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July 2, 2015 / 15 Tammuz, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘international relations’

Steps to Disempower Iran

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Canada has expelled Iranian diplomats and shut down its embassy in Iran, citing the regime as “the most significant threat to global peace and security in the world today.” Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird condemned Iran on many fronts: its military assistance to Syria, its nuclear program, threats to Israel’s existence, and incitement to Jewish genocide; and he also announced that Canada has now formally listed Iran as a state sponsor of terrorism under the country’s Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act. While the many infractions of the regime were pointed out, the decision also stems an internal security threat: that the Iranian embassy in Canada was being used to promote a fifth column in Canada.

The West would do well to take note as to how far the tentacles of the Iranian regime have spread into global and regional affairs as delegates from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s office impose strict expectations on their embassies to find the weaknesses in each country as well as to increase and empower their own supporters there politically, economically and culturally.

Despite the news of Canada’s decision and Baird’s justification for breaking diplomatic ties with Iran, much more action needs to be taken by Western nations. Baird, for example, referred to Iran’s blatant disregard for the Vienna Convention, which defines diplomatic relations between countries, forms the legal basis for diplomatic immunity and enables diplomats to perform functions without fear of being coerced or harassed by the host country.

Baird said he was worried about the safety of diplomats in Tehran following recent attacks on the British embassy in the country. A mob of Iranian students stormed the British embassy in Tehran last November. They tore down the Union Flags and threw documents from windows in a show of civil disobedience that followed London’s support of upgraded Western sanctions on Tehran over its nuclear program. The attack on the British embassy was not only illegal and brutal but it revealed something disturbing about Iran: that the regime is now willing — through violence and destruction — to take extreme risks on the international stage.

Baird has advised Canadian citizens in need of services in Iran to contact the Canadian Embassies in Ankara , Turkey and anywhere else that might provide it. He also issued a safety warning for Canadian travellers to Iran.

In the Syrian crisis to which Baird referred, Iran has shipped hundreds of tons of military equipment to Syria to ensure that the Assad regime survives the threat to its survival, and to aid Assad’s strategic offensive against rebel strongholds in Damascus and Aleppo. As Syria is Iran’s most important regional ally, Western intelligence officials have credited the Iranian regime’s elite Quds force and other high ranking members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard with creating the devastation there.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, a month ago also ordered renewed terror attacks on Western targets for supporting an overthrow of the Syrian regime, issuing a directive to Qassem Suleimani, commander of the elite Quds Force unit. An emergency meeting was called of Iran’s National Security Council in Tehran to discuss the implications for Iran in the event of the overthrow of Assad’s regime.

The survival of Syria’s Assad regime is regarded as critical to sustain the Iranian-backed Hezbollah militia, which controls southern Lebanon. A report commissioned by Khamenei concluded that Iran’s national interests were being threatened by U.N. sanctions over Iran’s nuclear program and the West’s support for the Syrian opposition.

Qassem Suleimani is apparently the mastermind behind the killing of more Americans than anyone, according to a Telegraph article in the U.K. that alleges this man to be the world’s most dangerous terrorist since Osama bin Laden. As head of the Quds Force, Suleimani not only works with Hezbollah in Lebanon, he has also plotted and executed mass murder in dozens of countries; and what Hezbollah has in mind for Israel is no secret, according to its leader who once said he hoped that the Jews would gather in Israel so he would not have to hunt them down globally. According to the Telegraph, however, the EU continues to categorize the Iranian-backed Hezbollah as a charitable organization, thereby enabling supporters to raise millions of dollars to inspire, recruit and train terrorists.

