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October 4, 2015 / 21 Tishri, 5776
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Posts Tagged ‘WMD’

In the Short Run, Biden Might Well Keep his Promise that Iran Won’t Get Nukes

Thursday, November 13th, 2014

{Originally posted at author’s website, Liberty Unyielding}

It’s not just the promise, of course.  It’s the Bidenesque way he makes it:

Monday, Biden had to remind Israeli leaders that the U.S. is not seeking a negotiation with Iran at Israel’s expense.

“I have heard so much malarkey about our position on Iran,” Biden said. “We will not let Iran acquire a nuclear weapon, period. I would not put my 42-year reputation on the line if I were not certain when I say it. We mean it.”

Daniel Greenfield casts a doubt or two on that 42-year reputation, and that’s fair enough.  We would be fools to take seriously such assurances from Joe Biden.

But there are reasons why Iran may well delay that moment of focused provocation when the radical Islamic regime proves itself nuclear armed.  If the Iranians don’t have the means to offer that proof yet, they are very close to it – so close that it is now their choice how fast to move, and in what way.

Where we are

Iran now lacks only the public demonstration of uranium enrichment to a weapons-grade level (above 95%), and a detectable warhead detonation.  To talk of a “breakout” capacity – a bomb-in-waiting – as something we are still looking for is now misleading.  Using such terms suggests that there is something more we need to see from Iran, before we officially set the breakout watch.

But the reality is that there is nothing we have yet to see that we can reliably expect to see.  We’ve reached the point at which it is prudent to assume the breakout watch has already started – and imprudent not to.

Fifteen years ago, Iran did not have a reliable uranium enrichment process; did not have an industrial-scale infrastructure for enrichment; did not have a stockpile of enriched uranium; did not have her own uranium production capacity; did not have a detonator mechanism for a uranium warhead; did not have a missile that could deliver a nuclear warhead; and did not have anything close to an intercontinental missile capability.

As little as six years ago, moreover, the United States had more than enough ready combat power, between our Air Force and Navy, to quickly strike a meaningful blow against an Iranian nuclear infrastructure that was still comparatively rudimentary and geographically concentrated.

Both of those conditions have changed significantly.  Iran now does have all the things she lacked in 1999: enough low-enriched uranium for at least 7-8 warheads; a proven enrichment process, including enrichment to higher purity (19.75%); an industrial-scale infrastructure, with geographic dispersion; an indigenous uranium production capacity (see here and here); a tested detonator mechanism for a nuclear warhead; at least one medium-range ballistic missile series that could deliver a nuclear warhead; and a satellite/rocket program advanced enough to support ICBM testing in as little as 1-3 years.  Iran has acquired almost all of these things since UN sanctions were implemented in 2007, and under the regime of IAEA inspections.

Reminder: Nothing has interrupted the trend of Iran’s uranium enrichment. Red column shows low-enriched UF6 stockpiled (versus total cumulative enrichment in blue), once Iran began enriching some stock to 20% in Jan 2012. Although Iran has “downblended” her 20%-enriched stock, the rate of increase in the total stockpile of 5% LEU has been robust: 17% from 11/13 to 11/14. (Data source: IAEA)

Reminder: Nothing has interrupted the trend of Iran’s uranium enrichment. Red column shows low-enriched UF6 stockpiled (versus total cumulative enrichment in blue), once Iran began enriching some stock to 20% in Jan 2012. Although Iran has “downblended” her 20%-enriched stock, the rate of increase in the total stockpile of 5% LEU has been robust: 17% from 11/13 to 11/14. (Data source: IAEA)

American military power, in the meantime, has declined to such an extent that mounting a quick, comprehensive strike on the Iranian infrastructure is no longer feasible.  We couldn’t do it quickly.  Not only could we not do it quickly; we couldn’t do it without first restoring the readiness of military units we no longer keep at their highest readiness level.  It would take months to prepare for a comprehensive strike campaign – and would require the prior allocation of special funding from Congress.

Where Iran once wanted to be

Iran’s vision for the future has been shaped, as everyone’s has, by the consequences of the Arab Spring.  It has also been shaped by the withdrawal of American power under Obama.

