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September 26, 2016 / 23 Elul, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘International Law’

After 45 years, Judea and Samaria are not ‘occupied’

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

http://fresnozionism.org/2012/07/after-45-years-judea-and-samaria-are-not-occupied/

News item:

Retired Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, who heads a committee tasked with examining the legality of Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria, declared on Tuesday that Israelis have a legal right to settle the region.

“According to international law, Israelis have a legal right to settle all of Judea and Samaria, at the very least the lands that Israel controls under agreements with the Palestinian Authority,” Levy stated. “Therefore, the establishment of Jewish settlements [in Judea and Samaria] is, in itself, not illegal.”

The committee was established by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in efforts to determine and cement the legal status of the outposts in Judea and Samaria, with an emphasis on communities that were not built on privately owned Palestinian land but their status was still in doubt due to legal bureaucracy.

The committee issued its report on Tuesday, which was subsequently handed over to Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein. In the report, Levy wrote that “upon completing the committee’s tasks, and considering the testimonies heard, the basic conclusion is that from an international law perspective, the laws of ‘occupation’ do not apply to the unique historic and legal circumstances surrounding Israel’s decades-long presence in Judea and Samaria.”

“Likewise,” the report said, “the Fourth Geneva Convention [relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War] on the transfer of populations does not apply, and wasn’t intended to apply to communities such as those established by Israel in Judea and Samaria.”

None of this is actually ‘news’. Legal scholars like Eugene Rostow and others have argued for years that the proper status of Judea and Samaria is as disputed territory, to which Israel has a prima facie claim.

Unfortunately, the official Israeli position has been that it is a ‘belligerent occupation.’ Such an occupation is defined as temporary, arising from a war between nations, one of which occupies the territory of another. It must be ended by a peace treaty between the parties, since acquisition of land by conquest is forbidden by the UN charter.

This position never made a lick of sense. In addition to ignoring the rights accruing to the Jewish people under the Mandate, it could not explain how Israel could be ‘occupying’ something whose last owner was the Ottoman Empire.

Not only did it not make sense, it provided a door through which Israel’s enemies have entered. For one thing, it means that Israel can’t annex any of it without a peace treaty. But with whom could such a treaty be concluded — the Ottomans, who don’t exist; the Jordanians, who illegally invaded it in 1948; or the PLO, which never ruled the area?

If the Israeli conquest of Judea and Samaria in 1967 and its expulsion of the Jordanian Army did represent an ‘occupation’, then that implies that the Jordanian presence was legitimate, and that the heirs of the Jordanians, the ‘Palestinians’ — represented by the PLO, a terrorist gang that should have zero legitimacy — now have some kind of ‘right’ to the area.

This is too incoherent to be even half-convincing. But what happened is that the PLO conflated the idea of rights granted by international law, which it did not have, with political claims — Palestinians are ‘indigenous’, theirs is a struggle for ‘national liberation’ against an ‘oppressor’, it’s ‘Arab land’, etc.

Those who would prefer that there be no Jewish state found these ideas congenial, and soon accepted the idea of a Palestinian ‘right’ to Judea and Samaria. They began to say “settlements are illegal under international law,” and that they are on “Palestinian land,” despite the fact that this is nonsense.

Unfortunately, Israeli governments did not take the correct line from the beginning. By not vehemently opposing Arab claims, insisting that the territory was disputed rather than occupied, and asserting Israel’s own rights under the Mandate, they allowed the PLO — with the willing connivance of anti-Zionist forces throughout the world — to make its point of view part of the conventional wisdom.

So we have statements like this one, from US State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell:

…the U.S. position on settlements is clear. Obviously, we’ve seen the reports that an Israeli Government appointed panel has recommended legalizing dozens of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but we do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity and we oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts.

It may be too late to change worldwide perceptions, but I hope Netanyahu’s government will adopt the report and realign its policy — not just about settlements, but its overall position regarding the ‘peace process’ and the Palestinians in keeping with the findings of the committee.

Vic Rosenthal

Obama, Netanyahu And Palestine: A Partnership In Futility And Dishonor

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

All people, Jews or gentiles, who dare not defend themselves when they know they are in the right, who submit to punishment not because of what they have done but because of who they are, are already dead by their own decision; and whether or not they survive physically depends on chance. If circumstances are not favorable, they end up in gas chambers.

Bruno Bettelheim, “Freud’s Vienna and Other Essays”

Bettelheim, like the Greek poet Homer, understands that the force that does not kill, that does not kill just yet, can turn a human being into stone, into a thing, even while it is still alive. Merely hanging ominously over the head of the vulnerable creature it can choose to kill at any moment, poised lasciviously to destroy breath in what it has somehow “graciously” allowed, if only for a few more moments, to breathe; this force indelicately mocks the fragile life it intends to consume.

As for the pitiable human being who stands helplessly before this force, he or she has effectively already become a corpse.

Israel, in some respects, is this “pitiable human being” in macrocosm, now at the threshold of becoming a thing. Still called upon by U.S. President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to negotiate with unrepentant terrorists, Prime Minister Netanyahu has agreed to accept certain forms of Palestinian statehood, at least in principle. Strongly hoping not to be identified as an “obstruction to peace,” Mr. Netanyahu has somehow managed to discover reassurance in his openly-stated expectations for Palestinian demilitarization.

There is no chance, of course, that any Palestinian state would ever consent to its own demilitarization. Any such refusal to demilitarize would be entirely consistent with authoritative international law. This is the case even if the Palestinian negotiators, in their pre-independence form, had formally agreed to such a limiting condition.

Several years ago, in a burst of presumed strategic ingenuity, Israel decided to arm Hamas against Fatah. Islamic fundamentalists, they reasoned in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, must surely be “better” than Yassir Arafat and his likely successors. Now, in Jerusalem, Prime Minister Netanyahu operates on the very opposite understanding. In both cases, Israel’s leaders, pressured by an American president, have missed an overriding point: Both Hamasand Fatah, even as they intermittently fail to achieve any true reconciliation with each other, still remain fully committed to Israel’s annihilation.

Neither terror organization should ever be expected to serve Israel’s security interests.

Neither Hamas nor Fatah could ever become a willing subcontractor for Jewish national survival.

Oddly enough, until very recently the United States, similarly confused, in a program begun under President George W. Bush, and continued under President Obama, spent several hundred million dollars giving advanced military training to Fatahforces in Jordan.

Now, Hamas terrorists in Gaza, aided by Iran, are able to fire substantially upgraded military-issue rockets into southern Israel. When Israel retaliates, as it must, not only Hamas, but also Fatah, cheerfully and systematically exploit the indispensable reprisal for specifically propagandistic benefit. Ironically, the more Arabs who die as a consequence of the Israeli counter-terrorism operation, the (presumed) better for both Hamas, and for Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah/Palestinian Authority. After all, if only there were a Palestinian state, Israel could be prevented, in the future, from inflicting such further harms upon innocent Gaza populations.

From the standpoint of international law, the Abbas plan is a textbook case of perfidy. The Arab side is committing multiple violations of the law of war, or the law of armed conflict, for the express purpose of eliciting deliberate harm to its own civilians. Moreover, in addition to deliberately placing Gaza civilians in harm’s way, Hamas steadfastly refuses to acknowledge that the obligatory IDF self-defense actions are always scrupulously discriminate, conforming not only to the law of war, but also to its own even-stricter national code concerning “Purity of Arms.”

Arguably, the Arab world ought to at least be grateful to Netanyahu for neglecting to emphasize the core contrast between its own purposefully provocative criminal excursions into terror, and Israel’s reciprocal and carefully-measured efforts at counter-terror. Similarly, both Hamas and Fatah should be very pleased that Mr. Netanyahu has not flatly ruled out a Palestinian state under all circumstances. Significantly, such a broad-based exclusion could be altogether correct, morally and jurisprudentially. It would also certainly be in Israel’s overall survival interests.

International law is not a suicide pact. Nonetheless, the Arab world does not willingly play the gentleman. In this respect, at least, it is an honest world.

Even today, even while Netanyahu still agrees to follow the road map, the Palestinian Authority map of Palestine remains undisguised. On this unhidden bit of cartography, Palestine still includes all of Israel. There are no two-states on the maps of “moderate” leader Mahmoud Abbas, the ungrateful beneficiary of huge amounts of money “donated” by unsuspecting American taxpayers. There is only one.

However unintentionally, and under all of its prime ministers since Begin, Israel has more-or-less come to accept a deformed image of itself, an image spawned not in Jerusalem or Hebron, but in Washington, Ramallah and Gaza. Degraded and debased, this is the view not of a strong and righteous people, determined to stand upright in its own land, forever, but of an already-deceased victim, resigned, a conspicuously-lacquered corpse-in-waiting. To be sure, large majorities of Israelis have always fought courageously against precisely such an intolerable view, against the endlessly hapless visions of disengagements, realignments, and peace processes,” but this demeaning image is still very much alive. In certain quarters in Israel, it is plainly fashionable; in these circles, it is even de rigeur.

