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December 22, 2014 / 30 Kislev, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘Military Affairs’

A New Military Reality: Suffering Existential Harms Without Losing A War

Thursday, August 19th, 2010
 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.

 

A related polarity, also subject to frequent conceptual confusion, distinguishes “victory” from “defeat.” Today, any discussion of our current American conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan must inevitably come down to these two possible war-terminating conclusions, yet these outcomes may still turn out to be less than determinative. This is because the tangible and formal results of these conflicts may have little real bearing on the actual condition of our national security. Whether we ultimately “win” or “lose” in these theaters of military operation, or in any other theaters for that matter, the vulnerability of American cities to both mass-destruction terrorism, and ballistic missile attack will likely remain the same.

 

The times, therefore, have changed. It was not always this way. At Thermopylae, for example, we learn from Herodotus, the Greeks suffered a stunning defeat in 480 BCE.

 

               But, then, Persian King Xerxes could not even contemplate the destruction of Athens until he had first secured a decisive victory. Only after the Persian defeat of Leonidas and his defending forces, would the Athenians be forced to abandon Attica. Transporting themselves to the island of Salamis, the Greeks would then witness the Persians triumphally burning their houses, and destroying their temples.

 

Why should this ancient Greek tragedy be significant for us?  Until the onset of our nuclear era, states, city-states and empires were essentially secure from homeland destruction unless their armies had already been defeated. For would-be aggressors before 1945, a capacity to destroy had always required a prior capacity to win. Without a victory, intended aggressions were never really much more than military intentions.

 

This is no longer the case. From the standpoint of ensuring any one state’s national survival, the usual goal of preventing a classical military defeat has generally become secondary. The consequential strategic implications of this transforming development are far-reaching, and worth examining.

 

After suppressing revolts in Egypt and Babylonia, Xerxes was finally able to prepare for the conquest of Greece. In 480 B.C.E., the Greeks decided to make their final defense at Thermopylae. This particular site was chosen because it offered what military commanders would call “good ground.” 

 

Here was a narrow pass between cliffs and the sea – a place where relatively small numbers of resolute troops could hold back a very large army. For a time, Leonidas, the Spartan king, was able to defend the pass with only about 7000 men (including some 300 Spartans).  But in the end, by August, Thermopylae had become the site of a great and memorable Persian victory.

 

For those countries currently in the cross hairs of a determined Jihad, and this includes the United States, Israel and much of Europe, there is no real need to worry about a contemporary Thermopylae. There is, however, considerable irony to any such  “freedom from worry.” After all, from our present vantage point, preventing any form of classical military defeat will no longer assure our safety from either aggression or terrorism. This means that we might now be perfectly capable of warding off any tangible defeat of our military forces, and perhaps even of winning more-or-less identifiable victories, but in the end we may still have to face extraordinary or even existential harms.

 

What does this mean for our enemies? From their point of view, it is no longer necessary to actually win any war, or – in fact – to win even a particular military engagement. They needn’t figure out complex land or naval warfare strategies; they don’t have to triumph at  “Thermopylae” in order to burn “Athens.”

 

 For our enemies, there is really no longer any reason to work out what armies call “force multipliers” or to calculate any pertinent “correlation of forces.”Today these enemies can wreak havoc upon us without first firing a shot.

 

None of this is because we have necessarily done something wrong. It is simply the natural product of constantly evolving military and terrorist technologies. Nor can this frightful evolution ever be stopped or reversed. On the contrary, our considerable current vulnerabilities in the absence of prior military defeat represent a resolute fact of strategic life that must be both acknowledged and countered.

 

To ensure that these vulnerabilities remain well below the existential threshold, we will soon have to build a new combat orthodoxy involving deterrence, preemption and war-fighting options, possibly together with bold new ideas for protective international alignments. We will also have to take a fresh look at viable arrangements for both active and passive defenses.

 

In the end, nothing is ever more practical than good theory. This is especially the case in military planning, where adapting current strategy and tactics to antiquated assumptions can yield disaster. Today, we must recognize that our always-fragile civilizations can be made to suffer enormously without first going down to thunderous defeat.  However much this may make us fearful or disconsolate, we will have to adjust accordingly.