Four or five years ago, Iran took as a given the U.S. posture in the larger Middle East.  That posture included a key strategic presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan; close partnerships with almost all the Gulf Cooperation Council nations; special relationships, including military cooperation, with both Egypt and Israel; and unchallenged supremacy on the regional seas.

Iran’s basic objective was to peel America’s partners away through the pressure of proxy insurgencies (and other underhanded tactics), and thus squeeze us out of the region.  The first-order purpose of having the bomb was to immunize Iran against retaliation in that process, as the USSR had immunized itself with a nuclear “deterrent” force when it worked through proxy conflicts in the Cold War.

Iran also set her sights on chokepoints in the regional waterways, from the Strait of Hormuz through the Red Sea and all the way to Morocco and the Strait of Gibraltar.  No one was close to having a navy that could challenge the U.S. Navy, but even great navies are vulnerable in chokepoints.

At a kind of eschatological-strategic level, meanwhile, just as the Arab Spring was unfolding in early 2011, Iranian TV was running a mullah-approved “documentary” that outlined a scheme of military preparation for the arrival of the “twelfth imam.”  Mahmoud Ahmadinejad figured as a great military commander from Shia prophecy in this fantastical oeuvre, which depicted a dénouement in the armed conquest of Jerusalem.  (“Rescuing” Jerusalem had already figured for years in Iranian policy rhetoric, as well as in the concept of some major military exercises.)

Where Iran now wants to be

In the years since Obama took office, much has changed.  One thing hasn’t, and that’s Iran’s interest in gaining leverage at critical chokepoints in the regional seaways.  But some of the focused urgency has been bled out of the pressure campaign against America’s regional partners, in part because of the Arab Spring, and in part because Barack Obama has been doing an excellent job of peeling them away from us himself.

The momentum of Iran’s efforts has shifted to a new, more geographically focused vector, one that as recently as 2011 appeared to be unthinkable.  Where once Iran was confined to putting general pressure on various American partners in the region, and perhaps maneuvering to leapfrog nearby territory in which we seemed established – Iraq, Jordan, Israel – Iran can now realistically contemplate making an “internal” line of communication (LOC) through that territory.  She might accomplish that by proxy first, and then, eventually, exploit the LOC directly.

In fact, with much of the territory in question now disputed between ISIS and a weak Iraqi government, Iran has all the more reason for being there, with advisors and military equipment.

The bonus?  The U.S., weakened and compromised as our power is, has signed up to do at least some of the fighting against ISIS.  If Iran plays her cards right, American forces will open her strategic LOC through the heart of the Middle East for her.

UN Rejects Arab Anti-Israel Nuclear Resolution

Friday, September 20th, 2013

The UN’s 159 member nuclear assembly voted down an Arab League non-binding resolution that singled out Israel for its alleged nuclear arsenal and demanded that Israel sign the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT). There has been a recent attempt by the Arabs to use the focus on Syria’s use of chemical weapons as an excuse and an attempt to refocus the spotlight on Israel.

The resolution was voted down 51 countries to 43, the remaining countries abstained or were not present for the vote.

If it had passed, pressure would have been placed on Israel to sign the NPT and allow in IAEA inspectors.

Israel is not a signatory to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT) as has not openly acknowledged if it has nuclear weapons or not. It is believed that Israel has more than 80 nuclear bombs.

Iran, which is a signatory to the NPT, is actively seeking to obtain nuclear weapons, has tricked IAEA inspectors, and has repeatedly stated that Israel should be destroyed.

The resolution failed to pass due to the efforts of the Israeli foreign ministry, the Prime Minister’s office, and the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission. For many, this is proof positive that it is possible to actively fight the anti-Israel resolutions that regularly single out Israel for attack in the UN.



Israel Considering Preemptive Strikes Against Syria

Wednesday, June 13th, 2012

JERUSALEM – Israel’s Defense Minister Ehud Barak has ordered IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz to draw up plans for a possible series of preemptive strikes against various Scud missile installations and suspected WMD (weapons of mass destruction) sites across Syria, as the rebellion against President Bashar al-Assad’s dictatorship appears to be entering a dangerous phase.

