web analytics
April 25, 2014 / 25 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Military Affairs’

Eight Years Of Unheeded ‘Daniel’ Warnings About Iran What Happens Next? (Part VI)

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011

The views expressed in this eight-column article on Project Daniel are solely those of Professor Louis René Beres.

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.

Following the Bush doctrine expansion of preemption, the Group suggested to then-Prime Minister Sharon that such policy should pertain as well to certain nuclear and/or biological WMD threats against Israel, that this policy be codified as formal doctrine, and that these actions be conventional in nature. Such preemption could be overt or covert, and range from “decapitation” to full-scale military operations. Further, the Group advised that decapitation may apply to both enemy leadership elites (state and non-state), and to various categories of technical experts who would be essential to the fashioning of enemy WMD arsenals, e.g., nuclear scientists.

The Group reminded the prime minister that any forcible prevention of enemy nuclear/biological deployment would be profoundly different from an Israeli preemption of an existing enemy nuclear/biological force. Attempts at preemption against an enemy that had already been allowed to go nuclear/biological could be far too risky and could even invite an existential retaliation. It was also recommended that any preemption be carried out exclusively by conventional high-precision weapons, not only because they are likely to be more effective than nuclear weapons, but also because preemption with nuclear weapons could be wrongly interpreted as Israeli nuclear first strikes. If unsuccessful, these preemptive strikes could elicit an enemy’s “counter-value” second strike; that is, a deadly intentional attack upon Israeli civilian populations.

The Group advised emphatically that Israel should avoid non-conventional exchanges with enemy states wherever possible. It is never in Israel’s interest to engage these states in WMD warfare if other options exist. Israel’s Strategic Future did not instruct how to “win” a war in a WMD Middle-East environment. Rather, it described what we, the members of Project Daniel, considered the necessary, realistic and optimal conditions for non-belligerence toward Israel in the region. These conditions still include a coherent and comprehensive Israeli doctrine for preemption, war fighting, deterrence and defense.

The Group advised the prime minister that there is no operational need for low-yield nuclear weapons geared to actual battlefield use. Overall, we recommended that the most efficient yield for Israeli deterrence and counterstrike purposes be a counter-value targeted warhead at a level sufficient to hit the aggressor’s principal population centers and fully compromise that aggressor’s national viability. We urged that Israel make absolutely every effort to avoid ever using nuclear weapons in support of conventional war operations. These weapons could create a seamless web of conventional and nuclear battlefields that Israel should scrupulously avoid.

The Group considered it gainful for Israel to plan for very selective regime targeting in certain residual instances. With direct threats employed against individual enemy leaders and possible others, costs to Israel could be very much lower than alternative forms of warfare. At the same time, threats of regime targeting could be even more persuasive than threats to destroy enemy weapons and infrastructures, but only if the prospective victims were first made to feel sufficiently at risk.

The Group advanced a final set of suggestions concerning the lawful remedy of anticipatory self-defense. Israel must be empowered with a “Long Arm” to meet its preemption objectives. This meant long-range fighter aircraft with capability to penetrate deep, heavily defended areas, and to survive. It also meant air-refueling tankers; communications satellites and long-range unmanned aerial vehicles. More generally, it continues to mean survivable precision weapons with high lethality; and also incrementally refined electronic warfare and stealth capacities.

The Group strongly endorsed the Prime Minister’s acceptance of a broad concept of defensive first strikes, but just as strongly advised against using his undisclosed nuclear arsenal for anything but essential deterrence. This means that enemy states must always understand that certain forms of aggression against Israel will assuredly elicit massive Israeli nuclear reprisals against city targets. For the moment, I still maintain that such an understanding can be communicated by Israel without any forms of explicit nuclear disclosure, but I also recognize that the presumed adequacy of nuclear ambiguity would change immediately if enemy nuclearization anywhere (Iran, of course, comes most quickly to mind) should become a reality.