In July, Hezbollah was implicated in the bombing of a bus carrying Israeli tourists in Bulgaria . Yet despite the massive evidence of global terrorism by Hezbollah, one EU foreign minister has said a change in policy would be considered if and when “tangible evidence existed” that Hezbollah is engaging in acts of terrorism. Yet Iran and Hezbollah have slaughtered men, women and children in bombings “from Argentina to Saudi Arabia to Bulgaria;” and have targeted US servicemen in direct attacks, and through proxies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

‘Slaughter The Jews’: Israel, Anti-Semitism, And International Law (Third of Three Parts)

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

The Genocide Convention criminalizes not only various acts of genocide, but also (Article III) conspiracy to commit genocide and direct and public incitement to commit genocide. Articles II, III and IV of the Genocide Convention are fully applicable in all cases of direct and public incitement to commit genocide. For the Convention to be invoked, it is sufficient that any one of the state parties call for a meeting, through the United Nations, of all the state parties (Article VIII).

Though this has never been done, the United States, especially following the upcoming presidential election, should consider very seriously taking this particular step. Israel, too, should be an obvious co-participant in this call, but it is unlikely that any government in Jerusalem, historically aware of always-expanding global indifference to Jewish life, will seek formal redress under any multilateral conventions.

An alternative remedy/strategy could involve the issuance of specific criminal indictments for crimes against humanity, by Israel’s Justice Ministry, to the key Palestinian broadcasters and journalists now engaged in daily anti-Semitic harangues. In the words of Israeli attorney, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, back in February 2004: “Those who operate Palestinian television and radio stations and the printing presses engaged in hate speech should be arrested along with the other suspected killers.”

Any public trial before an Israeli tribunal could carry very grave geopolitical risks. For one, as no Arab or Iranian authority could ever be expected to extradite alleged wrongdoers to Israel for trial, it would inevitably be up to Israeli military and police authorities to acquire physical custody over defendants. This is the case though such an expected Arab/Iranian disregard for Israeli extradition requests would represent a manifestly serious violation of peremptory international criminal law.

Even if an Israeli trial could afford opportunity for a direct evidentiary connection between Palestinian media incitement and Palestinian terrorism, much of the world would be focused instead on the extraordinary means by which Israel took custody of the inciters. After all, when Israel captured major Nazi war criminal Adolph Eichmann in 1960, more states chose to condemn the abduction than to recall the prisoner’s role as murderer of one million Jewish children.

The Genocide Convention, the London Charter, and the December 2003 International Criminal Tribunal in Rwanda are not the only authoritative codifications that could now be invoked against relentless media and leadership calls for the mass killing of Jews. The 1965 International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination should also be brought productively into play. This treaty condemns “all propaganda and all organizations which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form,” obliging, in Article 4(a), state parties to declare as “an offense punishable by law all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial discrimination, as well as all acts of violence or incitement to such acts against any race or group of persons.” Article 4(b) affirms that state parties “Shall declare illegal and prohibit organizations, and also organized and all other propaganda activities, which promote and incite racial discrimination, and shall recognize participation in such organizations or activities as an offense punishable by law.”

Further authority for curtailing and punishing Palestinian calls for genocidal destruction of Jews can be found in Article 20(2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: “Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.”

The overriding point of the judgments at Nuremberg was to ensure that all future crimes against humanity be identified, prosecuted, and punished. Fully aware of these judgments, the International Criminal Tribunal in Rwanda ruled, in December 2003, that “mere words” can contain substantial criminal liability, and may warrant very severe punishments. Understood in terms of ongoing homicidal and genocidal Arab and Iranian calls for violence against Israel, it is essential that every state in the United Nations now be reminded of its binding obligation not to encourage another Holocaust. This is a fully legal obligation, and certainly must not be taken lightly.

Now, especially in anticipation of November’s presidential election, there may be new opportunities in Washington to finally make things right regarding Israel’s fundamental security needs. It is imperative that any such opportunities be identified, and taken quickly, while there is still time, and certainly before a Palestinian state is declared unilaterally.

‘Slaughter The Jews’: Israel, Anti-Semitism, And International Law (First of Three Parts)

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Over the past several months President Obama has generally focused his attention away from the Middle East “peace process.” It is fair to ask, therefore, whether his core preferences for a settlement – carving a Palestinian state out of the still-living body of Israel and “a world free of nuclear weapons” (a world in which Israel would no longer be able to deter certain existential attacks) – still remain a matter of reasonable concern.

From the start, the Obama plan for a road map to peace in the Middle East has revealed that in matters concerning Israeli rights under international law, there is essentially nothing new on the horizon. Fundamental Israeli rights, including even the right of Jews to live and construct homes anywhere in the land of Israel, are still being subordinated to the presumed rights of all others. This includes the annihilatory claims of a wrongly and an imprudently legitimized Palestinian Authority.

To be fair, Obama is not the originator of our misconceived U.S. foreign policy toward Israel. Oddly enough, already back in the 1990s Palestinian terrorist militias were being trained by the CIA in “counter terror tactics.” A key component of the Obama administration’s Palestinian policy had been the training of “moderate” Fatah-led Palestinian security forces. U.S. Lt. General Keith Dayton had supervised this self-defeating training in neighboring Jordan, an indefensible process of assisting sworn terrorist enemies of Israel and the United States.

If ever there has existed an irrefutable strategic oxymoron is “Palestinian counterterrorist forces.” The president, embracing a so-called Arab Peace Plan (previously, the “Saudi Plan”) seemingly still expects Israel to retreat to indefensible 1949 armistice lines, and, ultimately, to expel hundreds of thousands of Jews from their homes in Judea/Samaria, Jerusalem, and possibly the Golan Heights.

In essence, the Arab Plan that has been favored by Obama effectively demands that Israel incrementally cease being a Jewish state by allowing literally millions of foreign Arabs to become Israeli citizens within the country’s intentionally shrunken borders.

There is still another distressing layer of irony and illegality here. Each and every day Arab and Iranian media are filled with graphic calls for violence against all Jews, not “just” against Israelis. These explicit entreaties to aggression and genocide are not simply indecent or impermissible on moral grounds. They also stand in unassailably stark violation of codified and customary norms of international law. Indeed, as these particular norms are “peremptory” – that is, norms permitting absolutely “no derogation” – the relevant legal violations are ones of utmost seriousness.

Now that the American presidential election is on the horizon, we should inquire: Where are the expected demands of the president and his likely opponent for Arab/Iranian cessation of cries to “slaughter the Jews?”

The answer may have less to do with Washington than with Jerusalem. There will never be any such indispensable demands until Israel first begins to speak up for itself. In this connection, it is time for Israel’s representatives in all international organizations and forums to remind the world more plainly and consistently of their country’s incontestable rights to self-defense. Significantly, this can never be accomplished when Prime Minister Netanyahu is willing to agree to any idea of a Palestinian state, even one that will purportedly be “demilitarized.”

International law is not a suicide pact. Israel is under no obligation to disappear in order to satisfy undisguised cravings of genocidal hatred in various portions of the Islamic world. For its part, the United States, finally, should cease prodding Israel toward complicity in its own disappearance.

We can recall Jimmy Carter’s genuinely insidious motives in the Middle East. Although Obama may be substantially better intentioned toward Israel, he is still quite naïve concerning the inherently perilous synergies of Middle Eastern religion, culture, and politics. Hopefully, the most portentous consequences of this naiveté will be mitigated or removed after the coming presidential election.

In December 2004, after the then latest African genocide had already been “completed,” the world legal order dealt with a glaring case of organized hatred involving Rwanda. In that case, the particular venue was the International Criminal Tribunal in Rwanda (ICTR). More precisely, three African media executives were found guilty by ICTR of genocide, incitement to commit genocide, and crimes against humanity.

A Psychological Look Behind Jihadist Terror

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Sculptor Alberto Giacometti’s “Man Pointing” gesticulates ominously. Emaciated, skeletal, and tormented, the iconic sculpture is an artistic expression of humankind’s stalwart march toward suffering and recurring annihilation. Resembling the Swiss creator’s gaunt and unnaturally elongated figure, each of us has now become both a potential observer and a prospective casualty.

Today, as I have pointed out before in The Jewish Press, each of us is more or less threatened by jihadist sacrificial murder, a distinctly homicidal ethos that reassuringly (for the perpetrators) masquerades conveniently as “martyrdom.”