According to Israel’s Channel 10 senior defense correspondent Alon Ben-David, the IDF has stepped up its aerial surveillance of key military bases across Syria, as various anti-government rebel militias have begun to overrun government facilities, including a major air force and missile base.

Both Israeli and American intelligence sources said that some of the rebel groups, associated with the al Qaeda terrorist network, entered Syria from neighboring Iraq. In a Channel 10 interview earlier this week, Barak confirmed that Israel is closely monitoring events on the ground in Syria and could be forced to take action if a variety of advanced conventional and unconventional weapons fall into the wrong hands.

Ben-David said that the IDF is preparing to deal with two possible scenarios: Should defecting or retreating Syrian government forces be detected transferring either advanced Scud missiles or chemical weapons to Hizbullah, which has been working alongside Assad’s forces, the IDF would attack specific targets to prevent the transfers. The IDF would also act against al Qaeda terror cells if they closed in on either a chemical weapons facility or missile base that could contain Scuds capable of reaching Israeli territory.

According to Yediot Aharonot, the UN and American intelligence communities have expressed concerns to the recognized leaders of the anti-Assad rebel coalition about the presence of al Qaeda in Syria. The White House and CIA have allegedly told Barak that it would be almost impossible for elite ground and air forces to find and destroy all of Assad’s WMD facilities, as they are spread out across dozens of locations throughout Syria.

Israeli media also reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Barak and Gantz, the IDF chief of staff, are trying to figure out ways to attack the aforementioned potential military and WMD targets without triggering a war with Syria and Hizbullah. The Israeli government and IDF have openly speculated that a cornered Assad and a desperate Iranian government (currently under severe economic sanctions) might be inclined to spark a war with Israel in order to temporarily prop up Assad or prevent a domino effect. Under the latter scenario the Sunni anti-Assad rebels would attack Iran’s Hizbullah-allied Shiite forces in retaliation for their direct involvement in the massacre of innocent Syrian civilians.

While Israeli and American intelligence officials are unable to predict how long Assad’s forces will be able to hold out against the widening rebellion, the better-trained Syrian army and Hizbullah militia are likely capable of fomenting a protracted civil war against the country’s Sunni majority – with or without Assad.

The deteriorating situation prompted Israel’s Homefront Command earlier this week to begin preparing for the mass evacuation of Israeli citizens from major population centers in Northern and Central Israel. In the event of a massive missile attack against cities like Haifa, Netanya and Tel Aviv, the Homefront Command would be expected to evacuate citizens to hotels, public buildings and tent cities in Eilat and the Jordan Valley for at least a week.

The Homefront Command, in order to prevent an immense disruption of vital services, is also working with the commercial sector on ways to properly protect key facilities such as electric power stations, oil and gas refineries, water companies and major food manufacturers.

Five Years After Project Daniel… Our Strategic Recommendations to Israel Remain Valid (Part VI)

Wednesday, September 24th, 2008

The views expressed in these six columns are those of Professor Louis René Beres, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other members of Project Daniel, or of any government.

Final Observations

Looking back over the original recommendations of Project Daniel, The Group concerned itself with, inter alia, the need for an expanded policy of preemption; an ongoing re-evaluation of “nuclear ambiguity”; recognizable preparations for appropriate “counter-value” reprisals in the case of certain WMD aggressions; adaptations to a “paradigm shift” away from classical patterns of warfare; expanded cooperation with the United States in the War Against Terror and in future inter-state conflicts in the Middle East; deployment of suitable active defense systems; avoidance of nuclear war-fighting wherever possible; and various ways to improve Israel’s nuclear deterrence.

Along the way, we had also explored vital differences between rational and non-rational adversaries; changing definitions of existential harms; legal elements of “anticipatory self-defense”; possibilities for peaceful dispute settlements in the region; budgetary constraints and opportunities; maintaining Israel’s qualitative edge; preparations for “regime targeting” and implications for Israel of the growing anarchy in world affairs.