 

 

LOUIS RENÉ BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is Professor of International Law at Purdue. Born in Zurich, Switzerland, on August 31, 1945, he lectures and publishes widely on nuclear strategy and nuclear war. In Israel, Dr. Beres was Chair of Project Daniel.  He is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

Empowering Weakness; Weakening Power: Hidden Meanings Of Israeli-Palestinian Relations

Thursday, July 15th, 2010

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.

The weak can sometimes prevail over the powerful. How can this be? The answer lies in the paradox of power in world politics. Although power is obviously powerful, and weakness is obviously weak, power can sometimes become weakness. At times, moreover, weakness can even become a source of power. Nowhere is this meaningful irony more apparent than in Israel’s persistent but essential struggle with Palestinian terrorism.

From the start, Palestinian Jihadists had already transformed their generally presumed weakness into effective power. Again and again, the “weak” Palestinians outmaneuvered the “powerful” Israelis. Just a few years ago, the UN’s International Court of Justice chose not to condemn the unhidden criminality of Palestinian terrorism, but, instead, condemned the security fence erected by Israel to safeguard its citizens from murderous terror attacks. Today, even after Israel’s Gaza Operation Cast Lead, and even while the Palestinian terrorists still rocket Israeli civilians from Gaza, world public opinion generally blames the Israelis for using “excessive force.”

From time immemorial, the Jews had remained stateless and defenseless. But in a number of important and intellectual spheres of human activity, they were always innovators and leaders. Now, today, when there does finally exist a sovereign Jewish State suitably empowered with modern weapons, and with advanced centers of science, learning and technology, the 6 million Jewish citizens of Israel comprise the most vulnerable Jews on the face of the earth.

It is an almost unutterable truth. Yet, virtually no one sees. The world, as usual, sees only what it wishes to see. What it wishes to see in the Middle East is suffering Palestinians, not existentially fragile Jews. The fact that this particular Arab suffering has been brought about directly by Palestinian terrorism, and not by any gratuitous Israeli resort to force, remains politically and diplomatically beside the point.

Hamas “perfidy,” the Islamic Resistance Movement’s insidious and illegal resort to human shields, has deliberately created Palestinian civilian casualties. Under authoritative international law, Hamas, not Israel,is therefore responsible for these harms. Still, the image of Palestinian weakness has plainly become a critical source of Palestinian terrorist power. Again, truth emerges through paradox.

The Arab world is comprised of 22 states, nearly five million square miles and more than 150,000,000 people. The overall Islamic world contains 44 states with well over one billion people. The Islamic states comprise an area 672 times the size of Israel. Israel, with a population of six million Jews (the number is terribly significant), is smaller than New Jersey, and less than half the size of Lake Michigan.

Power vs. weakness? The State of Israel, even together with Judea/Samaria (West Bank), is less than half the size of California’s San Bernardino County. Leaving aside that present-day Jordan comprises 78 per cent of the original British mandate for Palestine, and that it has long had a substantial Palestinian majority, the now fratricidal Palestinian Authority is being encouraged to declare a second Palestinian state on land torn from the more “powerful” body of Israel.

What would this terrorist victory suggest about power and weakness in the Middle East?

The Palestinians have consistently drawn tangible benefits from their alleged “weakness.” Will a Palestinian state enlarge Arab/Islamist power or will it produce a weakened condition? Perhaps, with a tiny Jewish State existing next to a tiny Palestinian state, there would develop a mutuality of weakness. But this would make no real sense, as power is always a relative notion.

Plato wrote imaginatively about the reality of ideas. In matters of national security, as in science, good ideas are always logically prior to good policy. Israel and the United States will soon need to fully appreciate the reciprocal ideas of power and weakness.

Israel must learn that the most advanced weapons of war, however necessary, do not by themselves create adequate strength. By nurturing misjudgments of power, they can even create weakness.

More often than we may admit, foreign policy making in Jerusalem and Washington displays an absence of true learning. Soon, both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Obama should come to understand that the core ingredients of power in world politics can be both subtle and intangible. Oddly enough, these ingredients may, on occasion, include weakness.

LOUIS RENÉ BERES, Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press, was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971). He publishes widely on international relations and international law. Born in Zurich, Switzerland, on August 31, 1945, Dr. Beres is the author of ten major books and several hundred articles in the field.

Human, All Too Human: To Survive, We Need To Look Behind The News

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

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.

The “story” I have presently in mind begins at the airport (any airport). There, each time I get on a plane, I am promptly struck by the profoundly ironic contradictions. As a species, it seems, we can take tons of heavy metal and shape them into vehicles of air travel. Yet, we must also take off our shoes and segregate our “liquids and gels” before being allowed to board. After all, we understand, some on board may always be trying to murder their fellow passengers.

What is wrong with us? Surely, the gap between technical intelligence and empathy is now more glaring than ever. Where precisely, have we humans gone wrong? This is not an academic question. It is the single most practical question that we must answer. Until we do, all proposed solutions to war, terror and genocide will be irremediably partial, limited and temporary.

Like it or not, we Americans are part of a much wider human family. This imperiled global community continues to reveal, without humiliation or embarrassment, the plainly delicate veneer of social coexistence. Recalling William Golding’s shipwrecked boys in Lord of the Flies, we must also admit that behind this veneer lurks a dreadful barbarism. Reading the latest world news, we must unhesitatingly acknowledge that an entire world could once again become “bloodless,” a global “skeleton.” We inhabit a badly-despoiled planet; we now face genuinely existential crises with nary a serious remedy in mind.

Why? How has an entire species, scarred and miscarried from the start, managed to scandalize even its own creation? Are we all the potential murderers of those who live beside us? Looking at history, we know that this is not a silly question.

Today, in all-too-many places, the human corpse remains a grotesque object of supremely high fashion. Soon, especially with spreading weapons of mass destruction, whole nations of corpses could become the rage. Following even a small nuclear war, cemeteries the size of entire cities would be needed to bury the dead. Before anything decent could be born into this post-apocalypse world, only a snarling gravedigger could wield the forceps.

Unremarkably, the silence of “good people” is vital to all that would madden and torment. Yet these good people, here and in other countries, normally remain quiet. To be sure, there will always be deeply impassioned reactions to the latest exterminations in Africa or Asia or Europe, but here, in America, amidst our indisputably “advanced civilization,” the audible sighs are never so bothersome as to interfere with lunch.

How much treasure, how much science, how much labor and planning, how many centuries have we humans ransacked to allow a seemingly unstoppable carnival of chemical, biological and nuclear harms? Frightened by the always irrepressible specter of personal death, and also by the sometimes desperate need to belong – to be an acceptable member of a state, a faith, a race, a tribe, often for the wrong reasons, at literally all costs (even at the cost of killing outsiders), how much longer can so many be permitted to project their own private terrors on to public world politics?

I don’t know the answer. I do know, however, that we cannot remain unmindful that these are the critically important questions before us. Finding answers to them will thus be indispensable to solving our more particular and insistent survival, security and economic problems.

French philosophers of the eighteenth-century Age of Reason wrote of a siècle des lumieres, a century of light, but the early twenty-first century is still mired in a bruising darkness. This can be changed, but only if we first learn the core difference in human affairs between cause and effect. To succeed, we must learn to base our national and international remedies on conquering the real “disease,” not just on mitigating symptoms.

It is nice to believe in progress, but usually history reveals only intermittently catastrophic patterns of decline.

In the end, all of the visible Earth is made of ashes, but even ashes can have very tangible meaning. Through the obscure depths of history, we should now struggle heroically to make out the phantoms of sunken ships of state and to learn more about the then-foreseeable disasters that had sent them down.

All too often, the barbarians are not found “outside the gates.” The destructive human inclination to reject compassion, to tolerate evil and to turn away from serious learning still lies latent within many, relentless; recalcitrant; heavy, and (above all) dangerous.

We humans build impressively complex machines to fly us through the air, but we must continuously fear that some among us will transform these marvelous vehicles into instruments of annihilation.

The ironic contradictions of the present age remain stark, and dense with implication. It is high time to look behind the news and figure them out.

LOUIS RENÉ BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), and publishes widely on international relations and international law. The author of ten major books on world affairs, he was born in Zurich, Switzerland, on August 31, 1945. Professor Beres is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

When The “Ceremony Of Innocence Is Drowned”: Israel’s Vulnerability To Worldwide Anarchy

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010
            William Butler Yeats, the great Irish poet, wrote prophetically of a time in which “the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned.” Here he revealed what still seems to elude historians, diplomats and scholars: In the not-too-distant future, there will come a moment in which there will be no safety in treaties or in armaments, no help from “civilization,” no counsel from public authority, and no rescue from science.