Where is Giacometti’s man pointing? Does he gesture toward the masses of still likely victims, or, judgmentally, to the always unrepentant murderers? Does his extended finger indict an entire species, or, rather, does it cast focused responsibility only upon certain discrete individuals or groups? Understood in terms of terrorism, especially the chemical/biological/nuclear threat now hanging perilously over the United States and Israel, the long finger points knowingly in several directions.

In the final analysis, the problem of all jihadist terrorism, including WMD terrorism, is a matter of primal human behavior. Moreover, such behavior is always the result of compelling private needs, and of seemingly irresistible collective expectations.

More than almost anything else, sometimes even more than the normally overriding drive to avoid death, human beings need to belong. This ubiquitous requirement can be expressed more or less benignly, as in familiar sports hysteria, or tumultuous rock concerts. Or it can be expressed grotesquely – in genocide, war, and terrorism.

Oddly enough, the underlying dynamic is always the same. In all cases, the individual person feels utterly empty and insignificant apart from his/her membership in the “herd.”

Sometimes that herd is the State. Sometimes it is the Tribe. Sometimes it is the Faith. Sometimes it is the “Liberation” or “Revolutionary” movement. But whatever the particular herd of the moment, it is the persistent craving for membership that can bring the terrible downfall of individual responsibility, and the terrifying corollary triumph of the collective will.

Unless certain of our fellow humans soon learn how to temper their overwhelming desire to belong, the prevailing military and political schemes to prevent and control anti-American and anti-Israeli terrorism will fail. To succeed, therefore, we will likely benefit more from an understanding of Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung than Carl von Clausewitz.

Today, the overwhelming desperation to belong is most evident in the Arab/Islamic world. How significant is this desperation to a real understanding of anti-American and anti-Israel terrorism? The philosopher Nietzsche can be helpful. Aware of the substantial harm that can be generated by the immense attractions of membership, Nietzsche declared with remarkable prescience: “To lure many away from the herd, for that I have come. The people and the herd shall be angry with me. Zarathustra wants to be called a robber by the shepherds.”

The most primary dangers of jihadist terrorism now stem from the combining of certain susceptible individuals into war-centered herds. Not every herd is terroristic, of course, but terrorism cannot take place in the absence of herds. When individuals crowd together and form a herd, the destructive dynamics of the mob may be released, lowering each person’s moral and intellectual level to a point where even mass killing may become altogether acceptable.

To understand what is happening behind the news, one must first recognize the manifest irony of terrorist objectives. Publicly, all Arab/Islamic terror is sacred violence, animated by the presumed will of Allah. In reality, however, the net effect of suicide bombings and mass slaughters is always to drown out any hint of godliness. By definition, there is simply no room in such “tactics” for human empathy, compassion, comity, or kindness.

In the presumed name of God, Arab/Islamic terror imposes upon the world neither salvation nor redemption, but rather the breathless rhythm of ritual murder and voluptuous killing. Although the killers would have us believe that God is their sole inspiration and their special witness, the inevitable end of all the delirium they create is despair. In the supreme irony of Arab/Islamic terror, the most conspicuous result of all this delirium is to prevent Man from remembering God.

To begin urgent investigations of already ongoing Arab/Islamic jihad against the United States, our scholars and policy makers should look closely at human meaning. To prevent expanding violence against the United States and Israel, Arab/Islamist terrorist groups must somehow be shorn of their capacity to bestow meaning. Even before this can happen, however, those individuals who turn to terrorist group membership must first discover more private sources of belonging. An underlying cause of terrorist crimes is always the continuing incapacity of individuals to draw authentic meaning from within themselves.

Israeli Security, Enemy Rationality, And Coming Global Chaos (Second of Two Parts)

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

“The blood-dimmed tide is loosed,” wrote the poet W.B. Yeats, “and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned.” Now, assembled in almost two hundred armed tribal camps politely called nation-states, all peoples – not only the people of Israel – coexist insecurely on a plainly anarchic planet. The core origins of this anarchy lie in the Peace of Westphalia (1648), which put a codified end to the Thirty Years War.

