Israel’s strategy of conflict has, at least in part, been founded upon multiple theoretical miscalculations, and upon a stubborn indifference to certain primary and flagrant enemy manipulations. The exterminatory policies of Israel’s enemies, on the other hand, remain founded upon correct calculations and assumptions and an astute awareness of Israel’s strategic naiveté. More than anything else, this means Israel’s prime minister should now make far-reaching changes in the way that Israel actually conceptualizes the continuum of cooperation and conflict.
A “new Israel,” ridding itself of injurious and disingenuous wishful thinking, should finally acknowledge the zero-sum calculations of its enemies, thus accepting that a constant struggle must still be fought at the conflict end of the spectrum. Earlier, this meant, especially in the case of Iran, primary attention to then still-plausible preemption imperatives. Now, however, such imperatives are more apt to be fulfilled via certain forms of cyber-warfare and targeted killings than through the more usual sorts of physical military destruction.
Left unexamined, Israel’s mistaken assumptions, and the combining of these assumptions with more correct premises of its enemies, could lethally undermine Israel’s survival. These still-remediable Israeli errors have had the additional effect of creating an odd “alliance” between Israel and its enemies. This is surely not the sort of coalition that can ever help the Jewish state, but is rather a one-sided and unreciprocated “pact” in which Israel unwittingly and inexcusably serves its enemies.
To be sure, Netanyahu should not become the best ally Israel’s Arab enemies and Iran could ever hope to have. Rather, he should seek to serve Israel’s long-term survival with real wisdom, supplanting the plainly false assumptions that stem from persistently misguided hopes with genuinely correct premises that are based upon sound reasoning.
In the end, Israel’s choices are really all about logic.
In the language of formal logic, invalid forms of argument are called fallacies. The basic problem with Israel’s continuous search for “peace” through negotiated surrenders (land for nothing) has been its persistent commission of fallacies.
Unlike simple instances of falsity, these arguments are insidious because they could involve a devastating policy outcome. Distinguishable from singular mistakes, these deviations from correct thinking ensure that all subsequent calculations will also result in error. This means it is in the very process of strategic thinking, and not in the assessment of particular facts and issues, that Israeli policy changes are now most sorely needed.
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.