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December 18, 2014 / 26 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘enemy’

Treat Terrorists like Pirates

Wednesday, August 14th, 2013

International law today paralyzes civilized nations in their war against terrorism. In fact, Israel’s former Supreme Court Chief Justice Aharon Barak once bragged that “we fight against the terrorists with one arm tied behind our back.” But in my view, phony liberals who warn that we shouldn’t “sink to the level of the enemy” are pretentious, racist, and hypocritical.

Few among us understand that the most ancient foundations of international law are supposed to bolster, not weaken the war against terrorism. The historic parallel to today’s terrorist organizations are the pirates, those gangs of outlaws who instilled fear in the hearts of passengers on land and sea, and were defined as early as the time of the Roman Empire as “enemies of humanity.”

In the Paris Declaration of 1865, the political powers of the time outlawed the pirates. The UN conventions of 1958 and 1982 defined piracy as an international crime. The purpose and the method of today’s terrorists are identical to those of the pirates.

This means that by the very fact that they’re fighting against the law itself, they are not entitled to the protection afforded citizens of countries, nor the protection of international law as soldiers of a sovereign state. Therefore international law permits any person any place to attack and capture or kill pirates. The very membership in a gang of pirates excludes the members from the law and removes all their legal rights.

Jurist Douglas R. Burgess Jr. (The Dread Pirate Bin Laden, Legal Affairs, 2005) has argued that, like piracy, the crime of terrorism should be “defined and proscribed internationally, so that terrorists would be properly understood as enemies of all states.” Consequently it should become the law that anyone who offers terrorists shelter or congregates near them must also be considered a criminal and the enemy of all of humanity.

Whatever step that needs to be taken in pursuit of the war against terrorists will hence be considered legal.

Terrorists must understand that any law that they break ceases to exist for them and will no longer offer them protection. If they intentionally attack a civilian population, they must understand that the attacked party will intentionally attack their civilians. If they kidnap people for ransom, they must understand that their own peaceful civilians will be kidnapped in return.

For this matter, anyone who participates in a demonstration supporting Hezbollah, Hamas, the PLO or any other terror organization must understand that he or she will become a legitimate target for elimination or arrest.

The international establishment must change the rules of engagement regarding terrorists, and start acting against them and their communities using their methods. This is not only the righteous and moral thing to do, it is also a legitimate policy based on the foundations of international law.

Legal experts in the west in general and in Israel in particular must cease protecting the enemies of civilization and the law and devote their skills to the defense of the free society that nourishes them.

Is It against Israeli Law to Fight with Syrian Rebels?

Monday, July 8th, 2013

An Israeli court on Monday sentenced an Arab with Israeli citizenship to 30 months in jail for traveling to the enemy state of Syria, where he joined the rebels for a week before changing his mind when he was asked to carry out a suicide attack in Israel.

State prosecutors charged him with training with radical Islamists in Syria, but a court in Lod, near Tel Aviv, decided against imposing the maximum 15-year jail sentence on the man because, according to Judge Avraham Yaakov, “There’s no legal guidance regarding the rebel groups fighting in Syria.”

Israel arrested Hikmat Massarwa in March after he returned to the country from Syria, via Turkey, after having sought out his brother. He is fighting with the rebels, assuming he still is alive.

He argued that although Syrian President Bassar al-Assad and the government of Syria are enemies of Israel, the rebels are not a danger to the country.

Since the “friendly” rebels asked him to kill as many Israelis as possible in a suicide attack, Massarwa finally pleaded guilty to travelling to a hostile country and meeting with foreign agents. The charges of training with an illegal militia were dropped, and Massarwa admitted that his short adventure could have threatened Israel’s security.

If nothing else, the case proves that whoever wins in Syria, if anyone ever does, Israel will be faced with an enemy state.

The case also is one more in a growing list of Arabs with Israeli citizenship who work with Hezbollah, Hamas and other terrorist groups to work against the country. The vast majority of Israeli Arabs are not considered to be openly hostile to the country, but  a growing ”Fifth Column,” incited by radical Arab Knesset Members, has raised concerns in the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet).

There is no massive wave of Israeli Arabs working against the country, but there are large areas of blatant anti-Israeli activity, particularly in the Bedouin city of Tel Sheva, adjacent to Be’er Sheva, and in the Islamic Movement’s northern branch in Umm el Faham.

