web analytics
March 5, 2015 / 14 Adar , 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Global Zero’s Possible Consequences For Israel

Louis Rene Beres

Louis Rene Beres

As this is being written, Chuck Hagel has yet to be confirmed as secretary of defense. Whatever the outcome of the Senate vote over his nomination, the views Hagel would have brought (or will in fact bring) to this post are extremely problematic.

To take one important example, he is on the record as supporting Global Zero. This is an organization calling for abolition of all the world’s nuclear weapons. Another prominent adherent of this movement is former president Jimmy Carter.

Oy vey. This high-minded call for across-the-board nuclear abolition is more than impractical. Plainly, it is also undesirable. For Israel, in particular, any Global Zero-style “solution” could be more than merely unhelpful. It could be authentically catastrophic.

History can instruct. The risks of war between enemy states are not automatically enlarged by any expanded powers of destruction. Sometimes, Hagel should understand, the correlation between war risks and weapon destructiveness can be substantially less direct, or even inverse.

Hagel fails to understand. Utterly. Nuclear weapons are not the real problem. In fact, by themselves, these weapons are neither good nor evil. In certain cases, they can provide the most credible basis for strengthening deterrence.

For Israel, nuclear weapons, whether ambiguous, or (possibly in the future) disclosed, can serve as significant impedimentsto war.

Hagel should now be looking toward a world that exhibits fewer risks for war and terror. While awaiting the Senate’s verdict on his nomination, he would have done well to focus on creating an improved U.S. strategic doctrine. This doctrine would concern not only principal jihadist adversaries but also still-prospective national foes in Russia, North Korea, Iran, and a conceivably post-coup Pakistan. Any such doctrine could have profound survival implications for Israel.

During the 1950s the United States first began to codify various doctrines of nuclear deterrence. The world then was tightly bipolar, and the enemy was the Soviet Union. American national security was openly premised on a strategic policy called “massive retaliation.” Over time, that stance evolved into “flexible response.”

Today the world is characterized by multiple and inter-penetrating axes of real and potentially violent conflict. There are almost four times as many countries as existed in 1945. In this expresslymultipolarworld, Russia, which had once assumed diminished importance in optimistic American strategic calculations, is once again a legitimately major concern.

In part, the Russians are spurred on in their ambitious nuclear invigorations by a plausible fear of planned U.S. ballistic missile defenses in Europe. Such active defenses, in the Russian view, would threaten the long agreed upon deterrence logic of “mutual vulnerability.”

What should be done?

Among other steps, it is time to gather together America’s best strategic thinkers and put them to work on a present-day equivalent of the Manhattan Project. This time, however, the task would not be to develop any new form of super weapon. Yet this project should not become a pretext to oppose nuclear weapons per se. After all, without a nuclear “balance of terror” during the Cold War, it is likely there would have been a third world war.

A capable American strategic brain trust will need to consider complex matters of nuclear targeting. These core issues would concern critically basic differences between the targeting of enemy civilians and cities (countervalue targeting), and the targeting of enemy military assets and infrastructures (counterforce targeting).

Precisely because the man President Obama felt comfortable choosing as secretary of defense seems to draw his principal strategic policy options from idealized assumptions about worldwide nuclear disarmament, Americans need to understand that they remain at risk of unprecedented enemy attacks.

As for Israel, the existential perils of naive strategic thinking are even greater.

There will not be a “nuclear weapons-free world.” And, at least for now, there should not be such a world. It is a bad idea on its face, one that is not only impracticable but also misguided in principle.

The administration should work to create a greatly improved U.S. strategic doctrine, one that would examine, inter alia, fundamentally new directions in preemption (“anticipatory self-defense”), active defense and cyber-war. Such a coherent and purposeful macro-plan is sorely needed to serve critical national security needs in Washington and Jerusalem. Consciously detached from any naive and misconceived ideas about nuclear weapons, it could ultimately prevent major enemy aggressions against both the United States and Israel.

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.


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.

One Response to “Global Zero’s Possible Consequences For Israel”

  1. Charlie Hall says:

    " abolition of all the world’s nuclear weapons".

    Another prominent adherent of this goal was the late US President Ronald Reagan. He almost pulled it off in 1986 in his negotiations with Gorbachev in the Reykjavik summit meeting.

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Iran's Ayatollah Ali Khamenei: With a smile like that, he couldn't possibly want to annihilate Israel, right?
Call It A Purim Miracle: Reports Say Ayatollah Khamenei In Critical Condition
Latest Indepth Stories
Ballots for elections "made in Samaria."

Any Jew who ties his fate to Israel should be able to vote in Israel’s elections-even before aliyah

A young Moshe Meir Weiss introduces his mother, Mrs. Agnes Weiss Goldman, to Rav Moshe in 1979.

There were no airs about him. Rav Moshe was affectionately known as the Gaon of Normalcy.

Keeping-Jerusalem

Israel’s full sovereignty over a united Jerusalem is the only path for true peace in the region.

Mordechai on the King's horse, being led by Haman

Just like Moses and Aaron, Mordechai decides to ruin the party…

The president has made clear – I can’t state this more firmly – the policy is Iran will not get a nuclear weapon.

Obama has an apparent inability to understand Islam in particular and Mid-East culture in general

Pesach is a Torah-based holiday whose fundamental observances are rooted in Torah law; Purim is a rabbinic holiday whose laws and customs are grounded in the rabbinic tradition.

In honor of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s successful speech before Congress.

Mr. Spock conveys a message with painfully stark relevance to our world today, especially in the context of PM Netanyahu’s speech to Congress.

Obama created the “partisan politics” by asking Dem. party members to avoid Bibi and his address

Enough is enough. The Jewish community has a big tent, but the NIF should have no place in it.

I vote for the right and get left-wing policy. Every. Frigging. Time.

The Holocaust was the latest attempt of Amalek to destroy the special bond that we enjoy with God.

UN inspectors were flabbergasted when Iran allowed them full unfettered access to All nuclear sites

More Articles from Louis Rene Beres

A “Palestine” could become another Lebanon, with many different factions battling for control.

Louis Rene Beres

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

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.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/global-zeros-possible-consequences-for-israel/2013/02/27/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: