For Israel, the prime inheritor of Genesis, an expanding global chaos portends a very unusual, and also ironic, kind of fragility. A relentlessly beleaguered microstate, and always the individual Jew writ large, Israel could become the principal victim of international disorder. In view of the exceptionally far-reaching interrelatedness of all world politics, this could be true even if the actual precipitating events of war and terror would occur elsewhere.
Continuing turmoil in the Middle East and North Africa signals important and potentially catastrophic transformations. For Israel, the greatest danger stems from the interpenetrating and largely unpredictable effects of war, terrorism and revolution in the region. In essence, these plainly destabilizing effects could spawn an unprecedented and historically unique kind of chaos.
I am a professor of international law. In my columns, therefore, I focus from time to time on distinctly legal aspects of Israel's foreign relations. Nonetheless, I am always deeply attentive to examining these particular aspects within a genuinely realistic geopolitical or geostrategic context.
When on October 6, 1973, Egyptian and Syrian surprise attacks came dangerously close to jeopardizing Israel's survival, it was because of a monumental intelligence failure. Similarly, on January 18, 1991, the scream of air-raid sirens could be heard in every corner of Israel. The Iraqi Scuds that slammed through Tel Aviv and Haifa neighborhoods had caught the country, in the words of a former Israeli intelligence chief, "with its pants down." In the latter case, the only element that saved Israel was Iraq's notably ineffectual warheads. If they had not been so ineffectual, Israel could have suffered profoundly, if not existentially.
After Fatah-Hamas Reconciliation The Endless Futility Of Israel’s ‘Peace Process’ (Fourth Of Five Parts)
Israel's persisting legal obligation to abrogate the Oslo Accords, as we have seen, stemmed from certain peremptory expectations of international law. Israel, however, also has substantial rights of abrogation here that bind its behavior apart from any such expectations. These particular rights derive from the basic doctrine of Rebus sic stantibus.
The explicit application of codified restrictions of the laws of war to noninternational-armed conflicts dates back only as far as the four Geneva Conventions of 1949. Recalling, however, that more than treaties and conventions comprise the laws of war, it is also clear that the obligations of jus in bello (justice in war) comprise part of "the general principles of law recognized by civilized nations," and bind all categories of belligerents. Indeed, the Hague Convention IV of 1907 declares, in broad terms, that in the absence of a precisely published set of guidelines in humanitarian international law concerning "unforeseen cases," the preconventional sources of international law govern all belligerency.
After Fatah-Hamas Reconciliation: The Endless Futility Of Israel’s ‘Peace Process’ (Second of Five...
The Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO have always been in violation of international law. Israel, therefore, has always been obligated to abrogate these non-treaty agreements. A comparable argument could be made regarding PLO/PA obligations, but this would make little jurisprudential sense in light of that non-state party's antecedent incapacity to enter into any equal legal arrangement with Israel.
After Fatah-Hamas Reconciliation The Endless Futility Of Israel’s ‘Peace Process’ (A Column in Five...
At the end of April 2011, the Palestinian Authority, Fatah and Hamas reached a formal reconciliation and unification agreement. At that time, Hamas leader Mahmoud Azhar carefully noted the still-unchanged Hamas platform - "no recognition of Israel, and no negotiation." To be sure, this refractory position will become the de jure and/or de facto position of Fatah as well.
After suffering anyenemy nuclear aggression, Israel wouldcertainly respond with a nuclear retaliatory strike. Although nothing is publicly known about Israel's precise targeting doctrine, such a reprisal would most likely be launched against the aggressor's capital city, and/or against similarly high-value urban targets. Understandably, there would be no assurances, in response to this sort of plainly genocidal aggression, that Israel would in any way limit itself to striking back against exclusively military targets.
In Israel, a core disagreement has emerged between Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon and former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan.
Author's Note: The following article was originally in these pages in February 2000. It is being reprinted now because President Obama has recently advanced a "Two-State Solution" that utterly ignores the irremediable core impediment to real peace in the Middle East. This impediment was, and still remains, the far-reaching and fundamentally doctrinal Islamic hatred of Jews.
Even with Osama bin Laden gone, al Qaeda operatives, some actively collaborating with more-or-less kindred groups, are planning terror attacks against the United States. These attacks could conceivably involve chemical and/or biological weapons.
Mr. President, the "Two-State" approach to peace between Israel and Palestine, strongly reaffirmed in your recent meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, accepts the position of an Israeli occupation. Yet even the most cursory look at pertinent world history would reveal several compelling reasons to reject any such position. Organized Arab terrorism against Israel began on the very first hour of Israel's independence, in May 1948. Indeed, virulent anti-Jewish terrorism in the British Mandate period had even taken place many years before Israel's statehood.
The more things change, the more they remain the same. Soon, even the more "moderate" Palestinian forces will re-start their carefully choreographed terror attacks against Israel. Simultaneously, more or less, Hamas- even as it proceeds to a presumably formal rapprochement with Fatah - will do the same. In Lebanon, Shiite Hizbullah, steadily mentored and lavishly re-supplied by Iran, and operationally allied with Sunni Hamas, has already initiated massive preparations for the next war.
Adam Smith published his Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations in 1776. A revolutionary book, Wealth did not aim to support the interests of any one particular class, but rather the overall well being of an entire nation. He sought, as every American high school student learns, "an invisible hand," whereby "the private interests and passions of men" will lead to "that which is most agreeable to the interest of a whole society."
Osama bin Laden was assassinated by U.S. Special Forces on May 1, 2011. Although media emphasis thus far has been focused almost entirely on the pertinent operational and political issues surrounding this "high value" killing, there are also important jurisprudential aspects to the case that require similar attention. Whether or not killing Osama was a genuinely purposeful assassination from a strategic perspective, a question that will be debated for years to come, we should now also inquire: Was it legal?
IDF planners working on an improved strategic paradigm will need to understand the following: Removing the bomb from Israel's "basement" could enhance Israel's nuclear deterrent to the extent that it would enlarge enemy perceptions of secure and capable Israeli nuclear forces. Such a calculated end to deliberate ambiguity could also underscore Israel's willingness to use these nuclear forces in reprisal for certain enemy first-strike and retaliatory attacks. From the standpoint of successful Israeli nuclear deterrence, IDF planners must proceed on the assumption that perceived willingness is always just as important as perceived capability. This, again, may bring to mind the counter intuitively presumed advantages for Israel of sometimes appearing less than fully rational.
The presence of any force multiplier may create synergy. Again, in the matter of Israel, we must acknowledge the antecedent "geometry of chaos." Understanding this more fully, IDF fighting units could conceivably become more effective than the mere sum of their respective parts.
By its improved use of correlation of forces thinking, Israel will need to seize every available operational initiative, including certain appropriate intelligence and counterintelligence functions, to best influence and control each enemy's particular matrix of expectations. This is a tall policy order, especially as these multiple enemies will include both state and sub-state adversaries, often with substantial and subtle interactions between them. Moreover, in an age of chemical, biological and even nuclear weapons, the consequences of certain IDF planning failures could be literally intolerable.
Any chaotic disintegration of the world system wouldfundamentally transform the Israeli system. Again, recalling the remarkable Swiss playwright, such a transformation could ultimately involve total or near-total destruction. In anticipation, Israel will have to orient its strategic planning to an assortment of worst-case prospects, thus focusing much more deliberately on a wide range of primarily self-help security options. This point simply cannot be overstated.