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Map of the Heartland Theory, as published in “The Geographical Pivot of History” by Halford Mackinder in 1904. Credit: Geographical Journal Vol. 23, No. 4, April 1904

Schiller Institute founder Helga Zepp-LaRouche announced her October 31 webcast with these words:

The horror unfolding in Southwest Asia today is the Bernard Lewis Plan in action: the deliberate promotion of religious strife and bloodshed throughout the region to produce the most bestial on both sides.

For people laboring under the misconception that the current crisis is the result of enmity between Muslims and Jews, or that it is a battle over control of some real estate in Gaza and the West Bank, an understanding of the Bernard Lewis Plan is crucial, in order to place this conflict in its true global context.

What is the Bernard Lewis Plan? Long-time readers of EIR may be familiar with it; EIR first reported on it as early as 1978, and a major feature was published in 1992 under the title, “New Bernard Lewis Plan will carve up the Mideast.” Professor Bernard Lewis was a leading British intelligence operative and academic, who arrived on our shores in 1974 to take up joint positions at Princeton University and the Institute for Advanced Studies. He began to promote the idea among U.S. government circles that the spread of Islamic fundamentalism could weaken their opponents in the Cold War, by creating a zone of instability along the southern flanks of Russia and China (this was a further elaboration of what 19th century Empire strategists called the “Great Game.”)

Bernard Lewis built on Halford Mackinder’s Heartland Theory. He proposed to weaken the Soviet Union and China by funding Islamic freedom fighter formations on their periphery—a policy adopted by Zbigniew Brzezinski, Paul Wolfowitz, and Dick Cheney. Credit: EIRNS/Stuart Lewis

This plan was firmly rooted in the British doctrine of Geopolitics, which includes a cultish fixation on what geopolitical theoretician Sir Halford Mackinder (1861-1947) called the “Heartland,” which he located in the general neighborhood of Russia. Mackinder famously wrote,

Who rules East Europe commands the Heartland; Who rules the Heartland commands the World Island; Who rules the World Island commands the World.

This tactic was enthusiastically supported by National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, and other luminaries of the emerging neoconservative movement. Neocon think-tankers dubbed it the “Arc of Crisis.” It was Lewis, writing in the September 1990 issue of The Atlantic Monthly, who coined the phrase “A Clash of Civilizations,” another promotional slogan for the neocons.

Religious Fundamentalism as an Asset

The use of Islamic radicals as mercenaries had been pioneered in the 1950s by the British, who attempted to use the Muslim Brotherhood against Egypt’s nationalist president, Gamal Abdel Nasser. Under Lewis’ tutelage, the U.S. funded, trained, and armed the Mujahideen in Afghanistan during the 1980s, using them to harass the Russian military which had occupied that nation. After they succeeded in driving the Russians out, the Mujahideen soon morphed into groups such as al-Qaeda and ISIS, and began to commit acts of terrorism in Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Syria, and other countries, becoming a “Frankenstein’s monster” of sorts.

However, Lewis’ plan did not envision the controlled use of these elements. His objective was simply to create as much chaos as possible along the borders of Russia and China, to sabotage their development and ensure that no major power could emerge to challenge the hegemony of the Anglo-Americans. This approach was later re-branded as the “Wolfowitz Doctrine,” named for U.S. Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Paul Wolfowitz, who wrote in the Pentagon’s 1992 draft Defense Planning Guidance for the Fiscal Years 1994-1999:

Our first objective is to prevent the re-emergence of a new rival, either on the territory of the former Soviet Union or elsewhere, that poses a threat on the order of that posed formerly by the Soviet Union. This is a dominant consideration underlying the new regional defense strategy and requires that we endeavor to prevent any hostile power from dominating a region whose resources would, under consolidated control, be sufficient to generate global power.

The use of radical fundamentalists as a “berserker” force was also embraced by Israel’s currently ruling Likud party. As EIR reported in May 2002, the late Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was a seminal figure in the history of Hamas:

During his postings in the Likud governments during 1977-92, Sharon … played a pivotal role in the creation of Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group, which was formally founded in 1988. Under the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, an estimated 800 “licenses” were handed out to Palestinians, to create schools, infirmaries, food kitchens, and other social service programs. Sharon made sure that all these licenses were given to Islamists, many of whom would be Hamas founders, as a way of creating a “countergang” ruling structure to eventually supplant the power of the PLO inside the occupied territories.

The Likud wished to undermine the secular authority of the PLO, which in 1993 became a signatory to the Oslo Accords and would likely form the government in the mandated creation of a Palestinian state. The Likudniks were operating on the same assumptions that Bernard Lewis articulated in the Fall, 1992 edition of Foreign Affairs, where he wrote:

Most of the states of the Middle East are of recent and artificial construction and are vulnerable to such a process. If the central power is sufficiently weakened, there is no real civil society to hold the polity together, no real sense of common national identity or overriding allegiance to the nation-state. The state then disintegrates—as happened in Lebanon—into a chaos of squabbling, feuding, fighting sects, tribes, regions and parties.

This has remained the policy of the Likud as recently as 2019. The Israeli paper Ha’aretz, in an editorial titled “Testing Israel’s Democracy in Wartime,” quoted current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as saying to his party’s Knesset members,

Anyone who wants to thwart the establishment of a Palestinian state has to support bolstering Hamas and transferring money to Hamas.... This is part of our strategy.

Let us not forget that this is the same Netanyahu who is presently using the October 7 terror raid by Hamas as the ostensible justification for a war of annihilation against the civilian population of Gaza.

The horrific violence of the latest Israel-Gaza conflict is only the most recent manifestation of the Bernard Lewis Plan. Anglo-American intelligence assets have sparked conflicts throughout a huge swath of the Eurasian landmass, from as far west as Algeria, all the way east to the province of Xinjiang in western China (China’s successful defusing of the British-run destabilization of Xinjiang was the impetus for the neocon urban legend of Chinese “genocide” there.)

Two earlier EIR articles, the March 28, 1997 “‘Uighur Card’ Used To Break Up China” article and the June 9, 1995“Bernard Lewis Plan, Setting the ‘Arc of Crisis’ Aflame” article provide more in-depth history; the later article includes a map of 26 such sectarian conflicts.

Applying the Tactic Elsewhere

Although Bernard Lewis was billed as an “Islamicist,” and his professional expertise was centered on profiling and manipulating fundamentalist currents in the Islamic world, the Anglophile camp has applied his methodology to other cultures where fanatical, cult-like strata were available to be used as a battering ram against unwanted nation-states. One such example would be the case of Ukraine, where the neocon-infested Obama administration, guided by the odious Victoria Nuland, then Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, and now Deputy Secretary of State, utilized the remnants of the World War II-era Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists-Bandera (OUN-B), a pro-Nazi grouping which joined forces with Germany against Russia, to overthrow the democratically elected government of Ukraine in 2014 and to commence a brutal ethnic cleansing which lead inexorably to the current war with Russia.

It is certainly no coincidence that extremely dangerous wars are now raging simultaneously in Ukraine and Gaza. The Anglophile axis is watching its yearned-for “unipolar world” slip from its grasp, as the “global majority” has begun to assert itself under the rubric of the BRICS+ and kindred organizations. The Anglophiles, despite their ostentatious rhetoric about “democracy,” are not equipped to win the hearts and minds of the Global South; their Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, formerly known as “Build Back Better World,” has fallen flat, after being universally recognized as a cheap imitation of China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The only option left to them is to kick over the chessboard and use violence on a grand scale, in an attempt to herd the rest of the world back into line.

Awakening the Conscience of the World

The conscience of the world is awakening. Shown: A detail of a peace demonstration, one of many around the world, in which thousands of pro-Palestinian demonstrators flooded the streets of Berlin, Oct. 21, 2023. Credit: CC/Montecruz Foto

On Nov. 4, hundreds of thousands of people around the world demonstrated against Israel’s apartheid policy and its war on Gaza’s civilian population. Many also observed the 28th anniversary of the assassination of Israeli statesman and Prime Minister Itzhak Rabin, who famously said, on the occasion of the signing of the Oslo Accords:

If I raise my toast, I will raise it for those who have the courage to change axioms, to overcome prejudices, to change realities…. to all those who believe and support and are ready to assist the continuation of peace in the region. L’ ChaimL’ Chaim.

The spectacular demonstrations which took place, in locations as diverse as London, Indonesia, Washington, D.C., New Zealand, India, and South Africa, show that it is not too late to change axioms. These were the first expressions of anti-war activism on a grand scale since the period leading up to the Iraq War in 2003, and it is particularly significant that major protests took place at American university campuses, where for two decades student populations had been seemingly apathetic about the criminal foreign policy of the U.S. We should now expect a renewed effort to impose rigid censorship on social media, in an effort to stifle this activism. But the genie is out of the bottle.