For Israel, What Next In The Matter Of Iran? (First of Three Parts)

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Israel’s final decision concerning what to do about a nuclear Iran will depend on answers to certain core psychological questions. Is the Iranian adversary rational, valuing national survival more highly than any other preference, or combination of preferences? Or, on even a single occasion, is this enemy more apt to prove itself irrational, thereby choosing to value certain preferences more highly than the country’s indispensable physical security?

It is also possible that authoritative Iranian decision-makers could be neither rational or irrational but mad. In such unlikely, but especially daunting, circumstances, deterrence would no longer serve any conceivable Israeli strategic purpose. At that point, Jerusalem’s only effectively remaining policy choice would be: (1) to hope for regime change in Tehran, but otherwise passively await Israel’s destruction, or (2) to strike first itself, preemptively, whatever the global outcry, and irrespective of the shattering military consequences.

These are not frivolous or contrived descriptions of presumed Iranian leadership orientations. To be sure, the resultant wisdom of any considered Israeli preemption will ultimately depend on choosing correctly, and on reliably anticipating Iranian judgments over an extended period of time. For genuine safety, Israel must prepare to make decisions that are subtle, nuanced, and of protracted utility.

This is not the time to confuse conventional meanings with strategic precision. Even an irrational Iranian leadership could maintain a distinct and determinable hierarchy of preferences. Unlike trying to influence a “mad” leadership, therefore, it could still be purposeful for Israel to attempt deterrence of such a “merely” irrational adversary.

More than likely, Iran is not a mad or crazy state. Though it is true, at least doctrinally, that Iran’s political and clerical leaders could sometime decide to welcome the Shiite apocalypse, and even its associated destructions, these enemy decision-makers might still remain subject to certain different sorts of deterrent threats.

Faced with such extraordinary circumstances, conditions under which an already nuclear Iran could not be effectively prevented from striking first by threatening the usual harms of retaliatory destruction, Israel would need to identify, in advance, less orthodox but still promising, forms of reprisal.

Such eccentric kinds of reprisal would inevitably center upon those preeminent religious preferences and institutions that remain most indisputably sacred to Shiite Iran.

For Israel, facing a rational adversary would undoubtedly be best. A presumably rational leadership in Tehran would make it significantly easier for Jerusalem to reasonably forego the preemption option. In these more predictable circumstances, Iran could still be reliably deterred by some or all of the standard military threats available to states, credible warnings that are conspicuously linked to “assured destruction.”

But it is not for Israel to choose the preferred degree of enemy rationality.

Unless there is an eleventh-hour defensive first strike by Israel – a now improbable attack that would most likely follow an authoritative determination of actual or prospective Iranian “madness” – a new nuclear adversary in the region will make its appearance. For Israel, this portentous development would then mandate a prudent and well thought out plan for coexistence. Then, in other words, Israel would have to learn to “live with” a nuclear Iran.

There would be no reasonable alternative.

And it would be a complex and problematic education. Forging such a requisite policy of nuclear deterrence would require, among other things, (1) reduced ambiguity about particular elements of Israel’s strategic forces; (2) enhanced and partially disclosed nuclear targeting options; (3) substantial and partially revealed programs for improved active defenses; (4) certain recognizable steps to ensure the perceived survivability of its nuclear retaliatory forces, including more or less explicit references to Israeli sea-basing of such forces; (5) further expansion of preparations for both cyber-defense and cyber-war; and, in order to bring together all of these complex and intersecting enhancements in a coherent mission plan, and (6) a comprehensive strategic doctrine.

Additionally, because of the residual but serious prospect of Iranian irrationality – not madness – Israel’s military planners will have to identify suitable ways of ensuring that even a nuclear “suicide state” could be deterred. Such a uniquely perilous threat could actually be very small, but, if considered together with Iran’s Shiite eschatology, it might still not be negligible.

Further, while the expected probability of having to face such an irrational enemy state could be very low, the expected disutility or anticipated harm of any single deterrence failure could be flat out unacceptable.

(Continued Next Week)

Dear Abba: They Won’t Send Us in

Tuesday, November 20th, 2012

Dear Abba,

Thanks you for your letters. And for writing them in English. I don’t understand all the words, but one of my friends, Johnny, the “chayal boded” from America who spent a few Shabbat with us because he doesn’t have any family in Israel, he translates for me what I don’t know. He likes your letters too. We all call him “Stallone” because of his heavy American accent, and because he’s so eager to go into action to “wipe out the Apaches” as he calls the Hamas. All day long, he badgers the commanders, wanting to know what’s holding things up. He’s like the spring on an Uzi, ready to fire. All of us are.

I’m writing in Hebrew because it would take me all day to write an SMS in English. Sorry I was so groggy when you phoned me this morning. I didn’t get much sleep last night because of the flies. We’re stationed on the edge of the Negev and the flies here are ferocious. I don’t know what’s worse, the grad missiles over Beer Sheva or the flies. Maybe Hashem is sending them to get us out of our sleeping bags and into action. I wish He would send them to Bibi and Barak, so they’d give the orders already. What are they waiting for?

We have a lot of free time here while we’re waiting for the green light to go into Aza, and we talk about the things you have written, in our own way, but let me assure that the moral is extremely high – everyone wants to go in. As you know, we only have another two more months before we finish our service and everyone is happy that we finally have a chance to do something important for the country.

If you were here, you’d think we were off to a wedding, the spirit and joy is so great. Among the soldiers there isn’t any indecision or argument like there is in the media. I don’t listen to the radio anymore because of the talk all day long about whether it’s worthwhile or not to send troops into Aza. This is a war isn’t it? The Hamas is making a joke out of Israel and we have to teach them a lesson. Not everyone here is religious but everyone feels the honor of Israel is at stake. If you ask me, it’s more than regular patriotism. Even soldiers who never studied Torah understand that this is a war of good over evil, and everyone is ready to go into battle with “Shema Yisrael” on their lips. Not surprisingly, minyans are packed.

If we don’t get the orders to go into Gaza, every soldier is going to be very disappointed. I can’t speak about the reservists who have been called up, but our guys are counting the seconds until we get the OK. No one is afraid. Every one of our commandos is like 10 Rambos. Guys aren’t worried about dying. The opposite – they’re dying to get into action.

We learned in Lebanon that we can’t defeat the enemy with our Air Force alone. What’s the point of a truce that will last for three weeks until Hamas fires more rockets at Israel? Why not finish the job once and for all? My unit has been training for almost three years how to wage combat in populated areas. We’re ready. We all know what the dangers are. That’s what our training is all about. We’re not here against our will. We want to do the job. Not just to kill Arabs to pay them back for all the Israelis they’ve killed without any distinction. We want to destroy the Hamas and the Jihad because we all know it’s the right thing to do.

I sense the country is behind us – certainly the people of the south, and now in Tel Aviv. In a way it’s good that finally they hear the sirens there too, instead of just watching the missile attacks on TV.

I invited Yonaton to be with us the first Shabbat we’re free. I know it’s all right with you and Ema. Give her my love and tell her not to worry – even though I know that she’ll worry all the same. Right now, I’m fine, but if this waiting game continues, I may need more socks, and I forgot the cream against foot allergies, so if you decide to drive down, bring them with you. Ema knows where everything is. I’m pretty sure the roads to our base are still open.

Give my love to everyone.

Noam

I forgot to ask on the phone – how are Saba and Safta in Ashkelon?

 

Hamas Propaganda is Terror Art

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Israel does not target, with malice aforethought, children and other non-fighter populace.

50,000 warning phone calls were made last week to residents at potential locations that could be attacked.

Hamas places its weaponery amidst the civilian population. Its rockets also kill their own children when they explode on ignition or fall short.

poster like this

is not only horrendously gruesome and posed but evil misrepresentation.

With an enemy like this, with its warped logic, there is no common language.

Visit My Right Word.

Incidentism

Monday, November 19th, 2012

Once upon a time it was the objective of the military to win wars. Now the objective of the military is to avoid incidents.

An incident happens when civilians are killed, prisoners mistreated or some other event that is photographed, videotaped and then flashed around the world. This results in an Incident, capital I, that triggers much artificial soul-searching by the media which spends the next two years beating the incident to death and flogging its corpse across television programs, newspaper articles, books, documentaries and finally, if it’s a big enough incident, a real life movie version that is based on the book, which was based on the article, where the idealistic reporter/lawyer/activist who uncovered the truth about the incident will be played by Matt Damon or George Clooney.

The main objective of the military in most civilized countries is to prevent this chain of articles, programs, books, documentaries, dramatized plays and Matt Damon movies from coming about by making sure that no Incident can ever happen. And the best way to do that is by not fighting. And if the enemy insists on fighting, then he must be fought with razor sharp precision so that no collateral damage takes place. And if someone must die, it had better be our own soldiers, rather than anyone on the other side whose death might be used as an Incident.

Incidentism isn’t derived from a fear of Matt Damon movies, but from the perception that wars are not won on the battlefield, but in the minds of men. And that perception has a good deal to do with the kind of wars we choose to fight.

The military, whether in the United States or Israel, does not exist to win wars. It exists to win over the people who don’t want it to win a war.

The guiding principle in such conflicts is to use the military to push back the insurgency long enough to win over the local population with a nation building exercise. This program has never worked out for the United States, but that doesn’t mean that generations of military leaders don’t insist on going through the motions of applying it anyway.

In Israel, the last time the military was sent to win a war, was 1973. Since then the military has been used as a police force and to battle militias in Lebanon, Gaza and the West Bank. In the Territories, the ideal Israeli soldier was supposed to be able to dodge rocks thrown by teenagers hired by Time correspondents looking to score a great photo. Today the ideal Israeli soldier is capable of visiting an American college campus to dodge the overpriced textbooks hurled at him by the local branch of Students for Justice in Palestine or the International Socialist Organization, while explaining why the IDF is the most moral army in the world except for the Salvation Army.

The ideal Israeli soldier, like his American, British and Canadian, but not Russian or Chinese, counterparts, is supposed to avoid Incidents. That means operating under Rules of Engagement which make firing at an assailant almost as dangerous as not firing at an assailant.

The ideal American soldier is supposed to avoid the Taliban, or as one set of orders urged, patrol in places where the Taliban won’t be found. And that’s sensible advice, because if the goal is to avoid creating an Incident, then avoiding the enemy is the best way to avoid an Incident. Unfortunately the enemy has a bad habit of appearing where he isn’t supposed to be and creating his own Incidents, because Taliban and Hamas commanders are not concerned about being yelled at in a fictional courtroom by Matt Damon. They actually welcome Incidents. The bigger and bloodier the Incident, the more hashish and young boys get passed around the campfire that night.

American soldiers operate under the burden of winning over the hearts and minds of Afghans and New York Times readers. Israeli soldiers are tasked with winning over New York Times readers and European politicians. But some hearts and minds are just unwinnable. And most wars become unwinnable when the goal is to fight an insurgency that has no fear of the dreaded Incident, while your soldiers are taught to be more afraid of an Incident than of an enemy bullet.

Israeli leaders live in perpetual fear of “losing the sympathy of the world”, little aware that they never really had it. The “Sympathy of the World” is the strategic metric for conflicts. And so Israel does its best to minimize any collateral damage by using pinpoint strikes and developing technologies that can pluck a bee off a flower without harming a single petal. But invariably the technocratic genius of such schemes has its limits, an Incident happens, the Israeli leftist press denounces the Prime Minister for clumsily losing the sympathy of the world, and international politicians order Israel to retreat back behind whatever line it retreated to during the last appeasement gesture before the last peace negotiations. And its experts ponder how to fight the next one without losing the sympathy of the world.

American and Israeli generals live in fear of losing political support and so they never put any plans on the table that would finish a conflict. Instead they choose low intensity warfare with prolonged bleeding instead of short and brutal engagements that would finish the job. They talk tough, but their enemies know that they don’t mean it. Worse still, that they aren’t allowed to mean it because meaning it would be too mean.

Incidentism leads to armies tiptoeing around conflicts and losing them by default. Avoiding them becomes the objective and that also makes Incidents inevitable because the enemy understands that all it will take to win is a few dead children planted in the ruins of a building; in a region where parents kill their own children for petty infractions and frequently go unpunished for it. The more an army commits to Incidentism, the sooner its war is lost. Prolonged low intensity conflicts are ripe with opportunities for Incidents, far more so that hot and rapid wars. And so the hearts and minds, those of the locals and those of New York Times readers, always end up being lost anyway.

War is no longer just politics by other means, it actually is politics with the goal of winning over hearts and minds, rather than achieving objectives. The objectives of a war, before, during and after, have become those of convincing your friends and your enemies, and various neutral parties, of your innate goodness and the justice of your cause. Propaganda then has become the whole of war and those who excel at propaganda, but aren’t any good at war, now win the wars. The actual fighting is just the awkward part that the people who make the propaganda wish we could dispense with so they can focus on what’s really important; distributing photos of our soldiers protecting the local children and playing with their puppies.

Take all that into account and the miserable track records of great armies are no longer surprising. Armies need to prove their morality to win a war, but are never allowed to win a war because it would interfere with proving their morality. Conflicts begin on the triumphant moral high ground and end with the victors slinking back defeated after an Incident or two has been splashed all over the evening news and the book based on the article on it has already been optioned by Matt Damon’s production company for a movie to be funded by the same people who fund the terrorists.