The moral confusion of so many Jewish intellectuals emboldens Israel’s enemies. Writing several years ago about Israel’s Oslo Agreements, precursor of the road map, Israeli novelist Aharon Megged had observed: “We have witnessed a phenomenon which probably has no parallel in history; an emotional and moral identification by the majority of Israel’s intelligentsia with people openly committed to our annihilation.” Bewilderingly, this unique identification has taken poisonous root in a succession of Israeli governments, and shows no real signs of abating.

For nation-states, as for individual human beings, there can be no hope for survival in the absence of true and unapologetic conviction. Bruno Bettelheim would have understood.

 

LOUIS RENÉ BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is Professor of Political Science and International Law at Purdue. He is the author of many books and articles dealing with Israeli security issues. In Israel, he was Chair of Project Daniel. Professor Beres is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

Louis Rene Beres

Economic Volatility, Hyper Consumption And The ‘Wealth Of Nations’

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Adam Smith published his Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations in 1776. A revolutionary book, Wealth did not aim to support the interests of any one particular class, but rather the overall well being of an entire nation. He sought, as every American high school student learns, “an invisible hand,” whereby “the private interests and passions of men” will lead to “that which is most agreeable to the interest of a whole society.”

Still, this system of “perfect liberty,” as he called it, could never be based upon encouragements of needless consumption. Instead, argued Smith, the laws of the market, driven by competition and a consequent “self-regulation,” actually demanded explicit disdain for any gratuitous or vanity-driven consumption.

What does this all mean for better understanding of the current economic dislocations and volatility? Above all, it suggests that modern commentators and pundits often speak in blithe disregard for Smith’s true beliefs, ignoring that his primary concern for consumption was always tempered and bounded by a genuine hatred for “conspicuous consumption” (a phrase to be used more pointedly by Thorsten Veblen in a later century).

For Adam Smith, it was only proper that the market regulate both the price and quantity of goods according to the final arbiter of public demand, yet, he continued, this market ought never to be manipulated by any avaricious interferers. In fact, Smith plainly excoriated all those who would artificially create or encourage any such contrived demand as mischievously vain meddlers of “mean rapacity.”

Today, of course, where engineered demand and hyper consumption are permanent and allegedly purposeful features of the market, especially here in the United States, we have lost all sight of Smith’s “natural liberty.” As a result, we try, foolishly and interminably, to build our economic recovery and vitality upon sand. Below the surface, we still fail to recognize, lurks a core problem that is not at all economic, fiscal or financial. Rather, as Adam Smith would have understood, it is a starkly psychological and deeply human dilemma.

Wall Street’s persisting fragility is largely a mirror image of Main Street’s insatiable drive toward hyper consumption. This manipulated drive, so utterly execrable to Adam Smith, has already become so overwhelming that many learned economists warn us sternly against saving too much.
If only we could all buy just a little more, they argue, life in America would be better. Retail sales are the authentic barometer of the “good life.”

Collectively, our national economic effort is always oriented, breathlessly, toward buying more. Many of our country’s troubling and troubled economic policies are a more-or-less direct consequence of this sorely misdirected effort. Until we can get an effective reversal of the frenetic public need for more and more things, any recovery will remain transient and partial.

Not from the start has contrived demand been a basic driving force of our economy. Obviously, before television and before our newer surrenders to an avalanche of high-tech gadgets, such demand would not have had any such compelling power. Nonetheless, for the foreseeable future, it will take herculean efforts to detach healthy patterns of consumption from a distressingly ceaseless barrage of advertisement.

At the recently played Super Bowl, millions of viewers watched the proceedings not for the gridiron activity, but for the commercials. In a society that has now come to loathe any genuine hint of intellect or serious thought, even in universities, television commercials are hailed unashamedly as a discrete and clever genre.

What kind of an economy must rely on engineered consumption for both its buoyancy and its survival? Writing during the middle of the nineteenth century, the American Transcendentalist philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, spoke presciently of “self-reliance.” Foolish “reliance upon property,” Emerson had understood, is the unwanted result of “a want of self‑reliance.”

Today, still living apprehensively amid urgings of imitation and a delirious collectivism (“rugged individualism” is a plainly silly myth still dutifully recorded in primary school textbooks), the always-fearful American wants more or less desperately to project a “successful” image. This projection, in turn, remains founded upon material acquisition, upon a cornucopia that is recognizably laden with “all the right things.”

The relentless conformist call of American mass society insidiously undermines our core economy. This deafening cry, one that would have scandalized Adam Smith, is proclaimed throughout the land as gospel truth. Everywhere, it reigns triumphal.

