After absorbing any enemy nuclear aggression, Israel would certainly respond with a nuclear retaliatory strike. Although nothing is publicly known about Israel's precise targeting doctrine, such a reprisal would likely be launched against the aggressor's capital city and/or against similarly high-value urban targets. There would be absolutely no assurances, in response to this sort of genocidal aggression, that Israel would limit itself to striking back against exclusively military targets. This point should not be lost on the principal decision makers in Tehran.
There is a little recognized but noteworthy irony in the still-ongoing (when and how will it end?) matter of Iranian nuclearization.From the standpoint of President Ahmadinejad in Tehran, any prospect of hastening the Shiite apocalypse may naturally be welcomed. In the United States and Israel, on the other hand, any conscious encouragement of a Final Battle is strenuously rejected. Whatever Scriptural expectations of End Times may be found embedded in Judaism and Christianity and however seriously they may be accepted among particular American and Israeli populations, these expressly apocalyptic visions have always beenrejected as plausible policy options.
The core of Israel's active defense plan remains the phased Arrow anti-ballistic missile program. Designed to intercept medium and short-range ballistic missiles, the various operationalized forms of Arrow (Hetz in Hebrew) are expected todeal especially with Iran's surface-to-surface missile threat. Basically a high stratospheric system, Arrow is also capable of low-altitude and multi-tactical ballistic missile interceptions.
Some truths are counter-intuitive. At first, it would seem plain that a world without nuclear weapons must be preferable to one with such weapons. Upon reflection, however, it becomes evident that there are some countries for whom nuclear arms are indispensable to their physical survival. For these imperiled nations, surrendering nuclear status could effectively be an invitation to genocide. The most obvious case in point is Israel.
It will seem strange to see a column of mine in The Jewish Press about Woodrow Wilson, but there was very considerable "Jewish wisdom" in this Presbyterian former American president. Wilson first came to my attention in 1967, when I entered Princeton as a graduate student. He had been, after all, a Princeton Professor of Politics, and also a Princeton President before entering the White House.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already indicated approval of a Palestinian state, subject, however, to some codified and verifiable forms of "demilitarization." Leaving aside the inherent infeasibility of this declared contingency -no Palestinian leader will ever accept a condition of fundamentally abridged sovereignty - there is also an overriding and antecedent policy question: Can any form of diplomacy with the Palestinians, Fatah and/or Hamas, prove reasonable and productive? Although, on the surface, such a stark and cynical question may appear distinctly odd or foolish or even needlessly bellicose, there may in fact be no clear benefits for Israel to proceed diplomatically.
With his December 1, 2009 speech at West Point, U.S. President Barack Obama repeated his lofty goal of "a world free of nuclear weapons." Although such an eloquent plea will surely resonate intuitively with all who would seek peace, it is, in fact, not only unattainable (something altogether obvious), but also undesirable. In the case of U.S. ally Israel, for example, worldwide denuclearization could open the doors to another Jewish genocide.
Under long-standing international law, every state has a primary obligation to protect its citizens. Yet, it appears that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may soon be prepared to exchange Palestinian terrorists for kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. Any such exchange, however humane to Shalit and his family, would imperil thousands of other Israelis.
In all world politics, but especially in the Islamic Middle East, the ultimate form of power is power over death. Directed toward Jews, the violence of Palestinian terrorism is always "sacred" violence, and it is always oriented to eternal life for the terrorist. Unlike most other terrorists, the Palestinian movement fighters openly aspire to immortality. Paradoxically, that is why they enthusiastically commit uniquely homicidal forms of suicide.
After Palestine, conditions in the Middle East would be markedly less favorable to both Israel and the United States. The only credible way for Israel to deter large-scale conventional attacks following Palestinian statehood would be by maintaining visible and increasingly large-scale conventional capabilities. Naturally, enemy states contemplating first-strike attacks upon Israel using chemical and/or biological weapons would be apt to take more seriously Israel's nuclear deterrent. Whether or not this nuclear deterrent had remained undisclosed (the so-called "bomb in the basement") could also affect Israel's deterrent credibility and, thereby, U.S. security.
However unwittingly, President Obama is now setting the stage for Israel's dismemberment. Almost certainly, his fixed and unwavering commitment to a Palestinian state stems from the purest and most sensible of motives. Surely this principled commitment is drawn from some deeply personal and historic sense of justice and fairness, and not from any sort of insidious anti-Israel bias. The problem, however, is that this seemingly well-intentioned presidential interest in fair play is starkly at odds with an asymmetrically brutal geopolitical reality in the Middle East.
Iran continues to play a cat and mouse game with the U.N.'s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and with the United States. Early in October, when another secret site for enriching uranium was discovered, Tehran "magnanimously" agreed to certain future international inspections. To be sure, the actual promise of any such inspections, which was quickly and naively praised by both IAEA head Dr. Mohamed El-Baradei and U.S. President Barack Obama, will be effectively meaningless.
In the 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel’s military strategy and tactics displayed some notable strengths, but also some considerable weaknesses. Of course, in the years ahead, Israel is apt to find itself confronted with a far greater threat of belligerency. This is the unrelieved prospect of a nuclear Iran – a possibly irremediable enemy state, and one with well-established ties both to Hezbollah and to an already nuclear North Korea. It follows, at every level of possible threat confrontation, that Israel’s military doctrine will now need to be informed by an improved and appropriately expanded body of pertinent understanding. This, in turn, will require a more refined and updated intellectual orientation to national strategic studies.
Following his early June speech delivered in Cairo, U.S. President Obama pretty much gave the final green light to Tehran. More precisely, with regard to ongoing Iranian nuclearization, the president signaled plainly that further economic sanctions, and not any defensive military action, were the only remaining option. In Jerusalem, one must presume, Prime Minister Netanyahu understood immediately the substantially changing drift of American foreign policy toward the Middle East. For Israel, therefore, a new plan for dealing with an unprecedented strategic menace would now be necessary. This plan would somehow have to be based on "living with Iran."
As U.S. President Barack Obama stubbornly proceeds with his deeply flawed resurrection of a "Two-State Solution" in the Middle East, he will bring substantial harm to the United States as well as to Israel. In this connection, Mr. Obama should quickly recognize that thecore rationale of Jihadist terror has little if anything to do with politics or with military strategy and tactics. Rather, this rationale is, and will surely remain, fundamentally, a sincere expression of religious sacrifice.
Without getting lost in the immensely dense intricacies of quantum theory and the theories of relativity, we already know that modern physics has witnessed revolutionary breakthroughs in the rational understanding of space and time. Normally, however, these imaginative breakthroughs - which have produced entirely new "paradigms" or scientific models of the physical universe, still remain distant from analytic considerations of international relations and international law.
In some important respects, Iran is only a microcosm. Whatever happens next within that particularly troubled and troubling country, many of the deepest underlying problems and divisions will remain genuinely global.This is because revolution, despotism, war and terrorism are always generic issues in world politics. In the end - that is, civilizationally - they will need to be understood and confronted on a broadly international level.
The following article was originally published in The Jewish Press in February 2000. It is being reprinted here now because over the past ten years, nothing has been learned about the central impediment to real peace in the Middle East. The core problem was, and still is, the far-reaching Islamic hatred of Jews. Doctrinally, Israel will never be accepted in the Islamic Middle East because it is a Jewish state. As with the Oslo process discussed in this 2000 article, no "Road Map" or other currently favored form of twisted cartography can hold any plausible promise for Israel. Today, as in the case of Oslo, the Road Map simply requires Israel to exchange land for nothing. President Barack Obama, please take note.
In Judaism, there can be no justification for deliberate self-endangerment, and in classic Greek tragedy, there can be no deus ex machina. In tragedy, the human spirit remains noble in the face of inescapable death, but if there should remain anything genuinely tragic in Israel's incremental capitulations to "Palestine," it lies only in the original Greek meaning of the term - "goat song" - from the dithyrambs sung by goatskin-clad worshippers of Dionysus. In every other sense, Prime Minister Netanyahu's plan exhibits behavior that would, however unwittingly, desecrate Israel's Jewish heritage and its survival obligations.
Credo quia absurdum. "I believe because it is absurd." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is now officially on record in favor of creating a Palestinian state (a position that he had long opposed), but only if the new Arab state is "demilitarized." Naturally, any such notion of demilitarization will be anathema to the Palestinians and their supporters, and has - in fact - already been rejected by all of them.