The war of words, the conflict of images and videos, the clash of arguments, has become the sum of war. And that war is unwinnable because it must be fought on two fronts, against the cultural enemies within and the insurgents outside.

An army cannot win a war and win over the New York Times at the same time. And so long as it fears Incidents more than operating in an aimless counterinsurgency twilight that eventually shades into defeat, then it is bound to lose both to both the terrorists and the New York Times.

Originally published at Sultan Knish.

Nuclear Posture And Israel’s Survival

Thursday, November 1st, 2012

Nuclear weapons and nuclear war. This is not a new subject for my column in The Jewish Press. What is new is the urgent need to confront, head on, an expanding international movement to eviscerate Israel’s nuclear posture – and at precisely the precarious moment when this critical posture should actually be made more visible, and hence, more compelling.

Si vis pacem, para bellum atomicum. “If you want peace, prepare for atomic war.” At first glance it would seem an odd maxim for Israel, perhaps a misconceived admission of belligerence, or even an embarrassingly empty witticism.

Still, however reluctantly, this maxim must become Israel’s core strategic mantra in the years just ahead. This is not because a nuclear war is necessarily likely, but rather because Israel’s nuclear deterrent will remain utterly indispensable for the prevention of large-scale conventional conflict.

Nonetheless, the myriad threats facing Israel are not mutually exclusive. With Iran’s steady and unhindered nuclearization, an eventual nuclear war, or even a “bolt-from-the-blue” nuclear attack, cannot be ruled out. Considered together with the plausible understanding that an Iranian nuclear enemy could be driven by apocalyptic visions of jihad, this means Israel’s military planners will need to augment credible strategic deterrence with apt forms of diplomacy, ballistic missile defense, and (possibly) preemption.

At the moment, this last option might already be limited to cyber-attacks, assassinations and/or regime-change interventions, and/or to certain more traditional sorts of defensive physical harms. Jurisprudentially, all of these kinds of preemption could be considered as entirely proper expressions of “anticipatory self-defense.

Now, Israel must simultaneously examine the strongly related and inter-penetrating issue of a Palestinian state. If President Obama or his successor should persist with the so-called Road Map To Peace in the Middle East, an independent state of Palestine could still be carved out of Israel. Palestine would then become an additional and largely optimal platform for launching future war and terror.

President Obama still seeks “a world free of nuclear weapons.” However, the existential threat posed by a Palestinian state would require some forms of prior Israeli nuclear disarmament. Once a new enemy state and its allies believed that Israel had been bent sufficiently to their nicely-phrased “nonproliferation” demands, an adversarial military strategy could progress rapidly from terror to war, and subsequently from attrition to annihilation.

Any discernible movement toward Israeli denuclearization could remove the tiny country’s last stage barrier to national survival.

To be sure, Israel’s unilateral nuclear disarmament is improbable. But it is not entirely out of the question. For whatever reason, certain of the country’s leading academic strategists continue to advance this plainly insupportable recommendation. I have debated these strategists myself, most recently on the pages of Harvard University’s leading journal, International Security.

True, it is generally difficult to imagine nuclear weapons as anything other than implements of evil. Still, there are circumstances wherein a particular state’s possession of such weapons may be all that protects it from catastrophic war or genocide. Moreover, because such weapons may most effectively deter international aggression, at least in those cases where the prospective aggressor remains rational, their possession could also protect neighboring states (both friends and foes) from war-related, or even nuclear-inflicted harms.

Not all members of the Nuclear Club must necessarily represent a security threat. Some such members may even offer a distinct benefit to world peace and security. This point should already be clear to anyone who can remember the Cold War.

Should Israel ever be deprived of its nuclear forces because of naive hopes for peace, it could become vulnerable to overwhelming attacks from enemy states. Though such an existential vulnerability might be prevented, in principle, by simultaneously instituting parallel forms of chemical/biological weapons disarmament among these enemies, such parallel steps would never actually be undertaken. Meaningful verification of compliance in these complex matters is very difficult. Further, any such verification would become even more problematic in those conceivable cases wherein several enemy states might be involved.

It is time to be clear. Nuclear weapons are not the problem per se. In the volatile Middle East, the core threat to peace remains a far-reaching and unreconstructed jihadist commitment to “excise the Jewish cancer.”

Jerusalem should finally understand that the Road Map, like the prior Oslo agreements, is merely a convenient enemy expedient. Taken seriously in Jerusalem, it could easily become a cartographic detour to national oblivion.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/nuclear-posture-and-israels-survival/2012/11/01/

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