To create a robust economy and a stable stock market, we Americans will first have to reorient our society from its corrupted ambience of mass taste. Surely, there is still great beauty in the world, but it is best for us not to search for it exclusively on television, at the movies or on Facebook.
In that large part of America that knows very little of Wall Street, there is often great fragility, restless anxiety and palpable unhappiness. Taught again and again that respect and success will lie comfortingly in high salaries, and in corollary patterns of high consumption, the dutiful American mass now celebrates fitting in. At the same time, it generally abhors real literature, serious learning and any tilt toward “self reliance.”

Ritualistically, in yet another stupefying pretense of democracy, we Americans will turn again and again to elections. Stubbornly patriotic, these transient diversions will certainly offer us a more or less pleasing amalgam of searing anger, hackneyed gossip and reassuring clichés. But as a convenient activity that serves to obscure an otherwise-evident plutocracy, these cheerfully prescribed excursions into politics will have little meaningful or enduring effect upon the sustainability of our economic markets.

As with hyper-consumption and engineered demand, no politics can ever rescue our economy. Adam Smith would have agreed.

 

LOUIS RENÉ BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), and is Professor of International Law at Purdue University. The author of ten major books and several hundred scholarly articles on world affairs, his columns appear in many major American and European newspapers and magazines. Professor Beres was born in Zürich, Switzerland, on August 31, 1945.

Louis Rene Beres

Assassinating Terrorist Leaders: The Killing of Osama Bin-Laden As a Matter of International Law

Wednesday, May 18th, 2011
             Osama bin Laden was assassinated by U.S. Special Forces on May 1, 2011. Although media emphasis thus far has been focused almost entirely on the pertinent operational and political issues surrounding this “high value” killing, there are also important jurisprudential aspects to the case that require similar attention. Whether or not killing Osama was a genuinely purposeful assassination from a strategic perspective, a question that will be debated for years to come, we should now also inquire:  Was it legal?
             Assassination is ordinarily a crime under international law. Still, in certain residual circumstances, the targeted killing of principal terrorist leaders can be defended as a fully permissible example of law enforcement. In the best of all possible worlds, there would never be any need for such decentralized or vigilante expressions of international justice, but we don’t yet live in such a world. Rather, in our present and still anarchic global legal order, as President Obama correctly understood, the only real alternative to precise self-defense actions against terrorists is apt to be a worsening global instability, and also escalating terrorist violence against the innocent.
            Almost by definition, the idea of assassination as remediation seems an oxymoron. At a minimum, this idea seemingly precludes all normal due processes of law. Yet, since the current state system’s inception in the seventeenth century, following the Thirty Years’ War and the resultant Peace of Westphalia (1648), international relations have not been governed by the same civil protections as individual states. In this world legal system, which lacks effective supra-national authority, Al Qaeda leader bin Laden was indisputably responsible for the mass killings of many noncombatant men, women and children. Had he not been assassinated by the United States, his egregious crimes would almost certainly have gone entirely unpunished.
             The indiscriminacy of Al Qaeda operations under bin Laden was never the result of inadvertence. It was, instead, the intentional outcome of profoundly murderous principles that lay deeply embedded in the leader’s view of Jihad. For bin Laden, there could never be any meaningful distinction between civilians and non-civilians, innocents and non-innocents. For bin Laden, all that mattered was the distinction between Muslims and “unbelievers.”
            As for the lives of unbelievers, it was all very simple.  These lives had no value. They had no sanctity. 
            Every government has the right and obligationto protect its own citizens. In certain circumstances, this may even extend to assassination. The point has long been understood in Washington, where every president in recent memory has given nodding or more direct approval to high value assassination operations. Of course, lower-value or more tactical assassination efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan have become a very regular feature of U.S. special operations.
            There are some points of legal comparison with the recent NATO strike that killed Moammar Gadhafi’s second-youngest son and his three grandchildren. While this was a thinly disguised assassination attempt that went awry, the target, although certainly a supporter of his own brand of terrorists, had effectively been immunized from any deliberate NATO harms by the U.N. Security Council’s limited definition of humanitarian intervention.
            It is generally true that assassination is a crime under international law. Yet, in our decentralized system of world law, self-help by individual states is often necessary, and the only alternative to suffering terrorist crimes. In the absence of particular assassinations, terrorists could continue to plan havoc against defenseless civilians in America and elsewhere, and could do so with impunity. To be sure, they would be generally immune to the more orthodox legal expectations of extradition and prosecution. This is not to suggest that assassination will always work, but only that disallowing such killing out of hand could never be gainful.
            Assassinating bin Laden was consistent with the ancient legal principle of Nullum crimen sine poena, “No crime without a punishment.” Earlier, this core principle had been cited as a rationale for both the Tokyo and Nuremberg war crime tribunals, and was subsequently incorporated into binding customary international law. As to the foreign venue of the assassination, President Obama can find adequate legal support in certain relevant bilateral agreements with Pakistan, and also in pertinent provisions of the 1974 General Assembly Definition of Aggression. Although extra-territorial jurisdiction in any such matters would normally be unlawful, there are critical exceptions when a particular country (here, Pakistan) more or less allows its territory to be used as a base of operation for future terrorist crimes.
            By the codified and customary standards of contemporary international law, terrorists are Hostes humani generis or “Common enemies of humankind.”  In the fashion of pirates, who were to be hanged by the first persons into whose hands they fell, terrorists are international outlaws who fall within the scope of universal jurisdiction.  That bin Laden’s terror-crimes were plainly directed at the United States in particular removes any doubts about the geo-strategic reasonableness of America’s primary jurisdiction.
             Limited support for assassination can be found in the classical writings of Aristotle, Plutarch and Cicero, and even in American history.  Should the community of nations ever reject this right altogether, it would have to recognize, as a corollary, that such rejection could be at the expense of innocent human life. The existing law of nations must, at least on occasion, continue to rely on even the most objectionable forms of self-defense.
            International law is not a suicide pact. Assassination, always subject to the applicable legal rules of discrimination, proportionality and military necessity (it is vital that assassinations always seek to avoid collateral casualties) may sometimes be the least injurious form of defense and punishment.  Wherever additional terrorist crimes are still being planned, as was certainly the case with Osama bin Laden, the permissibility of assassination may be far greater.  
            In a better world, assassination could have no defensible place as counterterrorism. But we do not yet live in the best of all possible worlds, and the obviously negative aspects of assassination should never be evaluated apart from the foreseeable costs of all other options.  Such aspects should always be compared to what would be expected of these alternative choices.
            Assassination, even of a terrorist mastermind like Osama bin Laden, will almost always elicit some indignation, ironically, even by those who would likely find full-scale warfare appropriate.  Yet, the civilizational promise of universal reasonableness is unrealized, and imperiled states, including our own, must inevitably confront stark choices between employing assassination in limited circumstances, or renouncing such tactics at the expense of justice and security.  In facing such choices, these countries, including the United States, will always discover that viable alternatives to the assassination option also include large-scale violence, and that these alternatives may ultimately exact a substantially larger long-term toll in human life and suffering.