Originally, we wrote that Israel’s strategic future must be understood as a work in progress. In this regard, absolutely nothing has changed. The geo-strategic context within which Israel must still fashion its future is continually evolving, and so, accordingly, must Israel’s strategic doctrine. Ultimately it must be from precisely such doctrine that the Jewish State’s particular policies will have to be abstracted, derived, adjusted and implemented.

Since the presentation of our original document to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on January 16, 2003, there have been a few minor “victories” in the effort to control WMD proliferation among Israel’s enemies. A case in point may be Libya. At the same time, the circumstances in North Korea (which has manifest ties to some of Israel’s regional enemies), Iran and Pakistan remain highly volatile and dangerous. There is also still evidence of expanding WMD ambitions in Egypt and (less so, after Israel’s September 2007 raid) Syria.

At the level of terrorist groups, which are sustained by several Arab/Islamic states, new alignments are being fashioned between various Palestinian factions and al-Qaeda. The precise configurations of these alignments are complex and multifaceted, but the net effect for Israel – and therefore also for the United States – is unmistakably negative.

Israel’s Strategic Future was founded on the presumption that current threats of war, terrorism and genocide derive from a very clear “clash of civilizations,” and not merely from narrow geo-strategic differences. Today, five years after completion of our report, both Israel and the United States remain in the cross hairs of a worldwide Arab/Islamist “Jihad” that is basically cultural/theological in nature, and that will not concede an inch to conventional norms of “coexistence” or “peaceful settlement.” This situation of ongoing danger to “unbelievers” is hardly a pleasing one for Jerusalem and Washington, but it is one that must now be acknowledged forthrightly and dealt with intelligently. This means that it must be embedded in any serious theories of strategic survival.

In constructing workable strategies, Israel’s thinkers and planners must keep in mind that nothing will be more practical than good theory. In all complex strategy matters, theory is a net. Only those who cast will catch.

The ongoing war in Iraq has demonstrated the evident weaknesses of US strategic theory, and also of US national intelligence agencies. Israel, too, is not without a history of serious intelligence failure (to wit, Israeli problems in the 2006 Lebanon war), and Israel’s strategic future will require a substantially enhanced intelligence infrastructure together with certain highly refined “backup systems.” Facing still-growing isolation in the “international community,” it will also have to fend for itself more than ever before. In the end, Israel’s survival will depend largely upon plans and postures of its own making.

As my readers in The Jewish Press are well aware, Israel’s strategic future is still fraught with existential risk and danger. It is essential, therefore, that Israel still approach this uncertain future with utter realism and candor. A nuclear war against the Jewish State would likely be undertaken as a distinct form of genocide. There can, therefore, still be no greater obligation for Israel than avert any such new crimes against humanity.

Copyright © The Jewish Press, September 26, 2008. All rights reserved


LOUIS RENÉ BERES, chair of Project Daniel, is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

Five Years After Project Daniel… Our Strategic Recommendations to Israel Remain Valid (Part IV)

Wednesday, September 10th, 2008
The views expressed in these six columns are those of Professor Louis René Beres, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other members of Project Daniel, or of any government.


Israel’s Survival Amidst Growing Worldwide Anarchy


In our age of Total War, Israel must always remain fully aware of those harms that would threaten its very continuance as a state.  Although the Jewish State has always recognized an overriding obligation to seek peace through negotiation and diplomacy wherever possible, there are times when its commitment to peaceful settlement will not be reciprocated. Moreover, as noted by Project Daniel, there are times when the idea of an existential threat may reasonably apply to a particular level of harms that falls well below the threshold of complete national annihilation.


Examining pertinent possibilities, The Project Daniel Group noted three distinct but interrelated existential threats to Israel:


1. Biological/Nuclear (BN) threats from states;
2. BN threats from terror organizations; and
3. BN threats from combined efforts of states and terror organizations.


To the extent that certain Arab states and Iran are now allowed to develop WMD capabilities, Israel may have to deal someday with an anonymous attack scenario. Here the aggressor enemy state would not identify itself, and Israeli post-attack identification would be exceedingly difficult. What is Israel to do in such a confused and urgent crisis situation?