In time, even with the United Nations, there will be no safety in arms, no rescues from political authority, and no reassuring answers from science. New wars may rage until every flower of culture is trampled, and until all things human are leveled in a vast and utterly primal disorder.

In history and world politics, anarchy is an old story. Chaos is not. There is a meaningful distinction.

Chaos and anarchy represent opposite end points of the same continuum. Perversely, mere anarchy, or the absence of a central world authority, is normal. Chaos, however, is sui generis. It is thoroughly abnormal.

Since the seventeenth century, our anarchic world is best described as a system. What happens in any one part of this world necessarily affects what happens in some or all of the other parts. When deterioration is marked, and begins to spread from one nation to another, the corrosive effects can undermine regional and international stability. When this deterioration is rapid and catastrophic, as it would be following the start of any unconventional war and/or unconventional terrorism, the associated effects would be correspondingly immediate and overwhelming. These effects would be chaotic.

Aware that even an incremental collapse of remaining world authority structures will impact its friends as well as its enemies, leaders of the Jewish state will need to advance certain precise and plausible premonitions of collapse in order to chart durable paths to survival. Such indispensable considerations are likely not yet underway. Ironically, the principal paths under serious consideration still seem to be the badly potholed highways of a “road map.”

Israel’s leaders are wasting precious time with their polite considerations of twisted and clichéd cartographies. Soon, they will need to look beyond Iran, and consider how best to respond to international life in a global state of nature. The specific triggering mechanism of our disordered world’s precipitous descent into genuine chaos could originate from a variety of different mass-casualty attacks against Israel, or perhaps from similar attacks against other western democracies. Even the United States would not be immune to this starkly remorseless vulnerability.

Chaotic disintegration of the world system would transform the Israeli system. Such a transformation could involve reciprocal forms of destruction. In anticipation, Israel should orient its strategic planning to an assortment of utterly worst-case prospects, now focusing much more deliberately on a wide range of self-help security options.

This is an idea I have considered before here in The Jewish Press. It suggests that, however counter-intuitive, “thinking the worst” can offer both individuals and states their best path to survival.

Truth may sometimes emerge through paradox. Realistic imaginations of collective national immortality – imaginations generally encouraged by false hopes and delusional surrenders of personal responsibility – can actually discourage Israeli steps to enduring self-preservation.

To be sure, it is very difficult to ask Israelis to reject American-style positive thinking and instead to imagine the worst. Yet, as Swiss playwright Friedrich Durrenmatt says, incontestably: “The worst does sometime happen.” Now, however ironically, it would be better for Israel to err on the side of excessive pessimism. Then, literally at the eleventh-hour, spurred on by the most conspicuously dreadful visions of catastrophe, the people of Israel could begin to ward off the genuinely intolerable interstices between Palestinian statehood, Iranian nuclearization, and regional war.

Israel’s persistently one-sided surrender of territories, its mistaken reluctance to accept certain still-timely preemption imperatives and its periodic terrorist “exchanges” may never bring about direct defeat. Taken together, however, these inter-penetrating policy errors will have a cumulatively weakening effect on Israel. Whether the principal effect here will be one that “merely” impairs the Jewish state’s commitment to endure, or one that also opens it up to a devastating missile attack and/or to major acts of terror, is unclear.

For Israel, anarchy and disorder are inevitable. What might still be avoided, are chaos and mega-destruction. What must first be understood, are the differences between rationality, irrationality, and madness.

Israeli Security, Enemy Rationality, And Coming Global Chaos (First of Two Parts)

Wednesday, May 16th, 2012

In the past few years, on these pages of The Jewish Press, I have written several times about critical strategic implications of “chaos” and also of “irrationality” and “madness.” Still, I have never written about the fusion or juxtaposition of these seemingly distinct issues. However, because there are increasingly obvious and important potential interactions between them (military strategists would call such interactions “synergies,” or sometimes “force-multipliers”), I shall now examine these utterly core security matters with a view toward acknowledging their possible ways of coming together.

In particular, the results could be very important to a better understanding of what is now happening between Israel and Iran. This will be, therefore, a helpful and consciously purposeful look behind the current news.

In defense planning there exist critically important differences between rationality, irrationality, and madness. An irrational leadership may not value national survival more highly than anything else, but it may still have a consistent and therefore predictable hierarchy of preferences. For example, it may always value certain presumed religious obligations more than any other preference, or combination of preferences. This unsettling prospect, as we all already know, is a distinct possibility in present-day Iran.

A rational leadership elite, on the other hand, in the usual parlance of security studies, will always value national survival more highly than all other preferences, and it will always respect this same rank order in its hierarchy of preferences. Significantly, just as with an irrational national leadership, this set of rational decision-makers will also have a consistent hierarchy.

Madness is a different condition altogether; in world politics it means not having any established rank-ordering of preferences. Hence, a mad national leadership, with no consistent ordering of preferred choices, will be more-or-less wholly unpredictable. For Israel and the United States, having to face a mad adversary must always represent the very worst case scenario. But, at least for now, perhaps somewhat reassuringly, it is the most improbable case.

Enter Israel and Iran. According to recent statements by former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan, “The regime in Iran is a very rational one.” However, considering Dagan’s corollary explanations of “rationality,” he is saying only that the Iranian regime is not mad; that it will prudently consider all decisional consequences. Dagan’s notion of Iranian rationality may actually resemble our above-referenced meaning of irrationality – that this regime carefully weighs all expected costs and benefits, and that its preferences will always fall within a consistent hierarchy, or rank-ordering. The bottom line is this: Dagan’s statements notwithstanding, the current Iranian leadership cannot be reliably counted upon to value national survival above all else. Yes, its authority patterns may be entirely reasonable, well-ordered, and even predictable (certainly not “mad”), but there still can be no adequate assurances of ultimate and certain decisional priority for national self-preservation.

It follows from all this that successful “containment” or deterrence of an already-nuclear Iranian regime should not be taken for granted. The resulting balance-of-terror might still not closely replicate the circumstances of mutual assured destruction (MAD) that had once existed between the Soviet Union and the United States. This might not be your father’s Cold War.

This brings us, quite naturally, to chaos.

Chaotic disintegration is an evident fact of life in several parts of the world. Today, substantial and even sudden extensions of this condition to other sectors of our planet are plausible. Even with assorted arms control and disarmament visions, including President Obama’s continuing fantasy of “a world free of nuclear weapons,” it is credible to expect, somewhere, an eventual fusion of mass destruction weapons with irrationality and/or madness. Our current fears, of course, center on Iran, Syria, Pakistan and North Korea, but there are certainly other, as yet unforeseen, areas of peril.

From Israel’s particular standpoint, the dangers may be starkly unique. Confronting not only a growing threat from existing enemy states but also the more or less simultaneous appearance of a new enemy state of Palestine, Israel could find itself engulfed in mass-casualty terrorism, and/or in unconventional war. As to any long-promised security assistance from the United States, President Obama or his successor could offer little more than compassionate American help in burying the dead.

The probability of any genuine Middle East chaos would be enlarged by any future instances of enemy irrationality or madness. If Israel should begin to face an irrational Jihadi adversary that values certain presumed religious expectations more highly than its own physical survival, Israel’s deterrent could, by definition, be immobilized. This could mean a heightened threat of nuclear and/or biological war.

Rationality, Irrationality, And Madness: Core Enemy Differences For Israeli Nuclear Deterrence (Second of Three Parts)

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

A “bolt-from-the-blue” CBN (chemical, biological or even nuclear) attack on Israel launched with the expectation of city-busting reprisals might not necessarily exhibit irrationality or madness. Within such an attacking state’s particular ordering of preferences, any presumed religious obligation to annihilate the “Zionist Entity” could represent the overriding value.

Here, from the standpoint of the prospective attacker’s decisional calculus, the expected benefits of producing such a “blessed” annihilation would exceed the expected costs of any expected Israeli reprisal. Judged from this critical analytic standpoint, a seemingly “mad” attack decision could actually “make sense.”

Any enemy state with such explicitly exterminatory orientations could represent the individual suicide bomber in macrocosm. It is a meaningful and powerful image. Just as individual jihadists are now plainly willing to achieve personal “martyrdom,” so might certain jihadist states become willing to “sacrifice themselves” collectively. From a purely strategic standpoint, the fact that any such suicidal willingness would lack democratic origins would be irrelevant.

Any Iranian or Arab leaders making the decision to strike at Israel would be willing to make martyrs of their own people but probably not of themselves. In this not inconceivable decisional scenario, it would be judged acceptable by these particular leaders to sacrifice more or less huge portions of their respective populations, but only while they, and presumably their families, were themselves able to flee expeditiously to a predetermined, albeit still earth-bound, safe haven.

What is Israel to do? It can’t rely, forever, on even the most creative forms of preemption/anticipatory self-defense. It can’t very well choose to live, indefinitely, with enemies who might not always be reliably deterred by more usual threats of retaliation, and who are themselves already armed with assorted weapons of mass destruction.

Effectively, Israel cannot still decide to preempt against selected Iranian and/or other threatening military targets, because the operational prospects of success would now be very remote, and because the global outcry would be deafening. It cannot place more than partial faith in any anti-tactical ballistic missile defenses, because, after all, Israel’s Arrow would require a near-100 percent reliability of intercept to be purposeful in any soft-point protection of cities. Not even the oft-tested and brilliantly engineered Arrow, together with its corollary elements of active defense, can do this. The same “leakage” problems, for example, would apply to the shorter-range protections of Iron Dome.

The strategic options still available to Israel seem very limited; the associated consequences of failure could include national extinction.

If Israel’s enemies were all presumed to be rational, in the ordinary sense of valuing physical survival more highly than any other preference or combination of preferences, Jerusalem could begin, among other things, to exploit the strategic benefits of pretended irrationality. Recognizing that, in certain strategic situations, it can be rational to feign irrationality, Israel could then work to create more cautionary behavior among its relevant adversaries.

In such cases, the threat of an Israeli resort to a “Samson Option” might be enough to dissuade an enemy first-strike. Recalling Sun-Tzu, any more explicit Israeli hints of “Samson” could indicate a very useful grasp of the ancient Chinese strategist’s advice to diminish reliance on defense, and, instead, to “seize the unorthodox.”

If, however, Israel’s relevant adversaries were presumably irrational in this ordinary sense, there would likely be no real benefit to postures of pretended irrationality. This is the case because the more probable threat of any massive Israeli nuclear counterstrike linked in enemy calculations with irrationality would be no more compelling to Iran, or to any other enemy state, than if it were confronted by a presumably rational State of Israel.

In strategic nuance, Israel could benefit from a greater understanding of the “rationality of pretended irrationality,” but only in particular reference to expectedly rational enemy states. In those circumstances where such enemy states were presumed to be irrational, something else would be needed, something other than nuclear deterrence, preemption, and/or ballistic missile defense.

Although many commentators and scholars still believe the answer to this quandary lies in certain far-reaching political settlements, this time-dishonored belief is born largely of frustration, and utterly naïve self-delusion. Recalling regional histories, it is not the documented product of any deliberate or informed strategic calculation. No meaningful political settlements can ever be worked out with enemies who openly seek Israel’s “liquidation,” a word still used commonly in many Arab and Iranian newspapers, web sites, and texts.

Israel must fully understand that irrationality need not mean madness. Even an irrational state leadership may have an identifiable, consistent, and transitive hierarchy of wants. The first task for Israel, therefore, must always be to identify this hierarchy among its several state enemies.

Although these states might not be deterred from aggression by even the plausibly persuasive threat of massive Israeli retaliations, they might still be deterred by certain threats aimed at what they do hold to be most important.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/rationality-irrationality-and-madness-core-enemy-differences-for-israeli-nuclear-deterrence-second-of-three-parts/2012/05/03/

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