 

LOUIS RENÉ BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), and is the author of many books and scholarly articles dealing with international law and terrorism.  His more than forty-years’ work on counterterrorism is well-known to America’s military and intelligence communities.  Professor Beres is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

Louis Rene Beres

Now With Saudi Arabia On Its Side: Israel And Anticipatory Self-Defense Against Iran

Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

International law is not a suicide pact. This particular sentence should be very familiar to this column’s readers. Every state facing plainly existential harms always has the right to defend itself before being attacked. In the increasingly urgent matter of Israel and Iran, a subject on which I have been commenting for some time, any further delay in undertaking permissible acts of preemption could irrevocably doom the Jewish state.

Interestingly enough, as we now know from WikiLeaks, Israel could have even Saudi Arabia on its side. Although King Abdullah’s plaintive plea to the U.S. to “cut off the head of the snake” was mistakenly ignored, Jerusalem could ultimately turn out to be a far better protective ally for the Saudi King than Washington.

The reverse, however, is not true. Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states that share a common fear of Iran would never prove helpful to Israel. Instead, they will continue to accumulate large amounts of America’s most advanced weapon systems without even a tiny probability of ever being capable of using them against Iran. For Riyadh and its Gulf neighbors, such weapons are always only for decoration. When it comes to any actual military action, they will inevitably and desperately turn for help to the United States.

Israel, as always, must stand alone. In the aftermath of any Iranian nuclear attack, which might still be several years away, Washington’s only tangible aid would be to help bury the dead. This limited assistance would not be the result of any indifference or animosity, but rather of an entirely predictable impotence. Simply put, when a nuclear aggression against Israel had already become a fait accompli, there would be nothing else for America to do.

To merely survive, Israel’s immediate obligation must be to enhance its deterrence and defense postures, to consider a prompt end to “deliberate nuclear ambiguity” (that is, to take its bomb “out of the basement”), and to further refine still-pertinent preemption options. Israel should never expect stable coexistence with a nuclear Iran ruled by doctrinaire Islamic clerics.

Israel’s core plan for active defense remains the Arrow. To protect against any future nuclear attack from Iran, this advanced system of ballistic missile defense (BMD) must be complemented by recognizably viable options for defensive non-nuclear first strikes against selected Iranian military and industrial targets. It should never be assumed by Israel that a safe and durable “balance of terror” could be created with a staunchly Jihadist Tehran.

Deterrence must always be based upon an assumption of enemy rationality. This assumption might not be warranted, however, in the case of Iran. Here, also, any purported analogy between Iran and our own U.S. deterrence relationship with the former Soviet Union would be misguided.

If Iran’s current leadership could somehow meet the core test of rationality, always valuing national survival more highly than any other preference, there would still exist grave risks to Israel. These hazards would be associated with Tehran’s problematic command and control of any nuclear forces. Even a completely rational Iranian leadership could base its critical nuclear decisions upon erroneous information, on a variety of computer errors, or on precipitous pre-delegations of launch authority.

The related problem of vulnerability to violent regime overthrow, or coup d’état in Tehran, must also be considered in Jerusalem. In addition to the almost-comedic irony of mutual strategic interest between Israel and Saudi Arabia on Iran, another sharply ironic observation can be made: There can be absolutely no assurances that any successor regime in Iran would necessarily pose a diminished security threat to Israel.

If Israel’s Arrow were presumed to be one hundred percent effective, even an irrational Iranian adversary armed with nuclear or biological weapons could be kept away without defensive first strikes and also without any threats of retaliation. The problem is that no BMD system can ever be “leak proof.”

Terrorist proxies in ships or trucks, not missiles, could deliver Iranian nuclear attacks upon Israel. In such low-tech but distinctly high consequence assaults, there would be no benefit to Israel of deploying any anti-missile defenses.

Every state has an indisputable right under international law to act preemptively when facing a potentially mortal aggression. The 1996 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice even extends such lawful authority to the preemptive use of nuclear weapons in certain last-resort circumstances. For now, at least, Israel could and should undertake any planned acts of anticipatory self-defense without nuclear weapons. This may now also mean the prudentially targeted elimination of selected enemy scientists, and a critical resort to vital cyber-defenses.

International law is not a suicide pact.

Although President Medvedev claims otherwise, Russia is still selling Iran its S-300 advanced strategic-range air defense system. Once fully deployed, this weapon, which has an “engagement envelope” of at least 100 miles, could greatly complicate the success of any essential Israeli hard-target (military or industrial) preemption.

If Iran should be permitted to become fully nuclear – an entirely likely scenario, as the so-called sanctions represent little more than a fly on the elephant’s back – Israel would need to substantially enhance the credibility of its presumed nuclear deterrent. Israel’s robust second-strike strategic force – hardened; multiplied; and dispersed – would need to be configured to inflict a decisive retaliatory blow against selected enemy cities. In technical military terms, this means, for Israel, an openly counter value-targeted nuclear force.

The dangers of a nuclear Iran would directly impact the United States. Over time, the U.S. could become as vulnerable as Israel to certain nuclear-armed terrorist surrogates. Any American plan for a “rogue state” anti-ballistic missile shield, for us, and for our NATO allies, would have exactly the same limitations as Israel’s already-deployed Arrow.

International politics can make strange bedfellows. Now, with Riyadh “on its side,” Israel may finally have the optimal political setting for a last chance at anticipatory self-defense.

International law is not a suicide pact.

LOUIS RENÉ BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is Professor of International Law at Purdue University. He was Chair of Project Daniel (Israel, 2003), and is the author of many major books, articles and monographs on nuclear strategy and nuclear war. Dr. Beres is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

Louis Rene Beres

Terrorist Cop: The NYPD Jewish Cop Who Traveled the World to Stop Terrorists

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

Terrorist Cop: The NYPD Jewish Cop Who Traveled the World to Stop Terrorists

by Mordecai Dzikansky and Robert Slater

Published by Barricade Books, Fort Lee, NJ

Copyright 2010/ISBN 978-1-56980-445-2 $24.95 Hardback

I like this book. Very much. Terrorist Cop will be of interest to all Americans and Israelis who remain deeply concerned (as they should) about our continuing vulnerability to Jihadist terror attacks. It will be of even greater interest, moreover, to readers of The Jewish Press. After all, the author, now retired New York City homicide Detective First Grade Mordecai Dzikansky, spent his distinguished 25-year career as an NYPD “Jewish cop.”

In the beginning, Mordecai patrolled Brooklyn streets conspicuously wearing a yarmulke. Later, he went undercover to catch Torah thieves and also to investigate such high-profile cases as the murder of Rabbi Meir Kahane and the slaying of Ari Halberstam. Most significantly, perhaps, after 9/11, NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly sent Detective Dzikansky to Israel – to observe suicide bombing sites, and to learn how to best protect his own already-victimized American city from what was certain to become a genuinely worldwide threat.

It is an impressive story, a unique and informed narrative by a dedicated Jewish police detective on his ultimately multi-national journey to gather vital intelligence and to relay key security information back to New York. Indeed, it is altogether likely not an exaggeration to suggest that Detective Dzikansky’s remarkable police skills and obvious heroism have helped to keep us all a little (or a lot) safer.

For four years of monitoring and reporting on suicide bombings in Israel, and also serving on assignment in Egypt, Turkey, Spain and Russia, the author paid a notably heavy personal price. “The horror, the horror,” mumbles the Marlon Brando character in the film “Apocalypse Now.” It is a telling observation that also came to trouble Detective Dzikansky in the real world. In his own words, by 2006, “grisly images grew into sharper focus,” and “my career, my obsessions, my uncertainties had become my entire life.” Beginning to use alcohol “to numb myself,” Dzikansky began to suffer a recognizable form of Post-Trauma Stress Disorder (PTSD), hardly a surprise for someone who had already made so many palpable sacrifices, and who had already been compelled to witness so much evident horror.

In a few years, happily, “Time had proved a great healer,” and the author was able to retire from the NYPD and to begin the next chapter of his life. By that time, and to all of our collective benefit, he had accumulated valuable tactical insights and true wisdom regarding the global terror threat. As a police officer, Dzikansky had developed a particular loathing for terror criminality, largely because of its utter indiscriminacy. From his many crime scene experiences, he was able to conclude that good intelligence is necessary to terrorist prevention, but that expanding public awareness is also vital to keeping down any casualties. In this connection, one of the most helpful and important parts of this very fine book is Dzikansky’s Chapter 11, “Lessons Learned.”

Often, in relating these “lessons,” the author displays a very nuanced and subtle kind of intelligence. For example, as a New York cop, he knows the signal importance, in counter-terrorist operations, of maintaining “a constantly high state of alert for suspicious people and objects.” At the same time, he also knows, as an ordinary New York native, that his fellow New Yorkers are generally ready to accept virtually anything out of the ordinary as “normal.” Such acceptance is, in fact, the iconic core of what it means to be a “New Yorker.”

It is a meaningful dilemma that is identified here by Detective Dzikansky, one easily understood by readers of The Jewish Press, “because almost anything goes in New York, and nothing seems out of the ordinary.” Still, as the author maintains correctly, the critical message of citizen alertness, from his having observed a series of twenty-one suicide bombings in Israel, as well as from his visits to four target venues outside of Israel, “had to be taught.”

Detective Dzikansky, retired from the NYPD, now lives in Israel. Knowing himself to be “a true New Yorker to the core,” he remains in Israel because it is “the perfect place for my children.” Together with Meryl, his wife, he believes their three children consider the Jewish state “home,” yet, for himself, says Mordecai, “I will always consider the U.S.A. as my home.” This is a poignant and complex differentiation, one that is by no means limited to the special feelings of a New York Jewish cop who had spent troubling times in Israel, but rather one that is easily understood by many other regular Jewish New Yorkers.

As the author of one of the earliest scholarly books on nuclear terrorism (published back in the late 1970s), I can acknowledge that Detective Dzikansky’s Terrorist Cop is filled with serious, substantial and meaningful operational content. It is not “merely” the personal memoir of a heart-wrenching but rewarding journey; it is also a distinctly thoughtful and lucid examination of a very difficult, timely, and persistently-urgent topic. Today, the author has succeeded in “chasing away the demons,” and he is able to leave us with both a mesmerizing personal account, and with a simple yet sophisticated inventory of plainly indispensable remedies.

I started this review by indicating that “I like this book. Very much.” You will too. It fully deserves a wide and attentive audience.

Louis René Beres (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971), is Professor of Political Science and International Law at Purdue University. He is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press, and is the author of many major books and articles dealing with terrorism and counter-terrorism. Professor Beres was born in Zürich, Switzerland, on August 31, 1945. He was Chair of Project Daniel in Israel.

Louis Rene Beres

Changes Ahead? American Nuclear Policy And Israeli Strategic Doctrine (Part I)

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

From the beginning, Israel has successfully managed to craft its overriding strategic doctrine apart from any specific U.S. expectations. To be sure, keeping its “bomb in the basement” has been at least partially a response to expressed American wishes. After all, any explicit end to nuclear ambiguity could have proven unacceptable to Washington. Still, all other core doctrinal considerations of nuclear force structure, basing, targeting and nuclear retaliatory thresholds have likely been fashioned, quite correctly, to suit only Israel.

It is conceivable, of course, that Israel’s decision thus far to resist any preemptive action against Iranian nuclear infrastructure targets does reflect, at least in part, a dutiful friendly-state compliance with President Barack Obama’s “rules.” On this point, however, it is too early to know for sure. There are also many significant operational factors to take into account. The Israel Air Force, despite its indisputably unique capabilities and high quality, may simply be too small for so demanding a task.

President Obama does have his own broad vision of nuclear weapons and strategic doctrine; it expresses an oft-declared preference for “a world free of nuclear weapons.” Although this presidential hope is plainly unattainable andonly selectively desirable, Israel cannot ignore it. Rather, political leaders and senior planners in Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv will now need to shape and re-shape certain elements of Israel’s own strategic doctrine with precisely this inherently vague American vision in mind. This is the case even though the reduced American nuclear stockpile will inevitably stay substantially robust, and in spite of the understanding that Israel would never entirely abandon its own nuclear weapons.

For Israel, the only relevant strategic policy danger lies in the fact that national nuclear capacity must always exist on a continuum; it is never merely a dichotomous (nuclear versus non-nuclear) distinction. If Washington were to demand that Israel begin to trim back its nuclear forces and postures in order to be in synch with any new American partial denuclearization, and/or with codified NPT expectations, Jerusalem/Tel-Aviv could still find itself under some very compelling pressures to comply. Ironically, this danger would flow from the Obama nuclear vision solely because that particular vision had spurred a far less than complete U.S. withdrawal from military nuclear options.

Strategic doctrine is anet. In the abundantly complex and interpenetrating worlds of war and peace, only those who cast will catch. Without an appropriate and fully up-to-date doctrine that takes certain developing Washington visions into close account, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) could be less able to conform its essential order of battle to the changing and increasingly lethal requirements of the regional battlefield. At a minimum, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will need to consider that the New START agreement between the U.S. and Russia could effectively leave the much wider threat of nuclear proliferation and nuclear terror unrelieved.

What needs to be done in Israel?

First, Israeli leaders and military strategists should now look directly at their country’s principal existential threats, organize these primary threats hierarchically (in terms of both their probability and disutility), and carefully correlate the diligently enumerated perils with purposeful remedies. To the extent that the Obama vision, with its expressly-diminished reliance on nuclear deterrence, could ultimately put extreme pressure on Israel to denuclearize, such a correlation could spur Jerusalem/Tel Aviv to move much more urgently toward certain plausible forms of preemption/anticipatory self-defense, and/or to nuclear disclosure.

Second, Israeli leaders and strategists should begin to plan with the basic understanding that (a) Israel is a system; (b) existential threats confronting the Israeli system are interrelated (synergistic); and (c) effects of these interrelated threats upon the Israeli system must always be examined together.

How will these effects likely be impacted by President Obama’s determined search for “a world free of nuclear weapons?” How should Israel compensate for any resultant expansion of security vulnerabilities?

As its multiple enemies in the Middle East escalate their not so obviously disingenuous proposals for a nuclear weapon free zone in the region, how can Jerusalem/Tel Aviv best resist such deceptively appealing plans for “peace?” Somehow, Israel must make clear that the seeming fairness of a nuclear-free Middle East would unfairly imperil Israel. This clarity will be especially difficult to communicate so long as President Obama, still unable to recognize that a regional nuclear weapon free zone is merely a clever enemy expedient to weaken Israel, remains in plain sympathy with such a sorely mistaken idea.

Third, Israeli leaders and strategists should quickly understand that, conceptually, the entire world is now best understood as a system, and that the incremental disintegration of power and authority structures within this wider macro-system will impact, with enormous and at-least partially foreseeable consequences, the Israeli micro-system.

How will this particular impact be enlarged or reduced by President Obama’s now-codified Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) unwillingness to respond to chemical or biological attacks with American nuclear reprisals? In critical matters of national defense and deterrence, will this unwillingness force Israel to become even more “self-help” oriented than in the past? In a world of international anarchy, each state must seek, above all, to maintain and maximize its own power position. Israel is no exception.

LOUIS RENÉ BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971), Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press, is the author of ten books and several hundred scholarly articles dealing with international relations and international law. Born in Zürich, Switzerland, at the end of World War II, he lectures and publishes widely on nuclear matters in the United States, Europe and Israel. Professor of Political Science and International Law at Purdue, Dr. Beres was the Chair of Project Daniel (Israel).

Louis Rene Beres

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