Moreover, although both Iran and Israel’s pertinent Arab state enemies certainly share a fundamental antipathy to a Jewish state in their midst, it is also clear that they do not necessarily share any affection for each other. In this connection, Project Daniel’s original recommendation that certain front line Arab states and Iran could all be targeted following an anonymous existential attack may now need careful reconsideration and revision. After all, in current circumstances,The Group’s original recommendation could be exploited by either set of Islamic enemies to crush the other via Israeli “reprisals.”

Louis René Beres is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

Eight Years Of Unheeded ‘Daniel’ Warnings About Iran What Happens Next? (Part IV)

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

The views expressed in this eight-column article on Project Daniel are solely those of Professor Louis René Beres, and may not reflect the opinions of any other members of Project Daniel, or of any government.

 

            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.

 

            Should such deployment be allowed to take place, Israel might effectively forfeit the non-nuclear preemption option. Here its only alternatives to nuclear preemption could be a no-longer viable conventional preemption or simply waiting to be attacked itself. It follows, said The Group, that the risks of an Israeli nuclear preemption, of nuclear exchanges with an enemy state, and of enemy nuclear first strikes could all be reduced by certain timely Israeli and/or American non-nuclear preemptions. These preemptions would be directed at critical military targets and/or at pertinent regimes. As explained by Project Daniel, the latter option could possibly include dedicated elimination of particular enemy leadership elites and/or certain enemy scientists.

 

        Project Daniel examined some of the precise ways in which a nuclear war might actually begin between Israel and its enemies. From the standpoint of preventing such a war, it is essential, we reasoned, that Israel protect itself with suitable policies of preemption, defense and deterrence. This last set of policies will depend substantially upon whether Israel continues to keep its bomb in the “basement” or whether it decides to change formally from a nuclear posture of deliberate ambiguity to one of selected and deliberately partial disclosure.

 

            In one respect, the issue is already somewhat moot. Shortly after coming to power as prime minister, Shimon Peres already took the unprecedented step of openly acknowledging Israel’s nuclear capability.  Responding to press questions about the Oslo peace process and the probable extent of Israeli concessions, Peres remarked that he would be “delighted” to “give up the Atom” if the entire region would only embrace a comprehensive security plan.  Although this remark was certainly not an intended expression of changed nuclear policy, it did raise the question of a more tangible Israeli shift away from nuclear ambiguity. Certain public remarks by later Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and also certain recent missile tests in Israel, may have had similarly shifting effects.
            Project Daniel recognized that the nuclear disclosure issue is far more than a simple “yes” or “no.”  Obviously, the basic question had already been answered by Peres’ “offer.”  What still needs to be determined is the exact timing of purposeful disclosure and the extent of subtlety and detail with which Israel should actually communicate its nuclear capabilities and intentions to selected enemy states. This issue was central to the deliberations of Project Daniel, which concluded in 2003 that Israel’s bomb should remain in the basement as long as possible, but also that it should be revealed in particular contours if enemy circumstances should change in an expressly ominous fashion.

 

            Because the Project Daniel report stipulated the need for an expanded Israeli doctrine of preemption, this Project Daniel statement on nuclear ambiguity meant that Israel should promptly remove the bomb from its “basement” if, for whatever reason, Israel should have failed to exploit the recommended doctrine of preemption. Today, with President Obama in the White House, deliberate nuclear ambiguity seems even more out-of-date. Nonetheless, this is a very subtle strategic issue that requires immediate and careful attention in capable and authoritative quarters.

 

             An antecedent issue of overriding importance is Mr. Obama’s oft-stated goal of a “world free of nuclear weapons.”   Such a world, of course, would likely bring about the literal end of Israel. Without nuclear weapons, ambiguous or disclosed, Israel would sooner or later face the full fury of Clausewitz’s phrase, “Mass counts.”

 

            Project Daniel understood that the rationale for Israeli nuclear disclosure does not lie in expressing the obvious; that is, that Israel simply has “the bomb.” Rather, it lies in the critical understanding that nuclear weapons can serve Israel’s security in a number of different ways, and that all of these ways could benefit the Jewish State to the extent that certain aspects of these weapons and associated strategies are appropriately disclosed. The pertinent form and extent of disclosure would be especially vital to Israeli nuclear deterrence.

 

             Exactly what this particular form and extent should be has yet to be determined. It should, therefore, now be considered a question of authentically supreme importance to Israel’s strategists.

 

            To protect itself against enemy strikes, particularly those attacks that could carry existential costs, Project Daniel recommended that Israel exploit every component function of its nuclear arsenal.  The success of Israel’s efforts, we acknowledged, will depend in large measure not only upon its chosen configuration of counterforce(hard-target) and counter-value (city-busting) operations, but also upon the extent to which this configuration is made known in advance to enemy states.  Before such an enemy is deterred from launching first-strikes against Israel, or before it is deterred from launching retaliatory attacks following an Israeli preemption, it may not be enough that it simply “knows” that Israel has the Bomb.  It may also need to recognize that these Israeli nuclear weapons are sufficiently invulnerable to such attacks and that they are aimed at very high-value targets.

 

            In this connection, and as indicated earlier here, the Final Report of Project Daniel recommended”a recognizable retaliatory force should be fashioned with the capacity to destroy some 15 high-value targets scattered widely over pertinent enemy states in the Middle East.” This counter-value strategy meant that Israel’s second-strike response to enemy aggressions involving certain biological and/or nuclear weapons would be unambiguously directed at enemy populations, not at enemy weapons or infrastructures. Looking over the evolution of pertinent existential threats to Israel over the past eight years, it seems that our original recommendation was correct.

 

            It may appear, at first glance, that Israeli targeting of enemy military installations and troop concentrations (counterforce targeting) could be both more compelling as a deterrent, and also more humane. But it is likely, even plausible, that a nuclear-armed enemy of Israel could regard any Israeli retaliatory destruction of its armed forces as “acceptable” in certain circumstances. Such an enemy might conclude, for example, that the expected benefits of annihilating Israel would outweigh any expected retaliatory harms to its military. Here, Israel’s nuclear deterrent would fail, possibly with existential consequences.

 

Louis René Beres is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

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.

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.

On Existential Threats And Lethal Remedies A Jurisprudential View (Part II)

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

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.

Let me return very specifically to preemption, 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.

Whether or not we can argue persuasively for preemption in purely operational terms (and that will depend, inter alia, upon the complexities of each pertinent theatre of conflict), there is a determinable right under international law called anticipatory self-defense. The “international community” may typically frown upon such a right as merely pretext for defensive first-strikes (and they are ideas that can conceivably be abused), yet, reciprocally, no government is ever obliged to compel its citizens to simply sit back, and await their unresisted annihilation. In 1996, in an authoritative advisory opinion, the International Court of Justice ruled that, in certain existential circumstances, a state may even have the defensive right to resort to nuclear weapons.

Today, the risks in certain circumstances of not striking first are perhaps greater than ever before.

Anticipatory self-defense is an expression of customary international law. The sources of International Law are found at Art. 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice. There, “international custom” is identified expressly as a fully authoritative source.

Back to Iran. We already know that Iran today is not Iraq on June 7, 1981, the day of Israel’s “Operation Opera” strike against the Osiraq nuclear reactor near Baghdad. We already know, operationally, that any act of anticipatory self-defense against hardened/dispersed/multiplied Iranian nuclear infrastructures and command control facilities would entail huge and possibly intolerable strategic, political and human costs. Nonetheless, we must always compare these expected costs to the presumed costs of not preempting at all. Recalling judgments regarding perfidyunder the law of war, many expected Iranian civilian casualties following an American and/or Israeli preemption would prove, perhaps indisputably, to be the legal responsibility of Iran.

International law is not a suicide pact. We are not obligated to sit back and try to coexist with a fully nuclearized Iran, especially an Iran that remains openly indifferent to its codified Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) obligations, and that maintains a persistently genocidal orientation toward Israel. The inherent limits of any fixedly defensive posture, articulated most famously by Sun-Tzu, were recalled last week in an article I published together with Major-General Paul Vallely.

