web analytics
July 31, 2015 / 15 Av, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


On Existential Threats And Lethal Remedies A Jurisprudential View (Part II)


Beres-Louis-Rene

The following Keynote Address was delivered by Professor Beres to the Intelligence Summit in St. Petersburg on March 5, 2007. It is published here for the very first time in its original form. These formal remarks presented by our own Strategic and Military Affairs analyst to very senior members of the military and intelligence communities (U.S., Israeli and certain others) remain starkly relevant and timely.

Let me return very specifically to preemption, in counter-terrorist operations, and in national self-defense against existential threats from other states. In this regard, there are two basic considerations before us here at the conference: legal and operational. Naturally, our capacity to succeed on both dimensions at the same time will sometimes be problematic. Moreover, there are potentially important trade-offs, and also interactions or synergies between the legal and the operational considerations that should be better understood.

Whether or not we can argue persuasively for preemption in purely operational terms (and that will depend, inter alia, upon the complexities of each pertinent theatre of conflict), there is a determinable right under international law called anticipatory self-defense. The “international community” may typically frown upon such a right as merely pretext for defensive first-strikes (and they are ideas that can conceivably be abused), yet, reciprocally, no government is ever obliged to compel its citizens to simply sit back, and await their unresisted annihilation. In 1996, in an authoritative advisory opinion, the International Court of Justice ruled that, in certain existential circumstances, a state may even have the defensive right to resort to nuclear weapons.

Today, the risks in certain circumstances of not striking first are perhaps greater than ever before.

Anticipatory self-defense is an expression of customary international law. The sources of International Law are found at Art. 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice. There, “international custom” is identified expressly as a fully authoritative source.

Back to Iran. We already know that Iran today is not Iraq on June 7, 1981, the day of Israel’s “Operation Opera” strike against the Osiraq nuclear reactor near Baghdad. We already know, operationally, that any act of anticipatory self-defense against hardened/dispersed/multiplied Iranian nuclear infrastructures and command control facilities would entail huge and possibly intolerable strategic, political and human costs. Nonetheless, we must always compare these expected costs to the presumed costs of not preempting at all. Recalling judgments regarding perfidyunder the law of war, many expected Iranian civilian casualties following an American and/or Israeli preemption would prove, perhaps indisputably, to be the legal responsibility of Iran.

International law is not a suicide pact. We are not obligated to sit back and try to coexist with a fully nuclearized Iran, especially an Iran that remains openly indifferent to its codified Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations, and that maintains a persistently genocidal orientation toward Israel. The inherent limits of any fixedly defensive posture, articulated most famously by Sun-Tzu, were recalled last week in an article I published together with Major-General Paul Vallely.

Let me conclude with some specific recommendations of Project Daniel(completed in mid-January 2003, several months before the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom). We (The Project Daniel Group) linked anticipatory self-defense to various alternative preemption scenarios, and to the National Security Strategy of the United States of America (September 20, 2002). We also examined and endorsed expanded strategic cooperation between Washington and Jerusalem, with particular reference to maintaining Israel’s “qualitative edge.” Among other things, Project Daniel looked very closely at a recommended “paradigm shift” to deal with ascending low-intensity and long-range WMD threats to Israel. We also considered the specific circumstances under which Israel should purposefully end its current posture of “deliberate nuclear ambiguity.”

The Project Daniel Group, comprised primarily of very senior (retired) figures from the Israeli military and intelligence communities, urged continuance of constructive support to the US-led War On Terror. We stipulated that Israel should combine a strengthening of multilayered active defenses with a credible, secure and decisive nuclear deterrent. The shortfalls of too great a reliance on the Arrow anti-ballistic missile (ABM) are also detailed in other articles I co-authored recently with Lt. General Thomas McInerney, and with Major-General Isaac Ben-Israel (IDF/Israel Air Force).

To meet IMOD/IDF mission goals, Israel’s recognizable retaliatory force should be fashioned with the capacity to destroy some 10 – 20 high-value targets scattered widely over certain enemy states in the Middle East. Early on, The Project Daniel Grouprecognized a very basic asymmetry between Israel and portions of the Arab/Iranian world concerning the desirability of peace, the absence of democracy, the acceptability of terror as a legitimate weapon, and the relative size of populations. Importantly, The Project Daniel Group concluded, inter alia, that non-conventional exchanges between Israel and its enemies must always be avoided. We argued, back in 2003, that Israel must never allow a nuclear Iran, and that it must prepare, both tactically and jurisprudentially, for lawful preemptive strategies, even if the United States and the larger “international community” should choose to reject and condemn the preemption option.

Thomas Jefferson, as an avid reader and philosopher, was familiar with the writings of Cicero, Grotius, Burlamaqui, Pufendorf, van Bynkershoek, Vattel and, of course, Locke. In several of his “lesser” writings, Jefferson argued firmly, on the express basis of Natural Law, that all states always have an overriding obligation to endure. This argument, reinforced in 1996 by the International Court of Justice advisory opinion on nuclear weapons, is even more compelling today than it was in earlier centuries.

Odd as it may first appear, even assassination and preemption may sometimes have a distinctly lawful and proper place in purposeful considerations of counter-terrorism, national security and national survival.

International law is not a suicide pact.

LOUIS RENÉ BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971), Strategic and Military Affairs analyst for The Jewish Press, is the author of many major books and articles dealing with nuclear strategy issues, terrorism and international law. Professor Beres was born in Zürich, Switzerland, on August 31, 1945.

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 “On Existential Threats And Lethal Remedies A Jurisprudential View (Part II)”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Cong. Juan Vargas (D-CA-51)
Second Democrat in Congress Announces Rejection of Iran Deal
Latest Indepth Stories
Schwartz-073115

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

Rabbi YY Rubinstein

American leftists have a pathological self-inflicted blindness to the dangers of political Islam

Tobin-073115

Hillary should THANK Trump; By dominating the news he’s overshadowed the implosion of her campaign

Rabbi Yaakov Spivak

Hard to remember when Jewish youth were so hostile to their heritage as they are on campuses today.

Names of the enablers of Iran’s Nuclear weapons will be added next to Hitler’s on the list of infamy

By most accounts, the one person with the political muscle to swing enough Democratic votes to override a veto is Sen. Schumer.

The next day, in a speech in New York to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Kerry substantially upped the ante.

In Israel, the judiciary has established itself as superior to ALL other branches of the government.

The Fifteenth Day of the month of Av became a day of national rejoicing. The moment that had seemed hopeless became the moment of Redemption.

I think the melodies in our religious services have a haunting sound to them that just permeates your guts and gets into your soul. If you have any musical inclination, I think they inspire you to compose.

Cavalier analogies to the Holocaust are unacceptable, but Huckabee’s analogy was very appropriate.

Pollard was a Jewish-head-on-a-pike for all American Jews to see and to learn the explicit lesson.

If the Iran deal passes, Obama’s WH becomes world’s leading financier of terrorism against Americans

{Originally posted to the author’s website, FirstOne Through} Some passionate and eloquent liberals have bemoaned the state of inclusiveness among Jews today. Leon Wieseltier, editor of the New Republic penned an angry piece “J Street’s Rejection Is a Scandal” about the exclusion in 2014 of J Street from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. […]

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/on-existential-threats-and-lethal-remedies-a-jurisprudential-view-part-ii/2011/01/05/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: