The multiple ironies are staggering. On December 15, 2008, just before mounting his indispensable and purposeful Gaza operation against Palestinian terrorism, Prime Minister Olmert had released 230 Palestinian terrorists. To be sure, these freed terrorists were supposedly Fatah, not Hamas, but Mr. Olmert's underlying strategic calculation was still unreasonable and wholly self-destructive.
Following the Boston Marathon bombing, one crucial point will likely remain overlooked. The most loathsome aspect of this or any other terror bombing attack on civilians will always lie in the inexpressibility of physical pain. While all decent people will abhor the idea of bombs expressly directed at the innocent, whether here or in other countries, none will ever be able to process the very deepest horrors of what has been inflicted.
For the most part, we Jews have always accepted the obligation to ward off disaster as best we can. For the most part, we generally understand that all humans have free will. Saadia Gaon included freedom of will among the most central teachings of Judaism, and Maimonides affirmed that all human beings must stand alone in the world “to know what is good and what is evil, with none to prevent him from either doing good or evil.”
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.
Project Daniel examined some of the precise ways in which a nuclear war might actually begin between Israel and its enemies.
President Obama has hitherto accepted the language of a "moderate" Palestinian Authority. The PA and its associates are distinctly obligated to refrain from incitement against Israel. Going back even to the legal antecedents of the current peace process, the Interim Agreement (Oslo 2) stated, at Article XXII, that Israel and the PA "shall seek to foster mutual understanding and tolerance and shall accordingly abstain from incitement, including hostile propaganda, against each other...." In the Note for the Record, which accompanied the Hebron Protocol of January 15,1997, the PA reaffirmed its commitment regarding "Preventing Incitement and Hostile Propaganda, as specified in Article XXII of the Interim Agreement." Substantially familiar if more general reaffirmations can readily be found in the Road Map.
Rationality, Irrationality, And Madness: Core Enemy Differences For Israeli Nuclear Deterrence (Third of Three...
What, then, might be most important to Israel's prospectively irrational enemies, potentially even more important than their own physical survival as a state? One possible answer is the avoidance of certain forms of shame and humiliation. Another would be avoidance of the potentially unendurable charge that they had somehow defiled their most sacred religious obligations. Still another would be leaders' preferred avoidance of their own violent deaths, deaths that could be attributable to Israeli strategies of targeted killing and/or regime-targeting.
How shall we truly understand what happened on the last day of March one year ago, when an Iraqi mob burned, desecrated and hanged four American contractors from a bridge in Fallujah?
We who care desperately for Israel and for the Jewish People don't need a propaganda film to make our case. A completely truthful account - as Spielberg has given us - will always be in our interest.
In the face of seemingly irrational threats from North Korea, at least one American conclusion should be obvious and prompt: Nuclear strategy is a "game" that sane world leaders must play, whether they like it, or not. President Obama can choose to play this complex game purposefully or inattentively. But, one way or another, he will have to play.
Under international law, Saddam Hussein is the quintessential Hostes Humani Generis, a "Common Enemy of Mankind." Prosecuting the former Iraqi dictator, therefore, would now appear to be a decidedly simple judicial matter.
In Israel, a core disagreement has emerged between Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya'alon and former Mossad Chief Meir Dagan.
Neither President Bush nor Senator Kerry addressed an absolutely key issue of current American foreign policy in the opening debate.
History takes no sharp corners. Despite obvious and very consequential current upheavals in the Middle East and North Africa - especially, of course, in Egypt - the core issues and principles of war and peace remain essentially unchanged. For Israel, this means keeping an ever-sharp focus on the still-underlying existential challenges. Although it is certainly correct that there will be constant, unexpected and distinctly palpable shifts in the prevailing hierarchy of particular threats, these shifts should always be understood within a much broader explanatory context of well-established strategic theory.
Following every suicide bombing in Iraq, one crucial point is always overlooked. This point is rooted in the confining space of each individual human body. It has to do with the general incommunicability of physical pain. No human language can ever really describe agony. In consequence, the monstrousness of terror-violence - never truly palpable - is generally reduced to an anesthetized inventory of "casualties."