Let me conclude with some specific recommendations of Project Daniel(completed in mid-January 2003, several months before the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom). We (The Project Daniel Group) linked anticipatory self-defense to various alternative preemption scenarios, and to the National Security Strategy of the United States of America (September 20, 2002). We also examined and endorsed expanded strategic cooperation between Washington and Jerusalem, with particular reference to maintaining Israel’s “qualitative edge.” Among other things, Project Daniel looked very closely at a recommended “paradigm shift” to deal with ascending low-intensity and long-range WMD threats to Israel. We also considered the specific circumstances under which Israel should purposefully end its current posture of “deliberate nuclear ambiguity.”

The Project Daniel Group, comprised primarily of very senior (retired) figures from the Israeli military and intelligence communities, urged continuance of constructive support to the US-led War On Terror. We stipulated that Israel should combine a strengthening of multilayered active defenses with a credible, secure and decisive nuclear deterrent. The shortfalls of too great a reliance on the Arrow anti-ballistic missile (ABM) are also detailed in other articles I co-authored recently with Lt. General Thomas McInerney, and with Major-General Isaac Ben-Israel (IDF/Israel Air Force).

To meet IMOD/IDF mission goals, Israel’s recognizable retaliatory force should be fashioned with the capacity to destroy some 10 – 20 high-value targets scattered widely over certain enemy states in the Middle East. Early on, The Project Daniel Grouprecognized a very basic asymmetry between Israel and portions of the Arab/Iranian world concerning the desirability of peace, the absence of democracy, the acceptability of terror as a legitimate weapon, and the relative size of populations. Importantly, The Project Daniel Group concluded, inter alia, that non-conventional exchanges between Israel and its enemies must always be avoided. We argued, back in 2003, that Israel must never allow a nuclear Iran, and that it must prepare, both tactically and jurisprudentially, for lawful preemptive strategies, even if the United States and the larger “international community” should choose to reject and condemn the preemption option.

Thomas Jefferson, as an avid reader and philosopher, was familiar with the writings of Cicero, Grotius, Burlamaqui, Pufendorf, van Bynkershoek, Vattel and, of course, Locke. In several of his “lesser” writings, Jefferson argued firmly, on the express basis of Natural Law, that all states always have an overriding obligation to endure. This argument, reinforced in 1996 by the International Court of Justice advisory opinion on nuclear weapons, is even more compelling today than it was in earlier centuries.

Odd as it may first appear, even assassination and preemption may sometimes have a distinctly lawful and proper place in purposeful considerations of counter-terrorism, national security and national survival.

International law is not a suicide pact.

LOUIS RENÉ BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971), Strategic and Military Affairs analyst for The Jewish Press, is the author of many major books and articles dealing with nuclear strategy issues, terrorism and international law. Professor Beres was born in Zürich, Switzerland, on August 31, 1945.

On Existential Threats And Lethal Remedies: A Jurisprudential View (Part I)

Thursday, December 30th, 2010

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.

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Thank you. The conference main theme, in essence, concerns our individual and collective survival amidst increasing global chaos. With this in mind, the Irish poet Yeats appropriately reminds us: “The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned.”

But chaos, war, terror and genocide are not really new. Human nature has always tilted innately toward catastrophic destruction (think, for example, of seminal writings by Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Freud, Jung, Dostoyevsky, Golding, etc). What is new is the particular fusion of these seemingly permanent human inclinations to do harm with the utterly unique implements of mass destruction.

Friends, our principal task over the next several days is to figure out more precisely how to respond to this (literally) dreadful fusion. We will want to accomplish this calculation, of course, within the operational parameters of the now-prevailing and thoroughly global clash of civilizations, a clash with more-or-less identifiable Jihadist elements that function primarily in certain portions of the Arab/Islamic world. In our upcoming plenary speeches, and also in our correlative panel discussions, I urge us all to be aptly conceptual, to look, substantially, behind the news.

