Medieval maps typically portrayed Jerusalem at the center of the world. From the standpoint of nuclear strategy and world peace, such a portrayal has exceptional validity today. Confronted with relentlessly genocidal state and non-state enemies, some of which energetically seek weapons of mass destruction, Israel must now quickly fashion a coherent and pragmatic strategic doctrine. Recognizing this urgent requirement, the Project Daniel Group undertook to prepare its unprecedented Final Report to the Prime Minister.
Looking back over the previous nine special columns on Project Daniel, my readers have been able to consider the broad range of Group recommendations contained in Israel’s Strategic Future. These recommendations concern, inter alia, the manifest need for an expanded policy of preemption; an ongoing re-evaluation of “nuclear ambiguity;” recognizable preparations for appropriate “countervalue” 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.
Along the way we have also explored vital differences between rational and non-rational adversaries; changing definitions of existential harms; legal elements of “anticipatory self-defense;” possibilities for peaceful dispute settlements in the region; budgetary constraints and opportunities; maintaining Israel’s qualitative edge; preparations for “regime targeting;” and implications for Israel of the growing anarchy in world affairs.
Although we have covered a lot of ground in these special columns, and, of course, also in the actual Report upon which they have been based, Israel’s Strategic Future must be understood as a work in progress. The geostrategic context within which Israel must fashion its future is continually evolving, and so, accordingly, must Israel’s strategic doctrine. Ultimately, it must be from such doctrine that the Jewish state’s particular policies will have to be derived and implemented.
American defense policy under President George W. Bush gathers into a single comprehensive whole several interrelated doctrines for deterrence, defense, war fighting and preemption. Codified during 2002 in The National Security Strategy of the United States of America and National Strategy to Combat weapons of Mass Destruction, this policy offers a coherent doctrine from which specific tactical and strategic options may be suitably drawn. Notwithstanding substantial security differences between our two countries, and even the obvious failures of the Bush Doctrine in Iraq, a similarly institutionalized plan could now serve to enhance Israel’s defense posture.
Since the presentation of our original document to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on January 16, 2003, there have been a few minor “victories” in the effort to control WMD proliferation among Israel’s enemies. The most obvious case in point, in addition to Iraq, is Libya. At the same time, the circumstances in North Korea (which has manifest ties to some of Israel’s regional enemies), Iran and Pakistan remain highly volatile and dangerous. There is also evidence of expanding WMD ambitions in Egypt, and Syria has been smuggling components for WMD weapons to Sudan in an attempt to keep them hidden from outside inspection. At the level of terrorist groups, which are sustained by several Arab/Islamic states, new alignments are being fashioned between various Palestinian organizations and al Qaeda. The precise configurations of these alignments are complex and multifaceted, to be sure, but the net effect for Israel is unmistakably serious.
Israel’s Strategic Future is founded on the presumption that current threats of war, terrorism and genocide derive from a very clear “clash of civilizations,” and not merely from narrow geostrategic differences. Both Israel and the United States are unambiguously in the cross-hairs of a worldwide Arab/Islamic “Jihad” that is fundamentally cultural/theological in nature, and that will not concede an inch to conventional norms of “coexistence” or “peaceful settlement.” This situation of ongoing danger to “unbelievers” is hardly a pleasing one for Jerusalem and Washington, but it is one that must now be acknowledged forthrightly and dealt with intelligently.
The ongoing war in Iraq has demonstrated the evident weaknesses of national intelligence agencies in providing critical warnings and in enhancing strategic stability. Israel, itself, is not without a history of serious intelligence failure, and Israel’s strategic future will require an enhanced intelligence infrastructure and highly-refined “backup systems.” Facing growing isolation in the world community, it will also have to fend for itself more than ever before. In the end, Israel’s survival will depend upon plans and postures of its own making, and these plans and postures will themselves require a broader and more creative pattern of strategic studies as a disciplined field of inquiry.
We learn from Ecclesiastes (34: 1) that “Vain hopes delude the senseless, and dreams give wings to a fool’s fancy.” Israel’s strategic future is fraught with existential risk and danger; it is essential, therefore, that friends of Israel now approach this future with utter realism and candor. A WMD war against the Jewish state would likely be undertaken as a distinct form of genocide, and there can be no greater obligation for Israel than to ensure protection for Jews from such crimes against humanity. It is with the terrible but sober understanding that the Holocaust can take new forms at the beginning of the 21st century.
(c)copyright, The Jewish Press, 2004. All rights reserved.
LOUIS RENE BERES (Ph.D. Princeton, 1971) lectures and publishes widely on international relations and international law. He is Chair of Project Daniel as well as Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press. “The Project Daniel Final Report to Prime Minister Sharon, Israel’s Strategic Future,” can be accessed online at the Ariel Center/NATIV website, or by mail (Policy Paper # 155) from the Ariel Center for Policy Research.