Latest update: January 10th, 2013
Credo quia absurdum. “I believe because it is absurd.” Any Palestinian state would have an obviously injurious impact on American strategic interests, as well as on Israel’s sheer physical survival. After Palestine, Israel would require greater self-reliance in all existential military matters. In turn, such self-reliance would demand: (1) a more comprehensive and explicit nuclear strategy involving refined deterrence, preemption and war fighting capabilities; and (2) a corresponding and thoroughly updated conventional war strategy.
The birth of Palestine could affect these two interpenetrating strategies in several important ways. Immediately, it would enlarge Israel’s need for what military strategists call “escalation dominance,”that is, the capacity to fully control sequential moves toward greater destructiveness. By definition, as any Palestinian state would make Israel’s conventional capabilities far more complex and problematic, the IDF national command authority would now need to make the country’s still-implicit nuclear deterrent less ambiguous.
With a Palestinian state in place, a nuclear war could arrive in Israel not only as a “bolt-from-the-blue“ surprise missile attack, but also as a result, intended or inadvertent, of escalation. If an enemy state were to begin only conventional and/or biological attacks upon Israel, Jerusalem might respond, sooner or later, with fully nuclear reprisals. If this enemy state were to begin with solely conventional attacks upon Israel, Jerusalem’s conventional reprisals might still be met, in the uncertain strategic future, with enemy nuclear counter strikes.
For now, such scenarios could become possible only if a still-nuclearizing Iran were spared an Israeli and/or American preemptive attack. It follows that a genuinely persuasive Israeli conventional deterrent, at least to the extent that it would prevent enemy state conventional and/or biological attacks in the first place, could significantly reduce Israel’s risk of an escalatory exposure to nuclear war.
LOUIS RENÉ BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) lectures and publishes widely on Israeli security matters. He is the author of ten major books, and several hundred journal articles, on international relations and international law. The chair of Project Daniel in Israel, Professor Beres was born in Zürich, Switzerland, on August 31, 1945. He is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.
About the Author: Louis René Beres (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is professor of political science and international law at Purdue University and the author of many books and articles dealing with international relations and strategic studies.
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