All of us know that it is easy to get passionate and blinded by the sheer horror of these complex issues, and thus to be distracted from the indispensably primary task of dispassionate, theoretical and intellectual understanding. Nothing is more practical than good theory. This is not all that obvious to most policy-makers; indeed, it is even viscerally counter-intuitive. Still, if we focus too heavily on the shallow polemics and the immediately accessible politics of the moment, intra-national and/or international, we will surely fail to understand the underlying anthropology and psychology of our multiple enemies’ behavior. Such a failure could prove very costly.

The best way for us to truly fathom and combat Jihadist suicide-bombing terrorism is to understand that it is, at its core, a form of religious sacrifice. It is also vital to understand that the suicide bomber is not fearless or courageous at all, but rather that he or she acts out of an altogether primal cowardice – an all-consuming fear of death. Notably, it is this elementary death fear that causes him or her to commit both suicide and homicide.

The explanation for this apparent paradox is as follows: In the mind of the suicide bomber, a fiery death on earth, a so-called martyr’s death, is merely a momentary inconvenience on the much grander path to immortality. The suicide-bomber thus “kills” himself or herself in order not to die.

What about a suicide-bomber in macrocosm, that is, an entire state that may be willing to “die” in order to fulfill a presumed religious “obligation?”  Think Iran, as certain of its leaders joyfully await the Shiite apocalypse. What would this willingness do to the critical logic of deterrence, the logic upon which all of our personal and collective lives must continue to depend? Exactly how would we have to respond, philosophically and operationally, if we were suddenly to confront a recognizable fusion of nuclear capacity with enemy irrationality? In such circumstances, what should be our rational response?

An obvious consideration would be the heightened reasonableness of preemption, which, under international law, may or may not be consistent with what is formally termed “anticipatory self-defense.”Interestingly, in the future, preemptive action might even be expressed via certain forms of cyber-warfare, rather than (or perhaps in addition to) the more usual forms of physical destruction.

International law is not a suicide pact. Normally, assassination is illegal, both in time of war and in time of peace. There are times, however, when such killing can be considered not only lawful, but also distinctly law enforcing.

There is, after all, an indisputable operational need here for a straightforwardly utilitarian calculation: The preemptive elimination of terrorists, especially those terrorists who might plan mass-casualty attacks, could save many innocent lives. Relevant choices between public safety and individual liberty are always difficult to make in a democracy, but it would be foolish to begin with the unyielding and assuredly self-destructive presumption that our enemies’ blood is somehow redder than our own.

Assassination, or “targeted killings,” should always be attentive to the law of armed conflict, especially to the long-established criteria of discrimination, proportionality and military necessity.But this law must also take into account enemy perfidy; for example, “human shields.” The legal effect of perfidy, which is always an egregious war crime, is to place legal responsibility for any unintended noncombatant deaths and injuries upon the perfidious party.

(To Be Continued)

LOUIS RENÉ BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971), Strategic and Military Affairs analyst for The Jewish Press, is the author of many major books and articles dealing with nuclear strategy issues, terrorism and international law. Professor Beres was born in Zürich, Switzerland, on August 31, 1945.

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

Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010

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.

How, then, should Israel’s own developing plans for dealing with non-rational adversaries be affected by the Obama anti-nuclear vision, especially where these adversaries (e.g., Iran) may soon become irreversibly nuclear?

Fifth, long-term, Israeli leaders and strategists must learn to consider seemingly irrelevant literature, real literature, not the narrowly technical or tactical materials normally generated by professional military thinkers, but the genuinely creative and artistic product of writers, poets and playwrights. The invaluable intellectual insights that can be gleaned from this literature may sometimes provide a far better source of authentic strategic understanding than the visually impressive, but very often misleading, matrixes, mathematics, metaphors and scenarios of the “experts.” Regarding limitations of the experts, it would be good for planners to consider the work of the great Spanish existentialist, José Ortega y Gasset, especially The Revolt of the Masses and History as a System.

