web analytics
August 5, 2015 / 20 Av, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Israel, Iran, And The Shiite Apocalypse (Third of Three Parts)


Beres-Louis-Rene

All changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born.
– William Butler Yeats,
“Easter, 1916”

The primary point of Israel’s nuclear forces must be deterrence ex ante, not preemption or reprisal ex post. If, however, nuclear weapons should ever be introduced into a conflict between Israel and one or more of the several states that still wish to destroy it, some form of nuclear war fighting could ensue.

This would be the case so long as: (a) enemy state first-strikes against Israel would not destroy the Jewish state’s second-strike nuclear capability; (b) enemy state 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 state second-strike nuclear capabilities; and (d) Israeli retaliation for enemy state conventional first-strikes would not destroy enemy state nuclear counter-retaliatory capabilities.

From the standpoint of protecting its security and survival, this means Israel should now take prompt and immediate steps to ensure the likelihood of (a) and (b) above, and the unlikelihood of (c) and (d). As was clarified by Project Daniel’s final report, “Israel’s Strategic Future” (www.acpr.org.il/ENGLISH-NATIV/03-ISSUE/daniel-3.htm), it’s always in Israel’s interest to avoid nuclear war fighting wherever possible.

For Israel, both nuclear and non-nuclear preemptions of enemy unconventional aggressions could lead to nuclear exchanges. This would depend, in part, upon the effectiveness and breadth of Israeli targeting, the surviving number of enemy nuclear weapons, and the willingness of enemy leaders to risk Israeli nuclear counter-retaliations. Significantly, the likelihood of nuclear exchanges would be greatest wherever potential state aggressors, especially Iran, were allowed to deploy ever-larger numbers of certain unconventional weapons, without eliciting appropriate and effective Israeli preemptions. This point was frequently overlooked by those who persistently opposed still-timely forms of anticipatory self-defense by Israel.

Should enemy nuclear deployments ultimately be allowed, Israel could then effectively forfeit the non-nuclear preemption option. At that point, its only remaining alternatives to nuclear preemption would be: (1) a no-longer viable conventional preemption; or (2) a decision to do nothing, thereby relying for security on the increasingly doubtful logic of nuclear deterrence or “containment,” and the inherently limited protections of ballistic missile defense.

This means, at least in principle, that the risks of any Israeli nuclear preemption, of nuclear exchanges with an enemy state, and of enemy nuclear first strikes, might still be reduced by certain Israeli non-nuclear preemptions.

While still unrecognized in Washington and Jerusalem, there is no greater power in world politics than power over death. The idea of an apocalypse figures scripturally in both Judaism and Christianity, but it very likely appeared for the first time among the Zoroastrians in ancient Persia. Interestingly, but probably without any current conceptual significance, this is basically the same geographic region as modern-day Iran.

For President Ahmadinejad, still in power, and very deeply concerned with power over death, there could be a recognizably “terrible beauty” in transforming the “world of war” into the “world of Islam.” For all who study present-day Iran, this bitter observation is incontestable. After all, for this Iranian president – and more importantly for his assorted clerical masters – an “end of the world” struggle spawned by any such transformation could enticingly open the way, at least for true believers, to a life everlasting.

What promise could conceivably be more satisfying? Though still largely inconspicuous to the generals, the professors, and the political analysts, there can be no greater power on earth than power over death, the incomparable power to overcome mortality. It follows that soon-to-be nuclear Iranian decision-makers, joyously imagining an utterly endless landscape of enemy corpses, could emerge prepared, enthusiastically and unhesitatingly, to become collective martyrs.

In the final analysis, however, we must recall that “irrational” is not the same as “crazy” or “mad,” and that even an irrational Iranian adversary might still be subject to alternate forms of deterrence. Therefore, Iranian leaders who might be willing to sacrifice millions to bring back the missing Twelfth Imam, or Mahdi, could still maintain a consistent and transitive order of different preferences.

In this hierarchy there would be certain core religious institutions and expectations that demand protection. It follows that even an “irrational” Iranian leadership that is willing to absorb massive enemy military strikes against its populations might still not be willing to absorb serious harms to presumably essential core elements of its One true Faith.

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.

No Responses to “Israel, Iran, And The Shiite Apocalypse (Third of Three Parts)”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
US Vice President Joseph Biden, President Barack Obama.
Obama Warns US Jews ‘Israel Will Bear the Brunt’ If Nuke Deal Nixed
Latest Indepth Stories
The Quran

Islamists spoke of “Love and Justice in a World of Suffering,” skipping the horrors caused by Islam

President  Barack Obama.

How and when is it appropriate for pulpit rabbis to comment publicly on the Iran issue?

David Menachem Gordon

David was many things: Brother, son, grandson, nephew, uncle, cousin, talmid, comrade, AND a WARRIOR

Graffiti at Duma home that was torched in Samara.

Some Israelis seem to have forgotten no one has yet tracked down the murderers of Ali Bawabsheh.

Aside from my own 485-page tome on the subject, Red Army, I think Jamie Glazov did an excellent job at framing things in United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror.

“Isn’t it enough that the whole world hates us? WHy do we have to hate each other?”

Who said Kerry won no concessions from Iran? He secured pistachios and Beluga caviar for America!

In 2015, Israel’s fertility rate (3+ births per woman) is higher than all Arab countries except 3

The New Israel Fund, as usual, condemns the State of Israel rather than condemning a horrible act.

I sought a Muslim group that claims to preach a peaceful and accepting posture of Islam, Ahmadiyya

While Orthodox men are encouraged to achieve and celebrated for it, Orthodox women too often are not

Jonathan remember, as long as you’re denied your right to come home to Israel you’re still in prison

Reports of a dead baby, a devastated family, and indications of a gloating attacker.

“The fear of being exposed publicly is the only thing that will stop people,” observed Seewald.

“Yesha” and Binyamin Regional Council leaders said the attack “is not the path of Jews in Judea and Samaria.”

The occasion? The rarely performed mitzvah of pidyon peter chamor: Redemption of a firstborn donkey.

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/israel-iran-and-the-shiite-apocalypse-third-of-three-parts/2012/07/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: