Jews and justice can never be uttered in the same breath. So it is too for the Jewish State, always the individual Jew in macrocosm. Whether it wishes to acknowledge the existential danger or not, Israel’s only hope for survival now lies in a well-reasoned and coherent nuclear strategy for dealing with nuclearizing enemies.
Growing nuclear advancement in Iran carries serious risks especially for Israel. Well aware of this, Jerusalem’s political and military leadership is currently examining and updating all elements of its still undeclared and un-codified nuclear strategy. Any of Israel’s prospective nuclear adversaries will be more or less animated by a JIHAD-based version of Islam.
Israel’s own emerging nuclear strategy of survival (deterrence; defense; preemption) must therefore, be founded upon realistic assumptions of probable enemy aggression, including even outright enemy irrationality. An irrational nuclear adversary could well decide to operate against Israel as if the retaliatory consequences were of no importance. In this case, this enemy state would resemble an individual suicide bomber writ large.
There is also the related issue of a Palestinian state. If (following strong American support) a twenty-third Arab sovereignty is declared and established in the not-too-distant future, “Palestine” will become an optimal platform for future war and terrorism.
But the truly existential threat posed by this platform would require some antecedent forms of Israeli nuclear disarmament. Once a new enemy state and its allies believed that Israel had bent sufficiently to “nonproliferation” demands, the pertinent military strategy against Israel would likely progress from terror to mega-terror, from war to mega-war, from attrition to annihilation.
In this respect, any well-intentioned expression of Israeli de-nuclearization would represent the last nail in Israel’s coffin. Lest anyone think that Israeli unilateral nuclear disarmament is inconceivable, consider that certain of the country’s “leading” academic strategists continue to make this most odd recommendation.
For decent people everywhere, of course, it is very difficult to imagine nuclear weapons as anything other than evil by nature. Yet, there are certainly circumstances wherein a state’s possession of such weapons would be all that protects it from catastrophic war or genocide. And because such weapons may deter international aggression, their possession could also protect neighboring states (friends and foes) from war-related or even nuclear-inflicted harms. It follows that not all members of the Nuclear Club need be a menace.
Indeed, some may offer a distinct and indispensable benefit to world peace and security. This point should already be perfectly obvious to anyone who remembers the Cold War.
Should it ever be deprived of nuclear forces because of misunderstood hopes for peace, Israel would become vulnerable to overwhelming attacks from certain enemy states – most worrisome of all, Iran. Although such existential vulnerability might be prevented in principle by instituting parallel forms of chemical/biological weapons disarmament among these enemy states, such parallel steps would never actually take place.
Verification of compliance in these matters is exceedingly difficult. Such verification would be especially problematic where several Islamic states would be involved.
Nuclear weapons are not the problem. In the Middle East, the real problem is a far-reaching and essentially unreconstructed religious commitment to “excise the Jewish cancer.” Faced with this profoundly genocidal threat, Jerusalem must finally understand fully that the “Road Map” − like its stillborn Oslo predecessor − is little more than another enemy expedient. It is, in short, a nicely phrased stratagem designed to sound reasonable and lawful to the “international community” as it simultaneously weakens Israel for a modern Final Solution.
Contrary to the conventional wisdom, at least one Arab state that is now formally “at peace” with Israel remains effectively at war with the Jewish State. There can be little doubt that Egypt, should opportunities arise, would quickly revert to its traditional stance, joining enthusiastically in joint Arab/Islamic attacks against both Israeli population centers and military targets.
Syria, should it sometime sign a comparable peace agreement with Israel, would not hesitate to abrogate that agreement if Damascus felt the time were right for a gainful and doubtlessly collaborative final assault.
With nuclear weapons and a purposeful nuclear strategy, Israel could deter enemy unconventional attacks and most large conventional aggressions. With such weapons, Israel could also launch non-nuclear preemptive strikes against enemy state hard targets that threaten Israel’s annihilation.
Without these weapons, such acts of anticipatory self-defense would likely represent the onset of a much wider war because there could be no compelling threat of Israeli counter-retaliation. It follows that Israel’s nuclear weapons represent an indispensable impediment to the actual use of nuclear weapons and to the commencement of regional nuclear war.
As prime minister, Shimon Peres once expressed a peculiar willingness to “give up the atom” in exchange for “peace.” This misplaced strategic largesse was a good example of what international law professors call “naive legalism.”
Left to depend upon the hollow security guarantees of Israel’s mortal enemies, the Jewish State, de-nuclearized and incrementally dismembered by the contrived cartography of a Road Map, could not long survive.
Copyright, The Jewish Press, February 2, 2007. All rights reserved
LOUIS RENE BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is the author of many books and articles dealing with nuclear strategy and nuclear war, and is Chair of Project Daniel. Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press, he lectures widely in this country, Europe and the Middle East about Israel’s military survival options.