Sixth, Israeli leaders and strategists should acknowledge and also act upon the occasional and significant advantages of private as opposed to collective strategic thought. Here, they should be reminded of Aristotle’s prescient view: “Deception occurs to a greater extent when we are investigating with others than by ourselves, for an investigation with someone else is carried on quite as much by means of the thing itself.”

There is a correct time for collaborative or “team” investigations, but in certain matters concerning Israeli security, as in science generally, one may sometimes discover optimal reasoning and greater value in the private musings of single individuals. This observation refers with particular relevance to strategic doctrine.

Seventh, Israeli leaders and strategists now need to open up, again, and with even greater diligence and formal insight, the policy question of nuclear ambiguity. Possibly under growing urgings from Obama’s will to denuclearize, perhaps even under very specific pressure to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), they will have to understand that any doctrinal re-examination of the “bomb in the basement” is not just another academic exercise. Rather, such re-examination could come at a time that new American strategic guidance would openly condemn any indispensable Israeli nuclear disclosure.

How, then, should Israel balance its almost ritual obeisance to Washington with its more obvious and indisputably more primary need for survival?

Eighth, again with a very clear view to changing nuclear doctrine in the United States, Israeli leaders and strategists will need to expand their consideration of much wider questions of nuclear weapons and national strategy. Ideally, this would be done in concert with all of the other above-listed strategic requirements. Key issues here would be nuclear targeting doctrine (counter value versus counterforce); preemption, and ballistic missile defense.

Depending upon Israel’s willingness to risk Washington’s displeasure, these strategic postures will be more-or-less impacted by President Obama’s naive and dangerous nuclear vision.

Nuclear weapons are neither good nor evil in themselves. In the case of Israel, such weapons incontestably represent an important instrument of peace. They are, in fact, an utterly critical impediment to regional nuclear war.

With its nuclear arsenal unimpaired, Israel – assuming rational adversaries – could effectively deter enemy unconventional attacks, and also most large conventional ones. While still in possession of such an arsenal, Israel could also launch assorted non-nuclear preemptive strikes against an enemy state’s hard targets. Without its secure nuclear arsenal, ambiguous or disclosed, any such expressions of anticipatory self-defense could trigger the onset of a much wider and more catastrophic war. This is because there would no longer be any compelling threat of an Israeli counter-retaliation.

Israel’s secure nuclear arsenal is required to fulfill essential deterrence options, preemption options, war-fighting options and even the so-called (last resort) “Samson Option.” This arsenal should never be negotiated away in any formal international agreements, especially in the midst of an American-brokered “peace process” and its attendant creation of “Palestine.” This Israeli existential obligation obtains no matter how appealing might be the idealized vision of “a world without nuclear weapons,” and no matter how high the authority of this deceptively attractive vision’s most enthusiastic and visible advocate.

In the final analysis, regrettable as it may seem, the structure of long-term Israeli security must be built upon the recognizable foundations of secure nuclear forces and strategic doctrine, and not on the thoroughly idealized world constructed by an American president.

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).

Israel’s Nuclear Ambiguity: Opportunity Or Liability? (Part I)

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

“For By Wise Counsel, Thou Shalt Make Thy War”

Proverbs  24,6

 

            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?”

 

            Deducible from this conventional argument, removing “the bomb” from Israel’s “basement” would elicit widespread and needless global condemnation. Moreover, such condemnation would include some very sharp and very consequential disapproval from Washington.

 

            Still, as I have made plain in previous columns, the core strategic issues here are not really plain and straightforward.  Rather, in the uniquely arcane world of Israeli nuclear deterrence, it can never be enough that enemy states simply acknowledge the Jewish state’s nuclear status. Among other things, it is important that these states also believe that Israel has usable nuclear weapons, and that Jerusalem would be willing to employ these weapons in certain very precise and readily identifiable situations.

 

            There are, therefore, some very sound reasons to doubt the conventional wisdom that Israel would necessarily benefit from a rigidly determined continuance of nuclear ambiguity.