The Group recommended to the former prime minister that “Israel must identify explicitly and early on that all enemy Arab states and Iran are subject to massive Israeli reprisal in the event of a BN attack upon Israel.” We recommended further that “massive” reprisals be targeted at between 10 and 20 large enemy cities (“counter-value” targeting) and that the nuclear yields of such Israeli reprisals be in very high range. Such deterrent threats by Israel would be very compelling to all rational enemies, but − at the same time − would likely have little or no effect upon irrational ones. In the case of irrational adversaries, Israel’s only hope for safety will likely lie in appropriate and operationally feasible acts of preemption.


A policy of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD), which once obtained between the United States and the Soviet Union, would never work between Israel and its Arab/Iranian enemies. Rather, the Project Daniel Group recommended that Israel MUST prevent its enemies from acquiring BN status, and that any notion of BN “parity” between Israel and its enemies would be intolerable. Accordingly, The Group advised the Prime Minister: “Israel immediately adopt − as highest priority − a policy of preemption with respect to enemy existential threats.” Such a policy would be based upon the more limited definition of “existential” described above, and would also enhance Israel’s overall deterrence posture.


Recognizing the close partnership and overlapping interests between Israel and the United States, the Project Daniel Group strongly supported the American War Against Terror (WAT). In this connection, we had urged full cooperation and mutuality between Jerusalem and Washington regarding communication of intentions. If for any reason the United States should decide against exercising preemption options against certain developing weapons of mass destruction, Israel must reserve for itself the unhindered prerogative to undertake its own preemption options.


Significantly, in view of U.S. inaction since 2003 on the Iran front, and also in direct consequence of the U.S. National Intelligence Estimate on Iranian nuclearization, it now looks very much like this particular prerogative may have to be exercised. It should go without saying, simply from the standpoint of comparative force size alone, that the United States Air Force would have been far preferable to the Israel Air Force in undertaking any essential acts of anticipatory self-defense against Iranian nuclear assets and infrastructures. To be sure, the IAF is exceptionally capable, but it is also very small.


The Group began its initial deliberations with the following urgent metaphor in mind: Israel could face the hazard of a suicide-bomber in macrocosm. In this scenario, an enemy Arab state or Iran would act against Israel without any ordinary regard for expected retaliatory consequences. Here, in the fashion of an individual suicide bomber who acts without fear of personal consequences − indeed, who actually welcomes the most extreme personal consequence, which is death − an enemy Arab state and/or Iran could launch WMD attacks against Israel with full knowledge and expectation of overwhelming Israeli reprisals. The conclusion to be drawn from this scenario is that Israeli deterrence vis-à-vis “suicide states” would have been immobilized by enemy irrationality and that Israel’s only recourse in such circumstances would have been appropriate forms of preemption.


Israel’s Preemption and Nuclear War-fighting Doctrine


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 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 might 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 Prime Minister Sharon 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 still not 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 distinctly 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.


Copyright  ©, The Jewish Press, September 12, 2008. All rights reserved.


LOUIS RENÉ BERES, Chair of Project Daniel, is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press.

Perfidy And The Growing Threat Of Mega-Terror Against Israel

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

I will do such things –
What they are yet I know not –
But they shall be the terrors of the earth.
Shakespeare, KING LEAR

Concluded in mid-September, the sixth annual International Conference on Global Terrorism in Herzliya, Israel, underscored the growing threat of mega-terror. To a large extent, this existential threat to Israel is made worse by the always-deliberate insertion of terrorist personnel and assets in the midst of civilian populations. Known to general public as “human shields,” this practice is also explicitly identified and criminalized under international law as “perfidy.”

Terrorism is itself a codified crime under international law. It follows that perfidious deception by Islamic terrorists adds a distinctly second layer of illegality to the first. After all, the Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah and Hizbullah insurgencies are illegal in themselves.

As I have indicated to my readers in previous columns, certain forms of deception are permitted to states, under the laws of war, but the use of human shields is always illegal to all combatants. During the recent Lebanon war, Hizbullah – assisted by Syria and Iran – intentionally placed most of its arms and fighters squarely in the areas of Arab civilian populations. In the future, perfidious violations of the laws of war by any of the ongoing regional insurgencies could involve the placement of chemical, biological or even nuclear weapons and infrastructures in various Islamic towns and cities, giving rise to very dramatic escalations of violence. To be sure, such prohibited placement is already well underway in Iran with respect to all three categories of planned mega-terror.

Sooner or later, certain of Israel’s Islamic enemies, under cover of perfidy (the United Nations, after all, recently chose to condemn Israeli self-defense, not Hizbullah war crimes) will begin to magnify their terror operations. Inevitably, as was pointed out at the recent Institute for Counter-Terrorism conference in Herzliya, these enemies will strive to exploit more fully the methods of WMD terror-violence. Presently, at least, there is little to suggest that they won’t succeed.

There are, says Albert Camus, “crimes of passion and crimes of logic.” But the precise boundary between these crimes is often unclear, vague, porous and not easily defined. Understood in terms of the ever-expanding mega-terrorist threat to Israel, the pertinent crimes display both passion and logic. While the level of passion has certainly increased, there has been no corresponding diminution of logic. On the contrary, the constantly growing terrorist passion – some would call it a heightened and murderous religious fervor – has been congruent with tactical logic. This passion has been enhancing Israeli fears and (until now) hastening Israeli territorial capitulations.

Over time, the terrorist slaughterers will decide that they must do “more” in order to achieve their goals. Here, logic will spawn new passions, which, in turn, will reinforce logic. Combining careful cost-benefit calculations with virulent Islamic religious frenzy, the terrorists will reason that “ordinary” suicide bombings have become old-fashioned and that maintaining “adequate” Israeli fear (the sort of fear that would impel more territorial surrenders) calls for new and substantially higher forms of destructiveness. Unless Israeli authorities have anticipated such escalations of violence (clearly, they have) AND are prepared to dominate the resultant escalatory process (this, however, is somewhat less clear), the number of new Israeli victims could become inconceivably large.

Significantly, the danger of unconventional terrorism could become great even in the absence of logic. Indeed, this danger might even be greater if terrorist enemies and their allies become more and more oriented to crimes of passion. Animated only by the call of jihad and operating far beyond the rules of rationality in weighing decisional alternatives, the terrorists might then opt for chemical, biological or even nuclear destruction – and apart from any considered calculations of geopolitical advantage. Here, violence would be celebrated for its own sake – for the sheer voluptuous joy of murdering and dismembering Jews – and a numbing Islamic irrationality would immobilize all Israeli hopes for terrorist restraint. As for compelling Israeli deterrence of terrorist attack, it would become fruitless by definition.

The “blood-dimmed tide is loosed,” says the poet Yeats, “and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned.” From the start, all anti-Israel terrorists, especially Fatah, have accepted the idea of violence as purposeful, because of its “healing” effect upon the perpetrator. Galvanized by what they have long described as a “battle of vengeance,” these terrorists have seen in their attacks not merely the obvious logic of influencing the victims, but also the Fanonian logic of “purifying” the perpetrators.

“Violence,” says Franz Fanon in The Wretched of the Earth, “is a purifying force. It frees the native from his inferiority complex and from despair and inaction. It makes him fearless and restores his self-respect.” This idea has long been at the heart of Fatah doctrine, and is now very much in fashion among all other Palestinian and Hizbullah insurgents. An early Fatah pamphlet, The Revolution and Violence, the Road to Victory, informed the reader that slaughter serves not only to eliminate the opposition but also to transform the “revolutionary.” It is, says the pamphlet, “a healing medicine for all our people’s diseases.” How much more healing, we must ask, and how much better for the terrorist’s self-respect, if rockets and bombs kill thousands or even tens of thousands of Israelis rather than “mere” dozens? Let us recall, if there are any doubts, the huge crowds of Palestinians cheering on rooftops during Saddam’s 1991 Scud attacks on Tel Aviv and Haifa. Their cheers openly urged the Iraqi mass killing of Israeli civilians.

Terror has an appreciable impact beyond incidence. It also has a distinct quality, a potentially decisive combination of venue and lethality that cannot be ignored and that must be countered. Linked to a particular species of fear, this quality of terror must represent an absolutely crucial variable in any society’s war against terrorism. Reciprocally, it must elicit an appropriate quality of counter-terrorism.

Let us imagine, in this connection, the qualitative difference, for Israel, between bus or market suicide-bombings and the murder of masses of Tel Avivians or Jerusalemites, either by “small” nuclear explosions or by radiological contamination. The difference would be considerable. Although it is certainly possible that a terrorist resort to such higher-order destruction would prove to be counter-productive, this does not necessarily suggest a corresponding terrorist reluctance to undertake such an escalation. After all, if they are “logical” the terrorists might not foresee such counter-productiveness and if they are “passionate” they might not care.

Writing about that species of fear that arises from tragedy, Aristotle emphasized that such fear “demands a person who suffers undeservedly” and that it must be felt by “one of ourselves.” This fear, or terror, has little or nothing to do with our private concern for an impending misfortune to others, but rather from our perceived resemblance to the victim. We feel terror on our own behalf; we fear that we may become the objects of commiseration. Terror, in short, is fear referred back to us. Naturally, therefore, the quality of this terror is at its highest point when this fear is especially acute and where suffering acutely is especially likely. And what could possibly create more acute fear of probable victimization for Israel than the threat of chemical, biological or nuclear terrorism?

Israel, of course, must take immediate heed. Facing certain terrible crimes of logic, it can communicate to its terrorist foes that Jerusalem is prepared to dominate escalation, and that terrorist excursions into higher-order destructiveness would elicit anything but capitulation. Facing certain terrible crimes of passion, it can only confront the enemy in advance. Insofar as an increasingly impassioned enemy armed with unconventional weapons might not be susceptible to deterrent threats, the only reasonable course would lie in some greatly-expanded forms of preemption. Although this seems obvious enough, it is, presently, implausible that Israeli officials would authorize such wider efforts at anticipatory self-defense.

“In a dark time,” says the poet Theodore Roethke, “the eye begins to see.” Now, with a rapidly expanding darkness all over the region, Israel must finally acknowledge that it is in a relentless war against enemies who will fight without any civilized regard for limits or boundaries. It is absolutely imperative for us all that Israel be permitted to win this war.

Copyright: The Jewish Press, November 10, 2006. All rights reserved.

LOUIS RENE BERES was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and is the author of many books and articles dealing with WMD forms of terrorism, including nuclear terrorism. He has previously worked and lectured on these problems for the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Defense Nuclear Agency (Pentagon), JFK Special Warfare Center (DOD) and the Nuclear Control Institute. Professor Beres’ work is also well known in Israeli military and intelligence communities. He is Chair of Project Daniel and is Strategic and Military Affairs correspondent for The Jewish Press.

The Social Impact Of Terrorism: A Human-Centered Perspective

Wednesday, November 17th, 2004

What is the social impact of terrorism?

As scholars, we like to approach issues of Homeland Security analytically. Analytically, of course, the social impact of terrorism is contingent upon a number of factors, especially:

1. The nature of weaponry involved (WMD terrorism vs. conventional terrorism);

2. The degree to which vulnerability is generally felt;

3. The actual vulnerability of people, structures, and institutions;

4. The extent of area affected (limited/localized attacks would likely elicit more efficient governmental response and recovery);

5. The capacity of society and government to react and recover (itself contingent upon many other factors); and

6. The actual and expected duration of terror.

But, candidly, we don’t have to get too analytical to understand that the social impact of terrorism is normally captured far better by poets than by the physicists or political scientists.

We may recall with benefit a famous poem by W.B. Yeats, with its grievously prophetic imagery of horror: “The blood dimmed tide is loosed/and everywhere the Ceremony of Innocence is drowned.”

Like Yeats, Bertolt Brecht was also right on the mark. Says Brecht:

“Truly I live in dark times… The man who laughs has simply not yet heard the terrible news.”

We, here in this Purdue University assembly this afternoon, HAVE heard the terrible news. We KNOW, with little hesitation, that mega-terror is already on the way, and that there is little that can be done to prevent it altogether. Whether it be a form of bio-terrorism and/or a “dirty bomb,” our enemies are dedicated to enlarging the “blood- dimmed tide,” and their capacities to carry this out are undeniably considerable.

Here in Indiana, at the Newport facility, there is enough stored VX nerve agent to literally kill or injure a staggering number of people (some scientists even speak of millions of possible casualties). How shall we extrapolate from such unimaginable levels of lethality to questions of “social impact?”

We seek answers to precisely this question this afternoon. We who are in the Homeland Security field must continue to look for viable remedies. We have no other choice.

As someone who has worked closely for almost a quarter-century with Israeli and American intelligence communities, I know that there ARE ways to deal with even the most barbarous forms of terrorism. But these ways have various unpalatable qualities, and are difficult at times to reconcile with democratic principles and the laws of war. Moreover, as we now face instances of WMD terror, the prospective costs of terrorism are so overwhelming that distasteful trade offs between individual liberties and public safety could become irresistible and altogether necessary.

For a brief look at the true human meaning of terrorism, we have distributed copies of an Op Ed piece that I wrote especially for The Jewish Press with Chicago-area radiologist Dr. Michael Messing. Please read it closely. For another, consider these comments from a physician friend of mine in Israel, Dr. Moshe Rosenblatt (a general surgeon) about one of his many encounters with the victims of suicide- bombing terrorism. These comments were written a few years ago, after one of many Palestinian terror attacks upon Israeli women and children:

“Dear Lou,

‘The terrorist attack took place at the other end of my street, some 800 meters from my building. I’ve been many times in this wedding hall, so I could easily have been one of the people there. I would be dead now, and/or my wife and children…. ‘Despite the fact that I’m the director of a surgical outpatient clinic, on these events I naturally always go to Hadera’s hospital to help my colleagues. That’s what I did today. I ran to the operating room where I entered into an almost heroic operation to save the life of a middle-aged woman. One of the terrorist bullets had ruptured her liver, stomach, bowels and major vessels. We couldn’t stop the bleeding. So we opened her chest to cross- clamp the aorta, while undertaking direct heart massage. All in vain. She died of massive hemorrhage; blood and feces were strewn everywhere.

‘I then changed my surgical clothes and entered another operating room to begin another operation. This time the patient was a young guy with an abdomen full of shrapnel. We had to resect the lower part of his ruptured large bowel, but ? at the end of the operation ? he was still bleeding profusely through his wounded hip. I left the room while the orthopedic surgeons began to operate on his right hip. I’m sure that he will also die.

‘Many other patients were treated by other surgeons. My surgical dress was covered in blood. I took a shower and here I am, at 4:00 in the morning, writing to you, my dear friend in Indiana. I just can’t sleep now. Although very tired, I’m too distraught because after all these years of seeing blood and death on my hands, I never quite get used to it.”

So here is what lies behind the news reports of terror; behind the sanitized statistics; behind the anesthetized and hermetically-sealed calculations of the scholars.

This report concerns a very “limited” instance of terrorism, at least relative to what we now face in both Israel and the United States. And this report is from a hardened battlefield surgeon. My friend Dr. Moshe Rosenblatt has stitched up countless torn bodies in three major wars.

(To be continued)

Copyright (c) The Jewish Press, 2004. All rights reserved.

LOUIS RENE BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is the author of ten major books and several hundred articles dealing with terrorism, war and international law. He has worked for over a quarter-century with American and Israeli counter-terrorism communities, and is current Chair of “Project Daniel,” advising Israel’s Prime Minister on nuclear security issues. His columns have appeared in such newspapers as “The New York Times”; “The Washington Post”; “USA Today”; “The Chicago Tribune”; “The Indianapolis Star”; “Haaretz” and “The Jerusalem Post.” Professor Beres is Strategic and Military Affairs columnist for The Jewish Press in New York City.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/the-social-impact-of-terrorism-a-human-centered-perspective/2004/11/17/

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