption, the president engaged in a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq and a hasty departure from Afghanistan. He claims he ended both wars, but the fact is he extricated the U.S. from the wars, but the wars continue.
Since U.S. foreign policy is regarded as “undesirable,” he wants less of it. That explains his belief that American international positions should be channeled through the United Nations. It also explains why he submitted the P5+1 proposal with Iran to the Security Council before it was given to the Congress.
Although it is often foolhardy to attempt to read minds, the president has seemingly developed his own skewed version of the Iraq war and the role of President Bush and his advisers. As a consequence, all his foreign policy initiatives are based on the experience of the recent past, most specifically his understanding of it. Therefore, the military has been hollowed out and troop deployments abroad have been shrinking. Presumably, this will lead to a more peaceful world. However, empirical evidence suggests the opposite. The U.S. may not want to be the world’s policeman, but a world without a policeman is fraught with tension and potential war.
Articulate and deep thinking, Herb London is a voice worth hearing, and unlike other intellectuals who hide behind the ivory towers of academia to express nefarious ideas, Herb London never sought shelter from the real world.