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Power And Survival (Second of Two Parts)

Louis Rene Beres

Louis Rene Beres

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As I noted here last week, “the situation of survival is the central situation of power. Yet, as the ‘Middle East peace process’ makes Israel’s survival more and more problematic, this enterprise now effectively deprives Israel of its power. Left to proceed, the process will eventually permit Israel’s enemies to enjoy a triumph that still remains cleverly concealed, the conspicuous triumph experienced by certain still-living persons, when confronted by the powerless one who is dying.”

I was referring to the ultimate triumph of power, a presumed victory over death. Israel’s enemies understand this power. Israel does not.

An enemy of Israel, state or non-state, cannot possibly kill as many Israelis as his primal passion for survival may demand. This means, inter alia, that he may seek to induce or direct others to satisfy this passion. As a practical matter, this deflectionary behavior points toward an undeniable impulse for genocide, an inclination that could be actualized, in the future, by resort to higher-order forms of terrorism (chemical/biological/nuclear), and/or unconventional forms of war.

Israel, not quite 70 years old, still has much to learn. But before its leaders can fully understand the true nature of enemy intentions and capabilities, they must first acknowledge the vital connections between power and survival. Once it can be understood that enemy definitions of the former are contingent upon Israel’s loss of the latter, these leaders will be positioned intellectually to take appropriate remedial action.

At the outset, such action must entail a complete reversal of the so-called peace process, a largely self-inflicted wound, which, if left to proceed, would ultimately fulfill the fondest enemy hopes for power over death.

The true goal of Israel’s enemies – a goal furthered measurably by the peace process – is as grotesque as it is unrecognized. It is to be left standing, while Israel has been made to disappear. In essence, these relentless enemies must survive Israel so that Israel does not survive them. They cannot, by this reasoning, survive together.

So long as Israel exists, they cannot meaningfully endure themselves.

So long as Israel is “allowed” to exist, no matter how cooperative it may be, these enemies will not feel safe; they will not feel powerful.

It is time this true goal was recognized. Without such recognition, the dreadful foolishness of prevailing political thought in Israel’s government and universities may well continue to be taken seriously, a circumstance that could have genuinely fatal survival outcomes for the Jewish state.

With such recognition, this lethal foolishness could be revealed widely for what it is, the ill-conceived product of “experts,” of miseducated specialists, and also of politicians who have never had a serious thought or idea in their regrettable professional lives.

What a mistake it is for Israel to believe that Reason governs the world. The true source of governance on this earth is Power, and power is ultimately the conquest of death. This conquest, which displays a zero-sum quality among Israel’s enemies, is not limited to conflicts in the Middle East. Rather, it is a generic matter, a more or less universal effort that is merely made especially manifest between Israel and its enemies.

On this generic matter, one should consider the remark of the Romanian playwright Eugene Ionesco (in his Journal in 1966). Describing killing as an affirmation of one’s own survival, Ionesco observed:

I must kill my visible enemy, the one who is determined to take my life, to prevent him from killing me. Killing gives me a feeling of relief, because I am dimly aware that in killing him, I have killed death. My enemy’s death cannot be held against me, it is no longer a source of anguish, if I killed him with the approval of society; that is the purpose of war. Killing is a way of relieving one’s feelings, of warding off one’s own death.”

While Israel’s enemies accept the zero-sum linkages between power and survival, Israel does not. Although this may suggest that Israel stands on a higher moral plane than its enemies, it also places the Jewish state at a marked security disadvantage.

This consequential asymmetry between Israel and its enemies may be addressed by reducing enemy emphases on power-survival connections and/or by Israel placing an increased emphasis on power-survival connections.

The first option is effectively impossible; the second would require extraordinary national excursions from idealism toward realpolitik. Must Israel ultimately become a barbarous state in order to endure? Must it learn to identify true power with its survival over others, a survival that cannot abide the endurance of its enemies?

What is required is not a replication of enemy barbarism, but a policy that recognizes such barbarism as the essential starting point for Israel’s own national security and national defense. With such recognition, the present “peace Process” could be rejected immediately, and an altogether new one, based on Israel’s commitment to “remain standing” at all costs, could be implemented.

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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.


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