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Posts Tagged ‘enemy’

The Post-Structuralist Version of the Sermon on the Mount

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Ms. Butler fights the regressive “my side, right or wrong” with the liberating “your side, right or wrong.” It’s the post-structuralist version of the Sermon on the Mount: “Love thy enemy more than thyself.” But what if that enemy embraces a savage form of loving themselves and hating us? What if it takes an extreme interpretation of Muslims’ edict to “love and hate for Allah’s sake”? This enemy makes all our utopian and multiculturalist projects impossible. — Benjamin Weinthal and Richard Landes, “The Post-Self-Destructivism of Judith Butler.”

Judith Butler is an American academic (philosophy) known for her quick mind, impenetrable prose and anti-Israel activism. The quotation is from an article about the controversy surrounding her selection by the city of Frankfurt to receive its important Adorno Prize for excellence in philosophy, music, theater and film.

I’ll leave it to Weinthal and Landes to describe the particular trouble with Ms Butler and the Germans, and to others to evaluate her academic work, which (despite my philosophy degrees) is far beyond my understanding.

But I find the quotation above perceptive, illuminating perfectly how Westerners fail to conceptualize the struggle that we find ourselves in (or don’t recognize!) today. Despite our obsession with diversity, we fail to understand precisely how some cultures are diverse.

Virtually all humans favor their own family members, especially their children, over unrelated humans. This is an innate characteristic that can be explained as a result of natural selection: those humans who behave like this are more likely to pass on their DNA to future generations.

Tribalism is an expansion of this ‘family’ preference to larger groups — extended family, tribe, people, nation. The evolutionary argument to explain it is a bit more complicated: those groups made up of individuals who tend to favor members of their own group and to display hostility to other groups are more likely to dominate others, obtain choice land and hunting grounds, and survive as groups, thus promoting the survival of their members, who will pass on their ‘tribalist’ genes.

What we call ‘patriotism’ is a fellow-feeling that applies to a very large unit, the nation. It is an extrapolation of the same feeling that we have for smaller groups.

Natural selection works because of environmental pressures, so societies in different environments have evolved different degrees of tribalism. Nomadic peoples often come into contact and conflict with ‘strange’ groups that they must either dominate or be dominated by. Settled agricultural peoples, on the other hand, rarely meet strangers, and can even obtain an advantage by cooperating with neighboring tribes rather than fighting with them.

The Hebrew Bible is (among many other things) an expression of tribalism along with rules for cooperation when appropriate (e.g., treating the stranger who dwells among us well).  The ancient Hebrews were a nomadic people and behaved like one; later, the Prophets spoke to a primarily agricultural population.

Christianity and liberal Judaism went much further, suggesting that the favored treatment previously reserved for tribe members should be expanded to all humankind. Judith Butler and other Jewish anti-Zionists often claim that their anti-Zionism is based on Jewish ethics — by which of course they mean a very liberal or even Christianized Judaism, one which depends on a special way of reading the Torah (or often on not reading it).

Today, as has happened numerous times before in history,  massive cultures or empires are coming into conflict with one another. One side is radical Islam, whose basic principles are drawn directly from the culture of nomadic Arabs of the Seventh Century. Many of their leadersare Arabs, who are only a few generations removed from a nomadic lifestyle and whose culture reflects this.

On the other side we have people of European heritage, formerly farmers, whose culture was profoundly influenced by Christianity (even if they reject it today).

Both sides imagine their place on the spectrum of tribalism as an absolute moral principle. The Islamists are certain that the proper world order is for the infidels to submit, and violence and war in order to bring this about is not only not wrong, it is profoundly right.

The West, on the other hand, believes in peace and above all, cooperation. It believes that war is only justified in self-defense, that it is possible to solve all disagreements by negotiation and compromise, the way a farmer negotiates the location of a fence with his neighbor.

US annd Egpytian Air Forces to Practice Together

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

In the upcoming days, the US and the Egyptian Air Forces will run a joint 10-day training exercise. The goal of the exercise is to share knowledge and expertise on joint offensive actions. There is no word on who the joint imaginary enemy will be.

The US team arrived yesterday at the Egyptian army base Gnaklis in Alexandria.

Israel, Iran, And The Shiite Apocalypse (Third of Three Parts)

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

All changed, changed utterly: A terrible beauty is born.
– William Butler Yeats,
“Easter, 1916”

The primary point of Israel’s nuclear forces must be deterrence ex ante, not preemption or reprisal ex post. If, however, nuclear weapons should ever be introduced into a conflict between Israel and one or more of the several states that still wish to destroy it, some form of nuclear war fighting could ensue.

This would be the case so long as: (a) enemy state first-strikes against Israel would not destroy the Jewish state’s second-strike nuclear capability; (b) enemy state retaliations for Israeli conventional preemption would not destroy Israel’s nuclear counter-retaliatory capability; (c) Israeli preemptive strikes involving nuclear weapons would not destroy enemy state second-strike nuclear capabilities; and (d) Israeli retaliation for enemy state conventional first-strikes would not destroy enemy state nuclear counter-retaliatory capabilities.

From the standpoint of protecting its security and survival, this means Israel should now take prompt and immediate steps to ensure the likelihood of (a) and (b) above, and the unlikelihood of (c) and (d). As was clarified by Project Daniel’s final report, “Israel’s Strategic Future” (www.acpr.org.il/ENGLISH-NATIV/03-ISSUE/daniel-3.htm), it’s always in Israel’s interest to avoid nuclear war fighting wherever possible.

For Israel, both 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. Significantly, the likelihood of nuclear exchanges would be greatest wherever potential state aggressors, especially Iran, were allowed to deploy ever-larger numbers of certain unconventional weapons, without eliciting appropriate and effective Israeli preemptions. This point was frequently overlooked by those who persistently opposed still-timely forms of anticipatory self-defense by Israel.

Should enemy nuclear deployments ultimately be allowed, Israel could then effectively forfeit the non-nuclear preemption option. At that point, its only remaining alternatives to nuclear preemption would be: (1) a no-longer viable conventional preemption; or (2) a decision to do nothing, thereby relying for security on the increasingly doubtful logic of nuclear deterrence or “containment,” and the inherently limited protections of ballistic missile defense.

This means, at least in principle, that the risks of any Israeli nuclear preemption, of nuclear exchanges with an enemy state, and of enemy nuclear first strikes, might still be reduced by certain Israeli non-nuclear preemptions.

While still unrecognized in Washington and Jerusalem, there is no greater power in world politics than power over death. The idea of an apocalypse figures scripturally in both Judaism and Christianity, but it very likely appeared for the first time among the Zoroastrians in ancient Persia. Interestingly, but probably without any current conceptual significance, this is basically the same geographic region as modern-day Iran.

For President Ahmadinejad, still in power, and very deeply concerned with power over death, there could be a recognizably “terrible beauty” in transforming the “world of war” into the “world of Islam.” For all who study present-day Iran, this bitter observation is incontestable. After all, for this Iranian president – and more importantly for his assorted clerical masters – an “end of the world” struggle spawned by any such transformation could enticingly open the way, at least for true believers, to a life everlasting.

What promise could conceivably be more satisfying? Though still largely inconspicuous to the generals, the professors, and the political analysts, there can be no greater power on earth than power over death, the incomparable power to overcome mortality. It follows that soon-to-be nuclear Iranian decision-makers, joyously imagining an utterly endless landscape of enemy corpses, could emerge prepared, enthusiastically and unhesitatingly, to become collective martyrs.

In the final analysis, however, we must recall that “irrational” is not the same as “crazy” or “mad,” and that even an irrational Iranian adversary might still be subject to alternate forms of deterrence. Therefore, Iranian leaders who might be willing to sacrifice millions to bring back the missing Twelfth Imam, or Mahdi, could still maintain a consistent and transitive order of different preferences.

In this hierarchy there would be certain core religious institutions and expectations that demand protection. It follows that even an “irrational” Iranian leadership that is willing to absorb massive enemy military strikes against its populations might still not be willing to absorb serious harms to presumably essential core elements of its One true Faith.

Israel, Iran, And The Shiite Apocalypse (Second of Three Parts)

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

For Israel, and also its cross-pressured U.S. ally, there would be very difficult problems to solve if an enemy state such as Iran were permitted to go fully nuclear. These problems could lethally undermine the conceptually neat, but probably unrealistic, notion of balanced nuclear deterrence in the region.

The multi-fragmented Middle East could likely not sustain the sort of comforting equilibrium that once characterized U.S.-Soviet relations. For example, it would be hard to imagine such an area’s successful and long-term reliance upon MAD, or Mutual Assured Destruction.

Whether for reasons of miscalculation, accident, unauthorized capacity to fire, outright irrationality, or the presumed imperatives of jihad, an enemy state in this fevered neighborhood could sometime opt to launch a nuclear first-strike against Israel, in spite of Israel’s own obvious and forseeably secure nuclear capability. A Cold War “balance of terror” could not readily exist in the Middle East.

After absorbing any enemy nuclear aggression, Israel would certainly respond with a nuclear retaliatory strike. Though nothing is publicly known about Israel’s precise targeting doctrine, such a reprisal would almost certainly be launched against the aggressor’s capital city and/or similarly high-value urban targets. There would be no assurances, in response to this particular kind of authentically genocidal aggression, that Israel might limit itself to striking back against exclusively military targets.

But what if enemy first strikes were to involve “only” chemical, and/or “minor” biological weapons? In that case, Israel might still launch a presumptively proportionate nuclear reprisal, but this would depend largely upon Israel’s calculated expectations of follow-on aggression, and also on its associated determinations of comparative damage-limitation.

Should Israel absorb a massive conventional first strike, a nuclear retaliation could not be automatically ruled out. This argument is plausible if: (1) the aggressor were perceived to hold nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction in reserve; and/or (2) Israel’s leaders were to believe that non-nuclear retaliations could not prevent national annihilation.

Recognizing Israel’s exceptionally small size, its calculated threshold of existential harms could be considerably lower than Israel’s total physical devastation. In 2003, this precise judgment was contained in the Project Daniel final report, “Israel’s Strategic Future” (www.acpr.org.il/ENGLISH-NATIV/03-ISSUE/daniel-3.htm).

Facing imminent attacks, Israel, even if it had delayed launching defensive first strikes, could still decide to preempt enemy aggression with pertinent conventional forces. The targeted state’s response would then largely determine Israel’s subsequent moves. If this response were in any way nuclear, Israel would assuredly undertake prompt nuclear counter-retaliation. And if this enemy retaliation were to involve “only” chemical and/or biological weapons, Israel might still plan to undertake a quantum escalatory initiative.

This sort of initiative is known in military parlance as “escalation dominance.” It could be necessary, even indispensable, to Israel’s preservation of intra-war deterrence. Here we need to bear in mind that deterrence would not necessarily cease functioning upon the commencement of hostilities. It could, in fact, continue to play a very different, but still more or less productive role, during any ensuing conflict.

If an enemy state’s response to an Israeli preemption were limited to hard-target, conventional strikes, it is improbable that Israel would ever resort to nuclear counter-retaliation. But if the enemy state’s conventional retaliation were an all-out strike directed toward Israel’s civilian populations, as well as to Israeli military targets, an Israeli nuclear counter-retaliation could not be ruled out.

Such a counter-retaliation could be excluded only if the enemy state’s conventional retaliations were entirely proportionate to Israel’s preemption; confined entirely to Israeli military targets; circumscribed by the legal limits of “military necessity”; and accompanied by explicit and verifiable assurances of no further escalation.

It is almost inconceivable that Israel would ever decide to preempt any enemy state aggression with a defensive nuclear strike. While particular circumstances could arise where such a defensive strike would be completely rational, and also be entirely lawful according to the authoritative 1996 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice (which refused to prohibit certain residual resorts to nuclear weapons that are presumed essential to national survival), it is still implausible that Israel would ever permit itself to reach such distinctly all-or-nothing circumstances.

Also worth mentioning is that Israel remains pledged to a military doctrine of “purity of arms” and to incomparably strict compliance with humanitarian international law, especially the imperative minimization of collateral, or non-combatant, harm.

A Helping Hand

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

Soldiers from the Home Front Command Search and Rescue Unit practice saving civilians trapped under a collapsed building in Zikim, the Home Front Command’s training base.

The Israeli Home Front Command (Hebrew: Pikud Ha’Oref) is an IDF regional command, created in February 1992 following the Gulf War, in which civilian population centers faced significant enemy threat.

It is currently headed by General Eyal Eisenberg.

General Salami Warns Enemies’ Interests “Within Range” of Iran’s Missiles

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Mehr quotes the deputy commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) who said that Iran’s enemies’ strategic interests in the region are within the range of Iranian missiles.

“In our strategic planning, we have defined a radius named the radius of deterrence, which includes all strategic interests of the enemy in the region, so that we can manage the battle at any level in case of the outbreak of war,” Brigadier General Hossein Salami said during a televised interview broadcast live on Iranian television on Saturday.

Salami said that the IRGC is capable of destroying the enemy’s moving military targets using its domestically produced ballistic missiles.

According to former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Iran’s newest missile has a range of at least 1,200 miles, which would include Israel, as well as and Iraq and the 134,000 U.S. troops stationed there. The radius also includes U.S. allies such as Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Turkey, all of them Sunni Arab-dominated countries that are rivals of Shiite Iran.

In May, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned of a new regional “arms race.”

“I say with certainty that we are able to hit all moving targets using ballistic missiles which follow a curved path, travel several times faster than sound after entering the atmosphere, and can hardly be tracked and destroyed,” Salami said.

In addition, he said that the Naval Force of the IRGC has been equipped with cruise missiles which are radar-evading and enjoy advanced capabilities in terms of range, precision, and maneuverability.

Big Men, Little Man

Tuesday, June 19th, 2012

The Combat Engineering Corps is greeted by a jubilant little fellow after completing their treacherous trek for their gray berets.

The Combat Engineering Corps symbol features a sword on a defensive tower with a blast halo on the background.

The Combat Engineering Corps official motto is “Rishonim Tamid” (“Always First”). Its unofficial motto is “We’ll do the hard stuff today, the impossible tomorrow.”

The corps’ roles include mobility assurance, road breaching, defense and fortifications, counter-mobility of enemy forces, construction and destruction under fire, sabotage, explosives, bomb disposal, purifying nuclear, biological and chemical threats, and special engineering missions, which include identifying and demolishing smuggling tunnels.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/photos/big-men-little-man/2012/06/19/

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