web analytics
October 2, 2014 / 8 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Global Denuclearization And Israel’s Survival (Second of Four Parts)


Beres-Louis-Rene

6. As only a distinctly last resort, Israel needs nuclear weapons for nuclear war fighting. Although in the best of all possible worlds this residual need will never have to arise, and although Israel should always do everything possible to avoid any such use (Project Daniel made this avoidance a major point in its final report, “Israel’s Strategic Future,” presented to former then-Prime Minister Sharon in 2003), it still cannot be ruled out altogether. Rather, Israeli planners and decision-makers who could possibly find themselves in a dire situation of “no alternative” must take it seriously.

Among the possible and more or less probable paths to nuclear war fighting are the following: enemy nuclear first-strikes against Israel; enemy non-nuclear first-strikes against Israel that elicit Israeli nuclear reprisals, either immediately or via incremental escalation processes; Israeli nuclear preemptions against enemy states with nuclear assets; Israeli non-nuclear preemptions against enemy states with nuclear assets that elicit enemy nuclear reprisals, either immediately or via incremental escalation processes.

Other pertinent paths to nuclear war fighting might include accidental/unintentional/inadvertent nuclear attacks among Israel and regional enemy states, and even the escalatory consequences of nuclear terrorism against the Jewish State.

As long as it can be assumed that Israel is determined to endure, there are conditions where Jerusalem could resort to nuclear war fighting. This holds true if: (a) enemy first-strikes against Israel would not destroy Israel’s second-strike nuclear capability; (b) enemy retaliations for Israeli conventional preemption would not destroy Israel’s nuclear counter-retaliatory capability; (c) Israeli preemptive strikes involving nuclear weapons would not destroy enemy second-strike nuclear capabilities; and (d) Israeli retaliation for enemy conventional first-strikes would not destroy enemy nuclear counter-retaliatory capabilities.

It follows, from the standpoint of Israel’s nuclear requirements, that Jerusalem should prepare to do what is needed to ensure the likelihood of (a) and (b) above, and the unlikelihood of (c) and (d).

7. Israel needs nuclear weapons for the also residual “Samson Option.” Although any such use of nuclear weapons, by definition, would be profoundly catastrophic, Israel is apt to reason that it would be better to “die with the Philistines” than to die alone. This sort of understanding is much more than a matter of Jewish honor, and also much more than a refutation of the so-called Masada complex (suicide without punishment of the aggressor). It could (depending upon awareness by enemy states) represent an integral and indispensable element of Israel’s nuclear deterrent.

Moreover, the biblical analogy is somewhat misleading. Samson chose suicide by pushing apart the temple pillars, whereas Israel, using nuclear weapons as a last resort, would not be choosing – or even necessarily committing – “suicide.” For states, the criteria of “life” and “death” are hardly as clear-cut as they are for individual persons.

Finally, it is essential that Israel’s leaders, in considering possible uses of nuclear weapons, regard the Samson Option as one to be precluded by correct resort to all other nuclear options. Stated differently, a resort to the Samson Option by Israel would imply the complete failure of all other options, and of the failure of its nuclear weapons to provide essential national security.

Deterrence Options

We have seen that Israel needs nuclear weapons, among other purposes, to deter large conventional attacks, and all levels of unconventional attack by enemy states. Yet the effectiveness of nuclear weapons in meeting these needs is limited and exceedingly problematic. Even if the country should move toward partial or full disclosure of its nuclear weapons, Israel cannot reasonably rely entirely upon nuclear deterrence for survival. This should be apparent to anyone who has watched the continuing unfolding and expansion of Iran’s expressly genocidal intentions.

Aware of these limitations, Israel must nonetheless seek to strengthen nuclear deterrence such that an enemy state will always calculate that a first-strike upon the Jewish State would be irrational. This means taking steps to convince the enemy state that the costs of such a strike will always exceed the benefits. To accomplish this important objective, Israel must convince prospective attackers that it maintains both the willingness and the capacity to retaliate with nuclear weapons.

Where a rational enemy state considering an attack on Israel would be unconvinced about either one or both of these essential components of nuclear deterrence, it might still choose to strike first, depending, of course, upon the particular value or utility it places upon the expected outcomes of such an attack.

Regarding willingness, even if Jerusalem were prepared to respond to certain attacks with nuclear reprisals, any enemy failure to recognize such preparedness could still provoke an attack upon Israel. Here, misperception and/or errors in information could immobilize Israeli nuclear deterrence. It is also conceivable that Jerusalem would, in fact, lack willingness to retaliate, and that enemy decision-makers perceived this lack correctly. In this perilous case, Israeli nuclear deterrence would be immobilized not because of any “confused signals” but rather because of certain specific Israeli intelligence and/or policy failures.

About the Author: Louis René Beres, strategic and military affairs columnist for The Jewish Press, is professor of Political Science at Purdue University. Educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), he lectures and publishes widely on international relations and international law and is the author of ten major books in the field. In Israel, Professor Beres was chair of Project Daniel.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Global Denuclearization And Israel’s Survival (Second of Four Parts)”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Tapuach Junction. (archive)
Border Police Stop Terrorists at Tapuach Junction
Latest Indepth Stories
Schulman-100314-Magen-Yeladim

An issue of grave concern, Debbie shares, is the rising rate of abuse between older and younger children.

Ben Cohen

The coalition the US has assembled to fight ISIS is based on an immediate coincidence of interest.

Jews out of Silwan!

Would Obama stand for a housing policy that barred blacks from living in Washington, DC?

Jonah and the Whale (2012) 23 x 23, bronze relief by Lynda Caspe.

God will accept repentance, even if it is mostly for ulterior motives and likely not to last.

if her son remained non-responsive she would place honey on his lips on Rosh Hashanah so that he might realize it was the chag.

Soldiers at various hospitals complained that they experienced hostility from Arab hospital staff.

“We have succeeded in raising an ideological generation that loves death like our enemies love life”

There is not even a hint of recognition that Hamas deliberately fires rockets at civilian targets in Israel while storing arms and rocket launchers among its own civilians in Gaza.

No one with any sanity would dream of rationalizing or justifying the depredations perpetrated on the Arab world by ISIS.

With $2 billion on hand the Islamic State is an extremely well-funded terrorist group that may pose a major international crisis for the U.S. and the world. Learn about their rise to power and the toll they’ve taken thus far.

In the recent Gaza war and its aftermath, we saw a totally illogical reaction from the world.

A., a teacher: “I do not know a single Gazan who is pro-Hamas at the moment, except for those on its payroll.”

Is the global community clear in its response to these extremist groups?

Like our fabled character, Don Quixote, President Obama has constantly spawned his own reality.

More Articles from Louis Rene Beres
Louis Rene Beres

President Obama’s core argument on a Middle East peace process is still founded on incorrect assumptions.

Louis Rene Beres

Once upon a time in America, every adult could recite at least some Spenglerian theory of decline.

President Obama’s core argument is still founded on incorrect assumptions.

Specific strategic lessons from the Bar Kokhba rebellion.

Still facing an effectively unhindered nuclear threat from Iran, Israel will soon need to choose between two strategic options.

For states, as for individuals, fear and reality go together naturally.

So much of the struggle between Israel and the Arabs continues to concern space.

An undifferentiated or across-the-board commitment to nuclear ambiguity could prove harmful to Israel’s’s overall security.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/global-denuclearization-and-israels-survival-second-of-four-parts/2012/03/07/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: