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Israel, in the fashion of every nation, positively shrinks from annihilation. How could it be otherwise?
Generally, the Israeli is despised in the Islamic world because he or she is a Jew, a condition of presumed infirmity that can never be "remedied." Consider the following facts:
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.
Jorge Luis Borges, the very special Argentine writer and philosopher, sometimes quite happily identified himself as a sort of Jew. Although lacking any apparent basis in halacha, he nonetheless felt himself to be a deeply kindred spirit: "Many a time I think of myself as a Jew," he is quoted in Willis Barnstone's Borges at Eighty: Conversations (1982), "but I wonder whether I have the right to think so. It may be wishful thinking."
Sometimes, as I have asserted from time to time in this column, seeing requires distance. Now, suffocating daily in political and economic rants from both the Right and the Left, we Americans must promptly confront a critical need to look beyond the historical moment, to seek both meaning and truth behind the news. There, suitably distant from the endlessly adrenalized jumble of current fears and concerns, we could finally understand the timeless struggle of individual against mass, of the singular person against the "crowd."
For Israel, the prime inheritor of Genesis, an expanding global chaos portends a very unusual, and also ironic, kind of fragility. A relentlessly beleaguered microstate, and always the individual Jew writ large, Israel could become the principal victim of international disorder. In view of the exceptionally far-reaching interrelatedness of all world politics, this could be true even if the actual precipitating events of war and terror would occur elsewhere.
Even with Osama bin Laden gone, al Qaeda operatives, some actively collaborating with more-or-less kindred groups, are planning terror attacks against the United States. These attacks could conceivably involve chemical and/or biological weapons.
IDF planners working on an improved strategic paradigm will need to understand the following: Removing the bomb from Israel's "basement" could enhance Israel's nuclear deterrent to the extent that it would enlarge enemy perceptions of secure and capable Israeli nuclear forces. Such a calculated end to deliberate ambiguity could also underscore Israel's willingness to use these nuclear forces in reprisal for certain enemy first-strike and retaliatory attacks. From the standpoint of successful Israeli nuclear deterrence, IDF planners must proceed on the assumption that perceived willingness is always just as important as perceived capability. This, again, may bring to mind the counter intuitively presumed advantages for Israel of sometimes appearing less than fully rational.
Project Daniel understood that international law has long allowed for states to initiate forceful defensive measures when there exists "imminent danger" of aggression. This rule of anticipatory self-defense was expanded and reinforced by then-President George W. Bush's issuance of The National Security Strategy of the United States of America. Released on September 20,2002, this document asserted, inter alia, that traditional concepts of deterrence would not work against an enemy "whose avowed tactics are wanton destruction and the targeting of innocents...." As Israel is substantially less defensible and more vulnerable than the United States, its particular right to resort to anticipatory self-defense under threat of readily identifiable existential harms is beyond legal question.
Both Israeli 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. In any event, the likelihood of nuclear exchanges would obviously be greatest where potential Arab and/or Iranian aggressors were allowed to deploy ever-larger numbers of unconventional weapons without eliciting appropriate Israeli and/or American preemptions.
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 beforebeing 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.
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."
Let me return very specifically topreemption, in counter-terrorist operations, and in national self-defense against existential threats from other states. In this regard, there are two basic considerations before us here at the conference: legal and operational. Naturally, our capacity to succeed on both dimensions at the same time will sometimes be problematic. Moreover, there are potentially important trade-offs, and also interactions or synergies between the legal and the operational considerations that should be better understood.
The following Keynote Address was delivered by Professor Beres to the Intelligence Summit in St. Petersburg on March 5, 2007. It is published here for the very first time in its original form. These formal remarks presented by our own Strategic and Military Affairs analyst to very senior members of the military and intelligence communities (U.S., Israeli and certain others) remain starkly relevant and timely.
Fourth, the Obama anti-nuclear vision does not provide any useful guidance on how to deal with those refractory states and sub-states that may not be subject to ordinary deterrent threats. This brings to mind the perplexing security problem of prospective enemy irrationality.
Worldwide, it is generally assumed that Israel's nuclear policy of deliberate ambiguity makes good sense. Everyone already knows that Israel has "the Bomb." So, why "stir the pot" by retreating from "opacity?"
U.S. President Barack Obama will not back away from his so-called "Road Map to Peace in the Middle East." Even now, a plainly self-defeating "Two-State Solution" remains the cornerstone of this twisted cartography. Understanding all this, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seemingly continues to harbor hopes that, somehow, any Palestinian state would be suitably demilitarized. Such hopes, of course, would necessarily rest upon a problematic antecedent assumption that demilitarization could actually work.
It is not always easy, in studying world politics, to know when power is really "powerful," and when weakness is really "weak." Oddly enough, some states that are presumably very powerful in measurable military terms may occasionally have to yield to others that seemingly lack power altogether. Even more ironically, in the case of Israel versus Hamas, the presumably powerful state is increasingly at the mercy of a brutal criminal organization that is substantially less autonomous than a truly sovereign state, and that has no armed forces even worth mentioning.
By every tangible military and economic standard, Israel is more powerful than its Palestinian foes. Nonetheless, from time to time, there are stark and compelling reminders in world politics that the powerful can sometimes be weak, and that the weak can sometimes be powerful. For example, despite its evident superiority in arms, Israel is periodically at the mercy of Palestinian rockets fired into civilian areas from Gaza.
We Jews are already accustomed to irony, but - only rarely - does the subject in question rise to the daunting level of human survival. Here, however, is one of those rare subjects. Considering it carefully, we can begin to appreciate the obligation to look at our world with genuinely larger questions in mind. In other words, we should quickly begin to recognize a distinct imperative to look behind the news.