From Bernard Lewis, the premiere historian of the Islamic world, comes a sobering thought-we may not win the war on terror. Here’s a snippet from the NY Sun’s report on Lewis’s talk before the Hudson Institute:

The British-born professor of Near Eastern studies at Princeton said Monday that he was “more optimistic about the future of our struggle” in the early 1940s – when the French had capitulated to the Germans, when Stalin was Hitler’s ally, and when America was still neutral – than he is today.

“Hitler would have won under these conditions,” Mr. Lewis said, citing America’s inability to clearly define the war on terror and exactly who its enemy is. The professor, whose vision of the future of the Middle East and knowledge of Islam has guided President Bush’s foreign policy, also cited as challenges the multilateralism that hamstrings America’s ability to fight the war and the strong political opposition to policies designed to defeat the enemy, such as detaining terrorists without trial.

During the darkest days of the fight against Nazism, Mr. Lewis said, he “had no doubt that in the end we would triumph.” He does not “have that certitude now,” he said.

Mr. Lewis told the center-right think tank’s conference on the United Nations that he agrees with a former communist dissident and current Israeli parliamentarian, Natan Sharansky, that the only real solution to defeating radical Islam is to bring freedom to the Middle East. Either “we free them or they destroy us,” Mr. Lewis said.

Read the whole piece.