 

             Israel needs its nuclear weapons. This basic fact is incontestable. Without these weapons, as I have written often, Israel could not survive. 

 

            For Israel, the principal risks are more than merely generic or general. This is because its existing regional adversaries will sometime be joined by: (1) a new enemy Arab state of  Palestine;” and  (2) a newly nuclear enemy Iran. At a minimum, if deprived of its own nuclear weapons, Israel would then be unable to deter major enemy aggressions. Without these special weapons, Israel could not respond convincingly to existential hazards with plausible threats of retaliation and/or counter-retaliation.

 

             At the same time, just having nuclear weapons, even when they are plainly recognized by enemy states, will not ensure successful deterrence. In this connection, although starkly counter-intuitive, an appropriately selective and nuanced end to deliberate ambiguity could substantially improve and sustain Israel’s otherwise-imperiled nuclear deterrent.  More exactly, the probability of assorted enemy attacks in the future could be reduced by making available certain additional information concerning Israel’s nuclear weapons, and its relevant strategic postures. This crucial information would center on distinctly major issues of both nuclear capability, and decisional willingness.

 

             Skeptics will disagree. It is, after all, reasonable to assert that nuclear opacity has  “worked” thus far.  While Israel’s nuclear ambiguity has done little to deter “ordinary” enemy aggressions or multiple acts of terror, it has succeeded in keeping the country’s enemies from mounting authentically existential aggressions.

 

            These larger aggressions could have been mounted without nuclear or biological weapons. As the nineteenth-century Prussian strategic theorist, Karl von Clausewitz, observed in his classic essay, On War, there inevitably does come a military tipping point when “mass counts.”

 

            Israel is half the size of Lake Michigan. Its enemies have always had an undeniable advantage in “mass.”  Excluding non-Arab Pakistan, none of Israel’s Jihadist foes has “The Bomb.”  But together, in a determined collaboration, they could still have acquired the capacity to carry out intolerably lethal assaults. Acting collectively, these states and their insurgent proxies, even without nuclear weapons, could already have inflicted unacceptable harms upon the Jewish state.

 

            An integral part of Israel’s multi-layered security system lies in active or ballistic missile defenses – essentially, the Arrow or “Hetz.” Yet, even the well-regarded and successfully tested Arrow could never achieve a sufficiently high probability of intercept to adequately protect Israeli civilians. No system of ballistic missile defense can ever be entirely “leak proof,” and even a single incoming nuclear missile that managed to penetrate Arrow defenses could kill tens or hundreds of thousands of Israelis. Significantly, however, the inherent “leakage” limitations of Arrow would be correspondingly less consequential if Israel’s continuing reliance on deliberate ambiguity were suitably diminished.

 

To Be Continued

 

Louis René Beres  (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) was Chair of Project Daniel.  Professor of Political Science and International Law at Purdue, he is the author of many major books and articles on nuclear strategy and nuclear war, including publications in International Security (Harvard); World Politics (Princeton); The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; Nativ (Israel); The Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs; Parameters: The Professional Journal of the US Army War College; Special Warfare (DoD); Studies in Conflict and Terrorism; Strategic Review; Contemporary Security Policy; Armed Forces and Society; Israel Affairs; Comparative Strategy; and The International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence. Professor Beres’ monographs on nuclear strategy and nuclear war have been published by The Ariel Center for Policy Research (Israel); The Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies (University of Notre Dame); The Graduate Institute of International Studies (Geneva); and the Monograph Series on World Affairs (University of Denver). His frequent opinion columns have appeared in The New York Times; Christian Science Monitor; Chicago Tribune; Washington Post; Washington Times; Boston Globe; USA Today; The Jerusalem Post;  Ha’aretz (Israel); Neue Zuricher Zeitung (Switzerland); and U.S. News & World Report.

 

Dr. Louis René Beres was born in Zürich, Switzerland, on August 31, 1945. He is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/israels-nuclear-ambiguity-opportunity-or-liability/2010/10/06/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: