web analytics
September 17, 2014 / 22 Elul, 5774
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Apartment 758x530 Africa-Israel at the Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York

Africa Israel Residences, part of the Africa Israel Investments Group led by international businessman Lev Leviev, will present 7 leading projects on the The Israel Real Estate Exhibition in New York on Sep 14-15, 2014.



Israeli Security, Enemy Rationality, And Coming Global Chaos (First of Two Parts)


Beres-Louis-Rene

In the past few years, on these pages of The Jewish Press, I have written several times about critical strategic implications of “chaos” and also of “irrationality” and “madness.” Still, I have never written about the fusion or juxtaposition of these seemingly distinct issues. However, because there are increasingly obvious and important potential interactions between them (military strategists would call such interactions “synergies,” or sometimes “force-multipliers”), I shall now examine these utterly core security matters with a view toward acknowledging their possible ways of coming together.

In particular, the results could be very important to a better understanding of what is now happening between Israel and Iran. This will be, therefore, a helpful and consciously purposeful look behind the current news.

In defense planning there exist critically important differences between rationality, irrationality, and madness. An irrational leadership may not value national survival more highly than anything else, but it may still have a consistent and therefore predictable hierarchy of preferences. For example, it may always value certain presumed religious obligations more than any other preference, or combination of preferences. This unsettling prospect, as we all already know, is a distinct possibility in present-day Iran.

A rational leadership elite, on the other hand, in the usual parlance of security studies, will always value national survival more highly than all other preferences, and it will always respect this same rank order in its hierarchy of preferences. Significantly, just as with an irrational national leadership, this set of rational decision-makers will also have a consistent hierarchy.

Madness is a different condition altogether; in world politics it means not having any established rank-ordering of preferences. Hence, a mad national leadership, with no consistent ordering of preferred choices, will be more-or-less wholly unpredictable. For Israel and the United States, having to face a mad adversary must always represent the very worst case scenario. But, at least for now, perhaps somewhat reassuringly, it is the most improbable case.

Enter Israel and Iran. According to recent statements by former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan, “The regime in Iran is a very rational one.” However, considering Dagan’s corollary explanations of “rationality,” he is saying only that the Iranian regime is not mad; that it will prudently consider all decisional consequences. Dagan’s notion of Iranian rationality may actually resemble our above-referenced meaning of irrationality – that this regime carefully weighs all expected costs and benefits, and that its preferences will always fall within a consistent hierarchy, or rank-ordering. The bottom line is this: Dagan’s statements notwithstanding, the current Iranian leadership cannot be reliably counted upon to value national survival above all else. Yes, its authority patterns may be entirely reasonable, well-ordered, and even predictable (certainly not “mad”), but there still can be no adequate assurances of ultimate and certain decisional priority for national self-preservation.

It follows from all this that successful “containment” or deterrence of an already-nuclear Iranian regime should not be taken for granted. The resulting balance-of-terror might still not closely replicate the circumstances of mutual assured destruction (MAD) that had once existed between the Soviet Union and the United States. This might not be your father’s Cold War.

This brings us, quite naturally, to chaos.

Chaotic disintegration is an evident fact of life in several parts of the world. Today, substantial and even sudden extensions of this condition to other sectors of our planet are plausible. Even with assorted arms control and disarmament visions, including President Obama’s continuing fantasy of “a world free of nuclear weapons,” it is credible to expect, somewhere, an eventual fusion of mass destruction weapons with irrationality and/or madness. Our current fears, of course, center on Iran, Syria, Pakistan and North Korea, but there are certainly other, as yet unforeseen, areas of peril.

From Israel’s particular standpoint, the dangers may be starkly unique. Confronting not only a growing threat from existing enemy states but also the more or less simultaneous appearance of a new enemy state of Palestine, Israel could find itself engulfed in mass-casualty terrorism, and/or in unconventional war. As to any long-promised security assistance from the United States, President Obama or his successor could offer little more than compassionate American help in burying the dead.

The probability of any genuine Middle East chaos would be enlarged by any future instances of enemy irrationality or madness. If Israel should begin to face an irrational Jihadi adversary that values certain presumed religious expectations more highly than its own physical survival, Israel’s deterrent could, by definition, be immobilized. This could mean a heightened threat of nuclear and/or biological war.

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 “Israeli Security, Enemy Rationality, And Coming Global Chaos (First of Two Parts)”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
ISIS's response to President Obama's warnings came in the form of a movie trailer.
ISIS Sends Obama Fiery Video Response [video]
Latest Indepth Stories
A Gaza building, reportedly used by Hamas, destroyed by the IDF on August 26, 2014.

For too long the media and international community have been preaching that “Palestinians” bear no responsibility for the consequences of their decisions and they are passive victims of the conflict.

The Iron Dome was called on for the first time in 2013 to intercept a missile fired by terrorists in Sinai at Eilat.

Iron Dome intercepted over 1,000 rockets aimed at Israel with a success rate of over 90% in 2014

IDF lone soldier and Ohio native David Menachem Gordon (z"l).

We talked about the responsibility that comes with the pen, its potential to influence and inspire.

Amnesty International:The crippling of the power station was “collective punishment of Palestinians”

Originally scheduled to be held elsewhere, the hotel canceled, pressured by local missionary groups

It’s likely that some of the rebel factions, including US clients, have indeed made pacts with ISIS

Imam Tafsirli of the Harlem Islamic center: “You cannot be a Muslim without believing in Jesus”

If simple fuel choice were implemented, the power of petroleum and those who sell it would cease.

Value of IS: It enables people to see the place to which all other Islamist fascism is headed.

“When Frank does something he does it well and you don’t have to worry about dotting the i’s or crossing the t’s.”

President Obama: “ISIL is not Islamic. No religion condones the killing of innocents”

he time of the Uman pilgrimage is upon us, and we dare not ignore the opportunity to highlight the danger.

Healing requires that the victim be validated for being harmed and the guilty assume responsibility.

During the war, not once was Hashem’s name mentioned to the nation by Israel’s PM or gov’t officials

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/israeli-security-enemy-rationality-and-coming-global-chaos-first-of-two-parts/2012/05/16/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: