History takes no sharp corners. Despite obvious and very consequential current upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa - especially, of course, in Egypt - the core issues and principles of war and peace remain essentially unchanged. For Israel, this means keeping an ever-sharp focus on the still-underlying existential challenges. Although it is certainly correct that there will be constant, unexpected and distinctly palpable shifts in the prevailing hierarchy of particular threats, these shifts should always be understood within a much broader explanatory context of well-established strategic theory.
Looking back, The Group had concerned itself with many complex and interpenetrating points, including the need for an expanded policy of preemption; an ongoing re-evaluation of "nuclear ambiguity;" recognizable preparations for appropriate counter-value reprisals in the case of certain WMD aggressions; adaptations to a "paradigm shift" away from classical patterns of warfare; expanded cooperation with the United States in the War Against Terror and in future inter-state conflicts in the Middle East; deployment of suitable active defense systems; avoidance of nuclear war-fighting wherever possible; and various ways to improve Israel's nuclear deterrence.
Nuclear deterrence, ambiguous or partially disclosed, is essential to Israel's physical survival. If, for whatever reason, Israel should fail to prevent enemy state nuclearization, it will have to refashion its nuclear deterrent to conform to vastly more dangerous regional and world conditions. But even if this should require purposeful disclosure of its nuclear assets and doctrine, such revelation would have to be limited solely to what would be needed to convince Israel's enemies of both its capacity and its resolve.
Project Daniel understood that international law has long allowed for states to initiate forceful defensive measures when there exists "imminent danger" of aggression. This rule of anticipatory self-defense was expanded and reinforced by then-President George W. Bush's issuance of The National Security Strategy of the United States of America. Released on September 20,2002, this document asserted, inter alia, that traditional concepts of deterrence would not work against an enemy "whose avowed tactics are wanton destruction and the targeting of innocents...." As Israel is substantially less defensible and more vulnerable than the United States, its particular right to resort to anticipatory self-defense under threat of readily identifiable existential harms is beyond legal question.
It is highly unlikely, The Group reasoned, that any enemy state would ever calculate that the expected benefits of annihilating Israel would be so great as to outweigh the expected costs of its own annihilation. Excluding an irrational enemy state, a prospect that falls by definition outside the logic of nuclear deterrence, all state enemies of Israel would assuredly refrain from nuclear and/or biological attacks upon Israel that would presumptively elicit massive counter-value reprisals. Naturally, this reasoning would obtain only to the extent that these enemy states fully believed Israel would actually make good on its threats.
Revolutionary fervor still sweeping the Middle East is plainly ongoing and perilously "contagious." Above all, perhaps, these eruptions confirm that the so-called "Palestinian Problem" has never been more than a manipulated contrivance of corrupt Arab monarchies and dictatorships, and that Israel has had absolutely nothing to do with the region's core problems. Indeed, to the contrary, this fervor reveals that if the Arabs had simply embraced rather than demonized Israel from the start - a fully rational and deserved embrace that would have been enthusiastically welcomed by all Israelis - the Arab states would have benefited politically, intellectually, medically, scientifically and materially.
Both Israeli 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. In any event, the likelihood of nuclear exchanges would obviously be greatest where potential Arab and/or Iranian aggressors were allowed to deploy ever-larger numbers of unconventional weapons without eliciting appropriate Israeli and/or American preemptions.
The more things change, the more they remain the same. As I have indicated again and again on these pages, Israel remains the openly declared national and religious object of Arab/Islamic genocide. This term is used here, again, in the literal and jurisprudential sense. It is not merely hyperbole or an exaggerated figure of speech.
Although The Group drew explicitly upon contemporary strategic thinking, we were also mindful of certain much-earlier investigations of war, power and survival. One such still-relevant investigation was identified in Sun-Tzu's classic, The Art of War.
"We are often asked," said the late Italian Jew and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi, in The Drowned and the Saved, "as if our past conferred a prophetic ability upon us, whether Auschwitz will return." However we might choose to answer such a terrible but unavoidable question, the Jewish past seems not to have conferred the most indispensable abilities to anticipate new and still-possible genocides.
International law is not a suicide pact. This particular sentence should be very familiar to this column's readers. Every state facing plainly existential harms always has the right to defend itself beforebeing attacked. In the increasingly urgent matter of Israel and Iran, a subject on which I have been commenting for some time, any further delay in undertaking permissible acts of preemption could irrevocably doom the Jewish state.
In the past I have written about global anarchy and its strategic implications for Israel. Today, I want to assess something far more specific and ominous: global chaotic disintegration. Such an unraveling is already an evident fact of life in several different parts of the world. Moreover, substantial and sudden extensions of this perilous condition to other far-flung parts of our planet are both plausible and probable.
I like this book. Very much. Terrorist Cop will be of interest to all Americans and Israelis who remain deeply concerned (as they should) about our continuing vulnerability to Jihadist terror attacks. It will be of even greater interest, moreover, to readers of The Jewish Press. After all, the author, now retired New York City homicide Detective First Grade Mordecai Dzikansky, spent his distinguished 25-year career as an NYPD "Jewish cop."
Let me return very specifically topreemption, 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.
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.
Fourth, the Obama anti-nuclear vision does not provide any useful guidance on how to deal with those refractory states and sub-states that may not be subject to ordinary deterrent threats. This brings to mind the perplexing security problem of prospective enemy irrationality.
From the beginning, Israel has successfully managed to craft its overriding strategic doctrine apart from any specific U.S. expectations. To be sure, keeping its "bomb in the basement" has been at least partially a response to expressed American wishes. After all, any explicit end to nuclear ambiguity could have proven unacceptable to Washington. Still, all other core doctrinal considerations of nuclear force structure, basing, targeting and nuclear retaliatory thresholds have likely been fashioned, quite correctly, to suit only Israel.
Si vis pacem, para bellum atomicum. "If you want peace, prepare for atomic war." However reluctantly, this must be Israel's overriding strategic mantra in the years ahead. This is not because a nuclear war is especially likely, but rather because Israel's nuclear deterrent will remain indispensable for the prevention of large-scale conventional conflict.
President Obama has hitherto accepted the language of a "moderate" Palestinian Authority. The PA and its associates are distinctly obligated to refrain from incitement against Israel. Going back even to the legal antecedents of the current peace process, the Interim Agreement (Oslo 2) stated, at Article XXII, that Israel and the PA "shall seek to foster mutual understanding and tolerance and shall accordingly abstain from incitement, including hostile propaganda, against each other...." In the Note for the Record, which accompanied the Hebron Protocol of January 15,1997, the PA reaffirmed its commitment regarding "Preventing Incitement and Hostile Propaganda, as specified in Article XXII of the Interim Agreement." Substantially familiar if more general reaffirmations can readily be found in the Road Map.
But what has all this to do with present-day Israel, the recent American elections, and the Obama Road Map? For a very long time, certainly for the past dozen years, specifically anti-Jewish and anti-Israel diatribes have been standard fare on Palestinian Authority, Syrian, Egyptian, Saudi Arabian and Hezbollah television. As for the Arab print-media, even in "moderate" Jordan, the general and unrelenting theme remains that Jewish "infidels" are distinctly less than human, basically degenerate and suitable only for sacrificial (terrorist) killing.