 

            This dreadful “moment” may rage a long while perhaps until every flower of human culture is trampled and until entire communities of humankind are leveled in a vast chaos. Ominously, from this resurrected medieval darkness, there will be neither escape nor sanctuary. It will envelop whole nations in a single, suffocating pall.

 

            Among the nations, none is more vulnerable to this impending time of raw power and planetary disorder than Israel. Less than half the size of a county in California, Israel – more than any other nation – will need to make unique provisions for its basic physical survival. 

 

             What, exactly, will worldwide anarchy mean for this nation? For Israel, the prime inheritor of Genesis, an expanding global chaos portends a very unusual and also ironic kind of fragility. The relentlessly beleaguered Jewish microstate, always the individual Jew in macrocosm, could become the principal victim of international anarchy. In view of the far-reaching interrelatedness of world politics, this is true even if the actual precipitating events of war and terror should occur elsewhere, far away from Israel itself.

 

            In a strange and paradoxical symmetry, global anarchy may reveal both sense and form.  Spawned by explosions of war and mega-terror, the disintegration of world authority will still have a discernible shape. How should this shape, this “geometry” of chaos, be deciphered and understood by Israel? It is a critical question.

 

            The world, like the individual countries that comprise it, is best understood as a system.  What happens in any one part of this system, therefore, always affects what happens in all of the other parts.  When global deterioration is marked, and begins to spread from one country to another, the effects can undermine international stability in general.  When deterioration is sudden and catastrophic, as it would be following the onset of unconventional war and/or unconventional terrorism, the unraveling effects would also be immediate and overwhelming. 

 

            The State of Israel, a system of interdependent and interpenetrating parts like every other state, exists precariously in our larger world system.  Aware that an incremental collapse of world authority structures will, in one way or another, impact its (few) friends as well as its (many) enemies, leaders of the Jewish State must now advance informed expectations of collapse (scientists would call these “plausible scenarios”) in order to prepare suitable forms of response.  And recognizing that rapid and far-reaching global collapse will spawn a more or less complete return to “everyone for himself” in world politics – what the seventeenth-century philosopher Thomas Hobbes called a “war of all against all” – Israel’s leaders must now consider exactly how they should respond to life in a global “state of nature.

 

             Such a consideration is all the more critical to the extent that the triggering mechanism of collapse could originate within the Middle East from massive chemical, biological (and, in the future, even nuclear) attacks against Israel.

 

            Chaotic disintegration of the world system, whether slow and incremental, or sudden and catastrophic, will dramatically impact the Israeli system.  In the clearest manifestation of this impact, Israel will have to orient its military planning and doctrine to a variety of worst-case possibilities, focusing much more on the whole range of self-help security options than on traditional forms of cooperative alliance guarantees. Within the imperiled country, any diplomatic processes still foolishly premised on outdated assumptions of reason and rationality will have to be curtailed in recognition of now fully obvious regional limits to “civilization.”   Israel continues to live in a very bad “neighborhood,” one in which any imprudent optimism in Jerusalem is certain to be severely punished.

 

            Israel’s judgments about U.S. President Obama’s “Road Map” will soon need to be made in consequence of anticipated world-system changes.  From the standpoint of Israel’s overall security, such a reorientation of planning, from anticipations of largely separate and unrelated threats to presumptions of interrelated dangers, would provide an essential framework for facing the uncertain future.  The origin of this framework would be a prior Israeli government willingness to extract pertinent policy implications from the emerging geometry of chaos.

 

             There is also an important  “feedback loop” here. Israel’s particular reactions, as a system within a system, to growing expressions of worldwide chaos, will themselves impact these expressions.  Should Israel’s leaders react to unstoppable anarchy by hardening their commitment to all relevant forms of self-reliance, including appropriate and lawful resorts to preemptive military force, Israel’s enemies would surely respond, individually or collectively, in similarly “self-reliant” ways. 

 

            What are these ways?  How, exactly, should Israel respond to such responses?  These are primary questions that should now be raised by Israel’s most capable strategic planners. It is now time for these planners to consider the crucial feedback implications of creation in reverse.