Targeted Killing Of Terrorist Leaders: Israel’s Rights Of Assassination According To International Law
Now that Israel has eliminated Hamas terrorist masterminds Sheik Ahmed Yassin and pediatrician child killer Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi, Prime Minister Sharon may soon strike at certain other lead murderers who relentlessly plot suicide-bombings against Israelis.
The Land and People of Israel are now in great peril. Day after day, hour after hour - almost minute by minute - Jewish men, women and children are fiendishly murdered by Arab terrorists.
Once upon a time in America, every adult could recite at least some Spenglerian theory of decline.
It would be unreasonable for Israel to draw any comfort from an argument that Iranian intentions are effectively harmless. Rather, such intentions could impact capabilities decisively over time. Backed by appropriate nuclear weapons, preemption options must somehow remain open and viable to Israel, augmented, of course, by appropriate and complementary plans for cyber-defense and cyber-warfare.
International law is not a suicide pact. This particular sentence should be very familiar to this column's readers. Every state facing plainly existential harms always has the right to defend itself beforebeing attacked. In the increasingly urgent matter of Israel and Iran, a subject on which I have been commenting for some time, any further delay in undertaking permissible acts of preemption could irrevocably doom the Jewish state.
Today we think of Fallujah as the site of ongoing battles between courageous American forces and assorted enemy fighters. But back on the last day of March of this year, Fallujah was briefly known for the manifestly unheroic behavior of its Arab/Islamic combatants. Then it was the place where Islamic insurgents openly dramatized their long-cherished practice of desecrating the dead.
As I noted here last week, “the situation of survival is the central situation of power. Yet, as the ‘Middle East peace process’ makes Israel's survival more and more problematic, this enterprise now effectively deprives Israel of its power. Left to proceed, the process will eventually permit Israel's enemies to enjoy a triumph that still remains cleverly concealed, the conspicuous triumph experienced by certain still-living persons, when confronted by the powerless one who is dying.”
On January 16, 2003, the private Project Daniel Group first advised then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on the threat of Iranian nuclear weapons.
Our new president seemingly understands something of very great importance: The state of our union is intimately intertwined with the state of our world. Our fate as Americans will ultimately depend upon our willingness to identify more broadly and openly as citizens of the entire planet. Reciprocally, the fate of all others on earth will be impacted more or less by what happens next in American politics. But the final outcome of all such interdependence will be determined by what is ordinarily called "human nature."
"We are often asked," said the late Italian Jew and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi, in The Drowned and the Saved, "as if our past conferred a prophetic ability upon us, whether Auschwitz will return." However we might choose to answer such a terrible but unavoidable question, the Jewish past seems not to have conferred the most indispensable abilities to anticipate new and still-possible genocides.
Sometimes, pragmatism handily trumps belief. Back in the earliest days of Arab terrorism against Israel – going back to May 1948 and even earlier – many disparate groups were able to cooperate in a presumptively common war against the Jewish state.
As President Bush likely realized in his recent speech, the true state of our union is intimately intertwined with the state of our whole world. Our fate as Americans will depend upon our willing identification as citizens on an imperiled planet. Surely we now have the Iraq War to re-evaluate, but even so substantial and overwhelming a problem is just the tip of much larger iceberg. This "iceberg" is the always-universal nature of humankind.
In strategy and law, war, terrorism and genocide are not mutually exclusive. Now, following the “Arab Spring,” even as the usual suspects maintain their explicitly genocidal threats against Israel, certain “progressive” Jews proudly lead various rallies and publications for "peace” and “democracy” in the Middle East. Such “progress,” we might learn from Roman Polanski’s film “The Pianist,” could only be fashioned upon yet another generation of Jewish corpses.
My readers in The Jewish Press will already know that I write a great deal about Israeli nuclear issues. One of these inherently existential issues is the need for a coherent and codified Israeli nuclear doctrine. Moreover, this need was an integral part of Project Daniel - a private effort that reported to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon ("Israel's Strategic Future," January 2003) and was most immediately concerned with Iranian nuclear weapons and the associated prospect of nuclear war in the Middle East.
For Jews, free will must always be oriented toward life, to the blessing, not to the curse. Our binding charge is to strive in this obligatory direction of individual and collective self-preservation by using our intelligence and by exercising our essentially disciplined acts of will. In circumstances where such striving is consciously rejected, the outcome - however catastrophic - can never rise to the dignified level of tragedy.