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From the Oslo Accords’ very beginnings, on September 1, 1993, Yasir Arafat reaffirmed that any “peace” agreements must be an intrinsic part of the PLO’s 1974 phased plan for Israel’s destruction: “The agreement will be a basis for an independent Palestinian state in accordance with the Palestinian National Council resolution issued in 1974…. The PNC resolution issued in 1974 calls for the establishment of a national authority on any part of Palestinian soil from which Israel withdraws or which is liberated…” Later, on May 29, 1994, Rashid Abu Shbak, a senior PA security official, remarked: “The light which has shone over Gaza and Jericho will also reach the Negev and the Galilee.”

The Arab world is comprised of 22 states of nearly five million square miles and 144 million people. The Islamic world contains 44 states with far more than one billion people. The Islamic states comprise an area more than 672 times the size of Israel. Israel, with a population of about 5 million Jews, is – together with Judea/Samaria and Gaza – less than half the size of San Bernardino County in California. The Sinai Desert alone, which Israel transferred to Egypt in the 1979 Treaty, is three times larger than the State of Israel.


For the most part, both Israeli and Arab proponents of “peace” feel that, for Israel, the Oslo agreements and Road Map represent a pretty good “bargain.” Ignoring the entire history of genocide against Jews that led to Israel’s statehood in the first place, they neglect to consider that this bargain involves nothing less than another Jewish Diaspora. But there is no more indefensible component of the pro-Peace Process argument than the one that goes something like this: The accommodation with the Palestinians opens the way to peace treaties with Syria and Lebanon, which, along with peace treaties already signed with Egypt and Jordan, will leave Israel in a state of peace with all its immediate neighbors for the first time.

Looking at (1) the aforementioned maps of Palestine (which incorporate the current State of Israel), (2) the extensive PA/PLO/Hamas violations of Oslo – especially the refusal even to abrogate a codification of genocidal intent – and (3) at the incessant Arab and Islamist calls for Jihad – is there any serious reason to believe that Israel’s enemies will now yield their overriding doctrinal and religious expectations to the diametrically opposite expectations of international law?

Regarding doctrinal and religious expectations, it will also be instructive to consider the following hadith, an Arabic term which refers to the oral tradition by means of which sayings or deeds attributed to the Prophet Mohammed have been handed down to Muslim believers: “Verily, the word of God teaches us, and we implicitly believe it, that for a Muslim to kill a Jew, or for him to be killed by a Jew, ensures him an immediate entry into Heaven and into the august presence of God Almighty.” Have Israeli supporters of the current Road Map forgotten that Sadat defended his 1979 Treaty with Israel in the Arab world by identifying it as no more than a needed tactical expedient?

President Sadat claimed unhesitatingly that his Treaty was “founded upon Islamic rules, because it arises from a position of strength, after the holy war and victory Egypt achieved on 10th Ramadan 1393″(October 1973). Significantly, the Treaty itself provides a legally permissible rationale for pertinent abrogation by Egypt. A minute to Article VI, paragraph 5, of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty stipulates: “It is agreed to by the Parties that there is no assertion that this Treaty prevails over other Treaties or agreements or that other Treaties or agreements prevail over this Treaty.”

The theme of Palestine as the grave of Israel and of the Jews in general, is a persistent leitmotif in Arab/Islamist orientations toward Israel. Consider the following 1982 claim, made by Dr. Yahya al-Rakhawi in Al-Akhbar, the organ of Egypt’s Liberal Party. (Similar claims are made widely today). “When the State of Israel was established and was recognized by many, in both East and West, one of the reasons for this recognition was the desire of the people in the East and West to get rid of as many as possible of the representatives of that human error known as the Jews. Behind this motive was another secret purpose: to concentrate them in one place, so that it would be easier to strike at the right moment.”

Certain of Israel’s Islamic enemies are now making preparations for exactly such a “strike.” Principal among these is the Islamic Republic of Iran. To assist in these openly genocidal preparations, an ongoing war of terror and attrition against the Jewish State is systematically laying the foundations for the planned war of annihilation. Although it may no longer be possible for Israel to prevent such a war entirely, a war that would surely involve various unconventional weapons, the governments of Israel and the United States may still diminish certain expected harms by immediately recalling the authentic history of Arab-Israeli conflict and by finally acknowledging the inevitably lethal consequences of their self-destructively asymmetrical diplomacy.

Earlier mention was made here of force multipliers. In military parlance, a force multiplier is a collection of related characteristics, other than weapons or force size that can make a military organization more effective. A representative force multiplier may be generalship; tactical surprise; tactical mobility; or command and control. Moreover, the presence of a force multiplier creates synergy. This means that the pertinent military asset or unit will be more effective than the mere sum of its weapons. With this in mind, and with considerable irony, Israel and the United States must now act quickly on force multipliers to achieve distinct operational advantages over adversaries of their own creation (“Palestine”) and of their own misconceived military largesse – that is, those assorted Arab states now ready to receive billions of dollars of advanced U.S. arms.

Both Israel and the U.S. can progress with regard to force multipliers by (1) first recognizing existing enemy force multipliers; (2) then challenging and undermining these identifiable enemy force multipliers; and (3) proceeding to develop and refine their own force multipliers. Regarding number (3), this means, inter alia, a heavy emphasis on air superiority, communications, intelligence and surprise. It may also mean, contrary to all codified and conventional wisdom in Jerusalem and Washington, a greatly heightened awareness of the benefits of appearing (at least on occasion) less than entirely rational. This seemingly odd and counter-intuitive strategic recommendation is itself very rational, as Israel’s battlefield tactics and associated order of battle have now become as devastatingly predictable (and therefore vulnerable) as United States war policy in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Barring a timely withdrawal of support from the Road Map, which now seems unlikely, another major Middle Eastern war is inevitable. The actual outcome of this critical war will be determined primarily by Israeli and American correlation of forces. Drawn from the military lexicon of the former Soviet Union, this concept is usefully understood as a genuinely comprehensive measure of armed force, all the way from subunit levels to major formations. It can also be used productively to compare resources and capabilities on both levels of operational military strategy and “grand strategy.” This meaning, incidentally, is closely related to the idea of “force ratios” that is still commonly used in Western armies and air forces.

Ultimately, a suitably improved Israeli and American correlation of forces must take careful account of all enemy leaders’ intentions as well as their capabilities. Such an accounting will be inherently more subjective than inventoried assessments of personnel, weapons and basic logistical data. To “work,” such an accounting must be subtle and nuanced, relying far less on fancy scientific modeling than upon carefully informed human profiles. Here it will not be enough to merely gather together masses of raw data from the various intelligence communities. It will also be necessary to put Israeli and American strategists “into the shoes” of pertinent enemy leaders, determining precisely what we look like to them. Of course, now that Washington has again determined to birth “Palestine,” that 23rd Arab state will also have to be included in the new operational equations.

The improved correlation of forces concept must take close and self-conscious account of enemy leaders’ rationality. Any adversary that does not conform to the rules of rational behavior in world politics might not be deterred by any Israeli or American threats, military or otherwise. Here, the logic of deterrence could be immobilized, and all bets would be off concerning expected enemy reactions to Israeli or U.S. policy positions. This point now pertains especially to a steadily nuclearizing Iran. There, Israel and the United States could soon find themselves confronting even a suicide bomber in macrocosm.

Israeli and American strategic assessments must now also consider the changing organization of enemy state units; their training standards; their morale; their reconnaissance capabilities; their battle experience; and their suitability and adaptability to the next battlefield. While these assessments are not exceedingly difficult to make on an individual or state-by-state basis, we will now need to conceptualize them together, in their entirety.

Our assessments must also consider the capabilities and intentions of assorted non-state enemies; that is, the whole configuration of anti-Israel/anti-American Jihadist terrorist/guerrilla groups. Such assessments must also involve more than a group-by-group consideration. Rather, the relevant groups must now be examined synergistically, in their holistic expression. They will need to be considered in their full interactive relationship with pertinent enemy states.

International law is not a suicide pact. In the end, while upgrading and codifying their appropriate deterrence postures, Jerusalem and Washington will have to acknowledge the stark limits of ballistic missile defense, preparing – in consideration of strategic eventualities that can’t simply be wished away – for law-enforcing expressions of preemption. Properly recognized in jurisprudence as anticipatory self-defense, such essential applications of military force could conceivably represent a last remaining barrier to mega-destruction, especially for tiny Israel. This overriding self-defense imperative would also be enlarged to the extent that enemy leaders (both state and sub-state) were presumed likely to depart from the ordinary rules of rationality in world politics. Looking over the visible landscape of extant and expected leadership in the Arab/Islamic world, such a seemingly extraordinary presumption may be entirely reasonable.

Copyright© The Jewish Press, December 14, 2007. All rights reserved.

LOUIS RENÉ BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) lectures and publishes widely on Israeli and US counter-terrorism and nuclear security policies. Chair of Project Daniel, he is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press, and the author of ten major books dealing with international relations and international law.


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Louis René Beres (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is Emeritus Professor of International Law at Purdue and the author of twelve books and several hundred articles on nuclear strategy and nuclear war. He was Chair of Project Daniel, which submitted its special report on Israel’s Strategic Future to former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, on January 16, 2003.