 

            By likening both the world as a whole, and their mini-state in particular, to the biological concept of “system,” Israel’s leadership could learn, before it is too late, that states “die” not only because of a direct, mortal blow, but also in reaction to a series of distinctly less than mortal blows.  This is because, after a time, even multiple “minor” insults to an organism can produce a breakdown of “immunities” that pave the way for life-endangering “pathogens.”  Taken by itself, any one such insult; e.g., a local infection, an injury, an impediment to vision or hearing or memory, will not cause death.  But, cumulatively, over time, these attacks can be fatal, either by affecting the organism’s overall will to live, or by making it possible for a “major insult” to take place without adequate defense.

 

            Taken by themselves, Israel’s intermittent and still-planned surrenders of land for nothing, its probable reluctance to accept certain indispensable preemption options, and its always-misdirected adherence to Washington-based “peace agreements” may not bring about national disappearance.  Taken together, however, these insults, occurring, as they do, within a broader worldwide pattern of escalating chaos, would have a decisively weakening effect on the whole Israeli “organism.”  Whether the principal injurious effect here would be one that impairs the Jewish State’s commitment to endure, or one that would actually open Israel to a devastating missile attack or calamitous act of terror, is presently unclear. 

 

            What is already clear is that Israel’s leaders must now ask plainly: What are the true sense and form of anarchy in the world system, and how should this discoverable geometry of chaos affect our own country’s national survival strategy?

 

LOUIS RENÉ BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) lectures and publishes widely on international relations and international law. In Israel, he has been involved with national security, military and intelligence matters for almost forty years. Professor Beres is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

The Waste Land: Israel And Iran After Nuclear War

Monday, May 17th, 2010

This is the dead land

This is cactus land….

T.S. Eliot

Credo quia absurdum. “I believe because it is absurd.” It is a term that I have used often here in my weekly column, but never more meaningfully than today. Now, years after the international community first blathered vainly about Iranian intentions, Tehran marches unhindered to full and final nuclear weapons status.

Credo quia absurdum. Perhaps, there will not be a nuclear war between Israel and Iran. Maybe, fortuitously, some system of stable mutual deterrence will evolve in time. Maybe, a kind of protracted “Cold War” will emerge to keep the peace.

Still, there is no reliable way to ascertain the probability of unique events, and an Iranian leadership that slouches enthusiastically toward apocalypse is not out of the question.

What would happen if Tehran were to launch a nuclear Jihad against Israel, whether as an atomic “bolt from the blue” or as a result of escalation – either deliberate or inadvertent?

Thirty-one years ago, I published the first of ten books that contained authoritative descriptions of the physical and medical consequences of nuclear war, any nuclear war. These descriptions were drawn largely from a 1975 report by the National Academy of Sciences, and included the following still valid outcomes: large temperature changes; contamination of food and water; disease epidemics in crops, domesticated animals, and humans due to ionizing radiation; shortening of growing seasons; irreversible injuries to aquatic species; widespread and long-term cancers due to inhalation of plutonium particles; radiation-induced abnormalities in persons in utero at the time of detonations; a vast growth in the number of skin cancers, and increasing genetic disease.

Overwhelming health problems would afflict the survivors of any Iranian nuclear attack upon Israel. These difficulties would extend beyond prompt burn injuries. Retinal burns would even occur in the eyes of persons very far from the actual explosions.

Tens of thousands of Israelis would be crushed by collapsing buildings and torn to shreds by flying glass. Others would fall victim to raging firestorms. Fallout injuries would include whole-body radiation injury, produced by penetrating, hard gamma radiations; superficial radiation burns produced by soft radiations; and injuries produced by deposits of radioactive substances within the body.

After an Iranian nuclear attack, even a “small” one, those few medical facilities that might still exist in Israel would be taxed beyond capacity. Water supplies would become unusable. Housing and shelter could be unavailable for hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of survivors. Transportation would break down to rudimentary levels. Food shortages would be critical and long-term.

Israel’s normally complex network of exchange systems would be shattered. Virtually everyone would be deprived of the most basic means of livelihood. Emergency police and fire services would be decimated. All systems dependent upon electrical power could stop functioning. Severe trauma would occasion widespread disorientation and psychiatric disorders for which there would be no therapeutic services.

Normal human society would cease. The pestilence of unrestrained murder and banditry could soon augment plague and epidemics. Many of the survivors would expect an increase in serious degenerative diseases. They would also expect premature death; impaired vision, and sterility. An increased incidence of leukemia and cancers of the lung, stomach, breast, ovary, uterus and cervix would be unavoidable.

Extensive fallout would upset many delicately balanced relationships in nature. Israelis who survive the nuclear attack would still have to deal with an increased insect populations. Like the locusts of biblical times, mushrooming insect hordes would spread from the radiation-damaged areas in which they arose.

Insects are generally more resistant to radiation than humans. This fact, coupled with the prevalence of unburied corpses, uncontrolled waste and untreated sewage, would generate tens of trillions of flies and mosquitoes. Breeding in the dead bodies, these insects would make it impossible to control typhus, malaria, dengue fever and encephalitis. Throughout Israel, tens or even hundreds of thousands of rotting human corpses would pose the largest health threat.

All of these same effects, possibly more expansive and destructive, would, reciprocally, be visited upon Iran by Israel. Immediate massive retaliation for any Iranian nuclear aggression would be inevitable. In Iran, therefore, survivors would envy the dead. Here, the once-expected joys of “martyrdom” would fade quickly before death’s other kingdom.

Waste and void. Darkness visible. No lilacs to breed out of the dead land, the cactus land. Before anything could be born in such an Iranian-created necropolis, a gravedigger would need to wield the forceps.

LOUIS RENÉ BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), and is Professor of International Law at Purdue. Born in Zurich, Switzerland on August 31, 1945, he is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

Physics And Politics In The Search For Middle East Peace

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010
            We all already understand that modern physics has witnessed revolutionary breakthroughs in the meanings of space and time. These stunning changes remain distant from the related worlds of diplomacy and international relations.  Ironically, however, much of the struggle between Israel and the Arabs is plainly about space. Not so obvious, but certainly just as important, is that this struggle is also about time.

 

             Time matters. To survive, Israel’s fight against war and terror must now be conducted with a more self-conscious and determined understanding of chronology.

 

            History also matters. The idea of felt time, of time-as-lived rather than clock time, has its origins in ancient Israel. Rejecting chronology as mere linear progression, the early Hebrews had approached time as a qualitative experience. Here, time was understood as something logically inseparable from its always personally infused content.

 

            The Jewish prophetic vision, which ultimately gave birth to Christianity, was one of a community existing under a transcendent God in time. To be sure, political space in this system was also important, but not because of territoriality. Instead, the significance of space – today we speak politically and strategically of land – stemmed only from the great and sacred events that had presumably taken place within its boundaries.

 

            For Israel, the space-time relationship now has two dimensions. First, any further territorial surrenders by Israel would reduce the amount of time Israel has left to resist war and terrorism.  Second, any such surrenders, especially considered together, would provide added time for Israel’s enemies to await a more perfect attack opportunity.

 

            For Israel, the strategic importance of time can be expressed not only by its relationship to space, but also by its undimmed role as a storehouse of memory. By recalling the persisting vulnerabilities of Jewish life in the world, Israel’s current leaders could start to step back from a seemingly endless sequence of surrenders.

 

             Time is power. “Yesterday,” says Samuel Beckett in his analysis of Proust, “is not a milestone that has been passed, but a day stone on the beaten track of the years, and irremediably a part of us, heavy and dangerous.”  

 

            The subjective metaphysics of time, a reality based not on equally numbered moments, but upon felt representations of time as lived, should influence the foreign policy by which Israel confronts its enemies. Israel must understand the different ways in which particular countries and terror groups live within time.  For example, if certain Jihadist terrorist groups now accept a very short time horizon in their search for a fiery end to Israel, the Israeli response to enemy aggressions would have to be correspondingly swift. This could even include appropriate preemptions, or what is known in law as expressions of anticipatory self-defense. If, however, it would seem that this apocalyptic time horizon is much longer, Israel’s policy response could then be more patient and less urgent.  Here, for security, Israel could possibly rely more upon the relatively passive dynamics of deterrence and defense.

 

            Of special interest to Israel should be the still-generally hidden time horizon of the Jihadist suicide bomber. Contrary to conventional wisdom, this adversary is afraid of death, so afraid, in fact, that he is willing to “kill” himself (or herself) as a means of overcoming individual mortality. Such an ironic strategy of conquering death offers terrorists a paradoxical way to “unstop time,” that is, to reorient chronology from personal extinction toward life everlasting.

 

            All this has serious implications for foreign policy and peace. Israel could now benefit from decoding a growing mindset that identifies “suicide” with eternal life.  Such an intellectual effort should focus upon a primary Islamist idea that time does not have a “stop.” Somehow, therefore, Israel must change the widespread enemy understanding that heroic “martyrdom” is the optimal way to soar above the mortal limits of profane time imposed by clocks.

 

             In Jerusalem, decision-makers must realize that the suicide bomber sees himself or herself as a religious sacrificer, escaping from time without meaning to time that is sacred. By abandoning the time of ordinary mortals – a chronology linked to personal death – the Arab/Islamist suicide bomber seeks to transport himself or herself into the always exclusive world of immortals. Based upon the “suicider’s” distinctive view of time, the temptation to sacrifice despised “infidels” at the altar of Jihad is understandably overwhelming.

 

            What should Israel do with this newly informed grasp of its enemies’ time-based mindset?  Israel’s immediate policy response must be to convince prospective suicide bombers that their intended “sacrifice” will never elevate them above the mortal limits of time. But for this to work, the assorted would-be sacrificers would first need to be convinced that:  (1) they are not now living in profane time; and (2) that every sacrificial killing of “infidels” is actually an authentic profanation of Islam.

 

             This sort of persuasion will not be easy. To begin, Prime Minister Netanyahu will first need to acknowledge the pertinent enemy perceptions of space and time as ones that are primarily religious and cultural in nature. Only then can Israel’s search for Middle East peace finally begin to make sense.

 

LOUIS RENÉ BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is author of many books and articles dealing with war, terrorism and international law. He was Chair of Project Daniel, which presented its then-confidential report on Israel’s Strategic Future to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon exactly seven years ago this past January. Professor Beres is Strategic and Military Affairs correspondent for The Jewish Press.

Still Taking Detours To Survival: Obama, Netanyahu And The Twisting “Road Map” To Genocide And War (Part III)

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010
            The State of Israel came into being on May 14, 1948.  The five Arab armies of Egypt, Syria, Trans Jordan, Lebanon and Iraq immediately invaded the new microstate.  Azzam Pasha, Secretary General of the Arab League, expressed their combined intention publicly:  “This will be a war of extermination and a momentous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades.” In terms of international law, the Arab League thus spoke from the beginning in unhidden support of genocide. This is hardly surprising, especially in view of their candid and warm personal cooperation with Hitler and the Axis against the Allies in World War II.

 

            Israel’s critics maintain that the 1967 War was one of Israeli aggression, rather than a war of Israeli self-defense.  Yet, on May 15, Israel’s Independence Day, Egyptian troops began moving into the Sinai, massing near the Israeli border.  By May 18, Syrian troops, too, were preparing for battle along the Golan Heights, 3000 feet above the Galilee, from where they had freely shelled Israel’s farms and villages for years.  Egypt’s Nasser ordered the U.N. Emergency Force (UNEF), stationed in the Sinai since 1956, to withdraw, whereupon the Voice of the Arabs proclaimed, on May 18, 1967:

 

                        As of today, there no longer exists an international emergency force to protect Israel.  We shall exercise patience no more.  We shall not complain any more to the UN about Israel.  The sole method we shall apply against Israel is total war, which will result in the extermination of Zionist existence.  [Emphasis ours]

 


            Two days later, an enthusiastic echo came from Hafez Assad, then Syria’s Defense Minister, who proclaimed: “Our forces are now entirely ready…to initiate the act of liberation itself, and to explode the Zionist presence in the Arab homeland…. The time has come to enter into a battle of annihilation.   President Abdur Rahman Aref of Iraq joined the voluptuous chorus of genocidal threats:  “The existence of Israel is an error which must be rectified.  This is our opportunity to wipe out the ignominy, which has been with us since 1948.  Our goal is clear – to wipe Israel off the map.” 

 

            …to wipe Israel off the map”? Does this sound familiar, today?

            On June 4, Iraq formally joined the military alliance with Egypt, Jordan and Syria. The Damascus regime’s commitment to military final solutions for Israel has been described by scholars Ahmed S. Khalidi and Hussein Agha as stemming from “…an apparently strong conviction that the struggle with Israel is no mere political or territorial dispute, but rather a clash of destinies affecting the fate and future of the Middle East.”  Syria’s approach to Israel, say Khalidi and Agha, remains “bound up with the view that force, whether active or passive, is the final arbiter of the conflict with Israel, and the ultimate guarantor of any settlement in the area.” 

 

            Was Israel the aggressor in 1967, as the Arabs and their supporters continue to maintain?  It hardly seems possible.  The jurisprudential correctness of Israel’s resort to anticipatory self-defense was well established in longstanding customary international law, in the “general principles of law recognized by civilized nations,” and in the “teachings of the highly-qualified publicists” (all authoritative sources identified at Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice).
            International law is not a suicide pact.  Israel could not have been expected to wait patiently for its own annihilation.  Indeed, when the Government of Golda Meir decided not to exercise the lawful option of anticipatory self-defense in October 1973, when Egypt and Syria were preparing to launch yet another war of genocidal aggression against the Jewish State, Israel almost paid for it with its own collective disappearance. 

 

            Although Israel eventually prevailed against the Arab aggressors, it did so at a staggering cost in human life. The Yom Kippur War produced 2326 deaths of Israeli soldiers, nearly ten thousand injuries, and hundreds of prisoners.  These costs to Israel were the direct results of A’man’s (Military Intelligence Branch) failure to predict the Arab attack, a failure still known in Israel’s intelligence community as the Mechdal, a Hebrew term meaning “omission,” “nonperformance” or “neglect.”

 

            The Arabs argue that Israel has no legitimate claim on Jerusalem.  Yet, Jerusalem has long been a Jewish city, and calling for an end to Israel’s sovereignty over an undivided Jerusalem is simply a call for an end to Israel.  Ironically, when, in 1947, the United Nations called for an international (U.N.-administered) city, it was not the Jews – but the Arabs – who refused. 

 

            When the Jordanian army seized the Old City during its war of aggression against Israel in 1948, it promptly desecrated all Jewish holy sites in the area, turned Jewish cemeteries and synagogues into urinals, and cruelly murdered all Jews who remained on the Jordanian side of the 1948 armistice line.  Of course, Jordanian control over East Jerusalem from 1949 – 1967 was flagrantly unacceptable under international law. This is the case from the standpoints of both the Arab kingdom’s illegal method of acquisition, and of its subsequently brutal methods of occupation.

 

             Do President Obama and Israel’s own Road Map supporters object to these earlier and egregious violations of international law by the Kingdom of Jordan?  If they do, they are doing it very quietly. To date, they certainly haven’t even mentioned them.

 

            The viscerally fashionable statement that “Jerusalem is holy to all three monotheistic religions” is now generally taken as prima facie true. Yet, for Muslims, even for those who regard the city as their own because of its presumed Canaanite origins, it is not Jerusalem, but the Saudi Arabian city of Mecca, that is religiously paramount.  It is Mecca, not Jerusalem, to which Muslims must pilgrimage at least once. 

 

            For Christians, Jerusalem contains some, but not all, of their holiest shrines.  For Jews, all main holy sites are within the post-1967 Jerusalem municipal borders, or in very close proximity.

 

            At prayer anywhere in the world, Jews face toward the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.  Muslims, even those praying on the Mount, face away from it, towards Mecca.  When they pray on the Mount, Muslims have their backs toward the Dome of the Rock, while those praying in the Al-Aqsa mosque also look away from Jerusalem, and toward Mecca. 

 

            In the Jewish Holy Scriptures, Jerusalem is mentioned 656 times. Jerusalem’s well-being is central to all Jewish prayer.  In the Koran, Jerusalem is never mentioned, not even once. With the brief exception of the Crusader period, no conqueror of Jerusalem made the city his capital.  Driven into exile by Nebuchadnezzar in 586 B.C.E., the Jews returned fifty years later, and rebuilt Jerusalem as their capital.  It was the capital of the Jews, yet again, under the Maccabees.

 

            The rights of both Jews and Christians were openly trampled on by the Muslim conquerors of Jerusalem.  Churches were made into mosques.  Slaughterhouses were deliberately established near Jewish places of worship.  Mosques were built next to churches and synagogues just so their minarets could literally “over tower” them.

 

LOUIS RENÉ BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) lectures and publishes widely on Israeli and US foreign and military policies. He is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

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