Archive for the ‘Israeli nukes’ category

Hizballah lists targeted Israeli “nuclear sites”

March 4, 2017

Hizballah lists targeted Israeli “nuclear sites”, DEBKAfile, March 3, 2017

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Our military and counterterrorism sources draw a straight line from Hizballah’s latest stance and the newfound aggressiveness displayed this week by the Palestinian extremist Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip.

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Hizballah’s latest round of threats against Israel reached a new peak Thursday, March 2, with the release of a videotape claiming to expose nine locations allegedly tied to the production and assembly of Israel’s nuclear weapons, DEBKAfile reports. The Lebanese Shiite terror organization said it possessed precise missiles for wiping out Israel’s nuclear infrastructure and attached addresses to all its targets.

Five locations topped the list, starting with the nuclear reactors at Dimona in southern Israel and Nahal Soreq on the Mediterranean coast. “Revealed” next are three secret locations for the production, assembly and storage of nuclear missiles and warheads. Kfar Zacharia near Beit Shemesh in the Jerusalem Hills, defined as the main depot for the Jericho Series I, II and III, of three-stage ballistic missiles, which can reach ranges of up to 6,000 km.

Two others were a factory in Beer Yaakov near the central Israeli town of Ramleh, the alleged production site for nuclear warheads; and the “Galilee Wing-20” plant at the Tefen Industrial Park, 17km from the town of Carmiel, a facility where the Rafael Advanced Defense System Authority was said to mount nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles and prepare them for launching.

The video stresses that Hizballah now possesses precise missiles able to pinpoint and destroy every single facility.

Just two weeks ago, Nasrallah “advised” Israel in an aggressive speech, to dismantle its large ammonia tank in Haifa and the nuclear reactor in Dimona before they were hit by Hizballah rockets and caused massive casualties. He and his associates have repeatedly warned in recent weeks that their Lebanese terrorist group has acquired weapons capable of deterring Israel as well as the capability to catch Israeli intelligence unawares by “surprises.”

In previous articles, DEBKAfile accounted for the heightened bellicosity of Hizballah’s leaders by the permission Bashar Assad recently granted Hizballah to launch missiles against Israel from Syrian soil as well as from Lebanon.

Our military and counterterrorism sources draw a straight line from Hizballah’s latest stance and the newfound aggressiveness displayed this week by the Palestinian extremist Hamas which rules the Gaza Strip.

Thursday, March 2, Hamas spokesmen stated that the group would no longer exercise restraint in responding to the heavy Israeli air and artillery strikes that are conducted in retaliation for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. Henceforth, it would conduct a policy of “military position for military position” – meaning that for every Hamas position destroyed by Israel, the Palestinian extremists would swipe at a comparable Israeli military site.

The new Hamas posture challenged Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman”s strategy of holding the Hamas government of Gaza responsible for any attacks coming from the Palestinian enclave – whether the work of Hamas or the extremist Salafis running loose there.

On Feb. 27, the Israeli Air Force smashed five Hamas targets in the northern, central and southern regions of the enclave after a rocket from Gaza exploded in Israel. The IDF did not respond to the rocket fired subsequently at the Hof Ashkelon region. But then, after a round of fire from Gaza to shoot up IDF military engineering equipment, the IDF knocked over two small Hamas look-out positions in the north.

Hamas had in fact given the defense minister an ultimatum:  either exercise restraint, or continue the policy of massive retaliations for every rocket coming from the Gaza Strip – at the risk of a fresh round of fighting with Hamas. Lieberman appears to have settled for the first option for the time being.

Satire | Make Trump Shut Up. It’s Patriotic!

March 18, 2016

Make Trump Shut Up. It’s Patriotic! Dan Miller’s Blog, March 18, 2016

(The views expressed in this article (aside from those espoused by my imaginary guest author, with whom no rational person agrees) are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Warsclerotic or its other editors. — DM)

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Editor’s note: This is a guest post by my (imaginary) guest author, the Very Honorable Ima Librul, Senator from the great State of Confusion Utopia. He is a founding member of Climate Change Causes Everything Bad, a charter member of President Obama’s Go For it Team, a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Chairman of the Meretricious Relations Subcommittee. He is also justly proud of his expertise in the care and breeding of green unicorns, for which his Save the Unicorns Foundation has received substantial Federal grants. We are honored to have a post of this caliber by a quintessential Librul such as the Senator. Without further delay, here is the Senator’s article, followed by my own observations. 

As any fool knows, saying things that upset folks is destructive to our peace and tranquility. No patriot would do that. As the Boston Globe observed on March 17th, true patriots can not and should not permit it.

Donald Trump slams protesters at his rallies as “thugs” but, as usual, the unhinged GOP presidential front-runner is dead wrong:

They’re patriots.

. . . .

With Trump nearly sweeping this week’s primaries, those rallies will become more hostile toward anyone pushing against his hideous rhetoric. Yet those patriots will still come, not just because they oppose Trump but for the love of their country which is being shoved toward the abyss. As poet Adrienne Rich wrote in “An Atlas of the Difficult World”:

A patriot is one who wrestles/ for the soul of her country/ as she wrestles for her own being.

Trump has been endorsed by Will Quigg, 48, a grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan. So has Hillary Clinton, but that’s as different as night is from day; we all know that she is not a racist. The KKK endorsement of Trump shows, beyond dispute, that he is a vile racist. That’s why he despises our President and everything for which we stand.

Trump reminds me of the hateful Britainophobes who mocked Native Americans by wearing their quaint native garb to throw precious tea, violently, into Boston Harbor. For shame!

Trump hatefully complains that Islam is not the religion of peace and that since it is a violent religion Muslims should not be permitted even to visit the United States until it can be determined which are peaceful and which are not. Hogwash! Muslims are just as peaceful as Methodists. They love little children more than Methodists, particularly little girls, and marry them at what Trump probably thinks is too early an age — often at the age of ten. It’s their culture, so there’s nothing wrong with it and we should respect it. Isn’t this a pretty little bride? She looks so happy!

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Muslims don’t occupy a country that isn’t theirs like filthy Jews do in Palestine. They don’t try to take over mosques sacred to Islam.

 

 

Palestine, unlike Israel, does not practice apartheid. Although Israel has nukes, Iran recently promised not to develop nuclear weapons. Trump, despite his claims to be a master negotiator, would never have got that deal; Obama, a very modest person, did despite obstructions put in his path by Israel and some Republicans.

Not all Jews are bad, of course: a major Jewish group warned that Trump is dangerous. As noted in the immediately linked article, the warning

came amid an impassioned debate in the American Jewish community around Trump’s plans to address an audience of over 18,000 next Monday at the American Israel Public Affairs Committee’s annual policy conference.

Who knows what might happen if Trump were to address that group. Might he claim, as he often does, that the peaceful Palestinians, not Jews, are to blame for Israel’s continued occupation of Palestine? Perhaps some of his antisemitic bullies might assault members of the audience. They might bring not only knives but guns as well! Remember, President Obama warned against bringing even knives to a gun fight!

Trump complains that our borders are not “secure.” He is stupid, ignorant and just plays on the fear of other racists. Hillary Clinton knows that the borders are secure.

PHOENIX — The United States has done a “really good job” of securing the border between Arizona and Mexico, Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton said in an exclusive interview Thursday.

“I think we’ve done a really good job securing the border,” she said. “I think that those who say we haven’t are not paying attention to what was done the last 15 years under President (George W.) Bush and President (Barack) Obama.”

Clinton said the federal government has added both border officers and obstructions, while the number of people attempting to cross the border has dropped.

“Immigration from Mexico has dropped considerably,” she said. ”It’s just not happening anymore.”

Clinton, the Democratic front-runner, was speaking just days before a campaign event in Phoenix.

Lies, lies, lies. It’s lies all the way down for Trump

The protestors at Trump rallies do not want to silence him, as some far-right nuts have complained. They only want to make him stop saying things that offend them; there’s a big difference, as any fool knows. Like everyone else with two brain cells, we need our safe spaces and he violates our constitutional rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by refusing to let us have them. Even the music played at Trump rallies is authoritarian and disgusting. That’s why we attend and protest at Trump rallies.

Trump is Hitler. All Republican candidates for president have been Hitlers for many, many years. Hitlerism is the foul soup in which they are conceived, born and raised. It’s high time to throw out the soup and Republicans along with it. Hillary will do that, and more.

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Editor’s comments

 

 

 

As a courtesy to Senator Librul, I inserted all of the links in his article. The presence of supporting links is about the only difference between his screed and those of Democrats and the Republican elite (but I repeat myself) disparaging Trump for stuff he has not done and does not do; for what they claim he is and not for what he is.

It’s high time for us to take America back from those who have been trying to destroy her. She belongs to We the People, not to the Democrat or Publican party bosses. Never forget.

 

 

Obama did not build our nation. Our ancestors did and it’s our inheritance.

 

 

For whom would the pioneers in the video vote were they alive now? Our “leaders” who sit in Washington, D.C., break their promises and take our money to finance their reelection campaigns so they can continue the process? Those who have weakened our nation and made her a second class world power? Those who elevate political correctness and multiculturalism above reality? Those who rewrite our history so that they can condemn it? I don’t think so. Which candidates do you think they would support?

crazed

 

Op-Ed: Chaos and 2nd Cold War, Part II: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy

October 11, 2015

Op-Ed: Chaos and 2nd Cold War, Part II: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy, Israel National News, Prof. Louis René Beres, October 11, 2015

(Part I is available here. — DM)

Israel should now be calculating the exact extent or subtlety with which it should consider communicating key portions of its nuclear posture and positions. Naturally, Israel should never reveal any too-specific information about its nuclear strategy, its nuclear hardening, or even its nuclear yield-related capabilities. Still, sometimes, the duty of finely-honed intelligence services should not be to maximize strategic secrecy, but rather, to carefully “share” certain bits of pertinent information.

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How will Russia respond to any ramped up American uses of force in the Middle East, and, more plausibly, vice-versa?  One must assume that Jerusalem is already asking these key questions, and even wondering whether, in part, greater mutualities of interest could sometime exist with Moscow than with Washington.

To wit, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin in September 2015. Among other things, the Israeli leader must  be calculating: 1)Will the Obama Administration’s incoherent retreat from most of the Middle East point toward a more permanent United States detachment from the region; and 2) If it does, what other major powers are apt to fill the resultant vacuum? Just as importantly, and as an obvious corollary to (2), above, the prime minister should be inquiring: “How will the still-emerging Cold War II axis of conflict impact America’s pertinent foreign policy decisions?”

There are some additional ironies yet to be noted. Almost certainly, ISIS, unless it is first crushed by U.S. and/or Russian-assisted counter-measures, will plan to march westward across Jordan, ultimately winding up at the borders of West Bank (Judea/Samaria). There, ISIS Jihadists could likely make fast work of any still-posted Hamas and Fatah forces, in effect, taking over what might once have become “Palestine.” In this now fully imaginable scenario, the most serious impediment to Palestinian statehood is not Israel, but rather a murderous band of Sunni Arab terrorists.[16]

What about the larger picture of “Cold War II?” Israeli defense planners will need to factor into their suitably nuanced calculations the dramatically changing relationship between Washington and Moscow. During “Cold War I,” much of America’s support for the Jewish State had its most fundamental origins in a perceived need to compete successfully in the Middle East with the then Soviet Union. In the progressive development of “Cold War II,” Jerusalem will need to carefully re-calculate whether a similar “bipolar” dynamic is once again underway, and whether the Russian Federation might, this time around, identify certain strategic benefits to favoring Israel in regional geo-politics.

In all such strategic matters, once Israel had systematically sorted through the probable impact of emerging “superpower” involvements in the Middle East, Jerusalem would need to reassess its historic “bomb in the basement.” Conventional wisdom, of course, has routinely pointed in a fundamentally different policy direction. Still, this “wisdom” assumes that credible nuclear deterrence is simply an automatic result of  physically holding nuclear weapons. By the logic of this too-simplistic argument, removing Israel’s nuclear bomb from the “basement” would only elicit new waves of global condemnation, and would likely do so without returning any commensurate security benefits to Jerusalem.

Scholars know, for good reason, that the conventional wisdom is often unwise. Looking ahead, the strategic issues facing Israel are not at all uncomplicated or straightforward.  Moreover, in the immutably arcane world of Israeli nuclear deterrence, it can never really be adequate that enemy states merely acknowledge the Jewish State’s nuclear status. Rather, it is also important that these states should be able to believe that Israel holds usable nuclear weapons, and that Jerusalem/Tel-Aviv would be willing to employ these usable weapons in certain clear, and situationally recognizable, circumstances.

Current instabilities in the Middle East will underscore several good reasons to doubt that Israel could ever benefit from any stubborn continuance of deliberate nuclear ambiguity. It would seem, too, from certain apparent developments already taking place within Mr. Netanyahu’s “inner cabinet,” that portions of Israel’s delegated leadership must now more fully understand the bases of any such informed skepticism.

In essence, Israel is imperiled by compounding and inter-related existential threats that justify its fundamental nuclear posture, and that require a correspondingly purposeful strategic doctrine. This basic need exists well beyond any reasonable doubt. Without such weapons and doctrine, Israel could not expectedly survive over time, especially if certain neighboring regimes, amid expanding chaos,  should soon become more adversarial, more Jihadist, and/or less risk-averse.

Incontestably, a purposeful nuclear doctrine could prove increasingly vital to coping with various more-or-less predictable strategic scenarios for Israel, that is, those believable narratives requiring preemptive action, and/or an appropriate retaliation.

Typically, military doctrine carefully describes how national forces should fight in various combat operations. The literal definition of “doctrine” derives from Middle English, from the Latin doctrina, meaning teaching, learning, andinstruction. Though generally unrecognized, the full importance of doctrine lies not only in the several ways that it can animate and unify military forces, but also in the uniquely particular fashion that it can transmit certain desired “messages.”

In other words, doctrine can serve an increasingly imperiled  state as a critical form of communication, one directed to its friends, and also to its foes.

Israel can benefit from just such broadened understandings of doctrine. The principal security risks now facing Israel are really more specific than general or generic. This is because Israel’s extant adversaries in the region will likely be joined, at some point, by: (1) a new Arab state of “Palestine;” and/or by (2) a newly-nuclear Iran. It is also because of the evidently rekindled global spark of “bipolar” or “superpower” adversity, and the somewhat corollary insertion of additional American military forces to combat certain new configurations of Jihadi terror.

For Israel, merely having nuclear weapons, even when fully recognized in broad outline by enemy states, can never automatically ensure successful deterrence. In this connection, although starkly counter-intuitive, an appropriately selective and thoughtful end to deliberate ambiguity could improve the overall credibility of Israel’s nuclear deterrent.  With this point in mind, the potential of assorted enemy attack prospects in the future could be reduced by making available certain selected information concerning the safety of  Israel’s nuclear weapon response capabilities.

This crucial information, carefully limited, yet more helpfully explicit, would center on the distinctly major and inter-penetrating issues of Israeli nuclear capability and decisional willingness.

Skeptics, no doubt, will disagree. It is, after all, seemingly sensible to assert that nuclear ambiguity has “worked” thus farWhile Israel’s current nuclear policy has done little to deter multiple conventional terrorist attacks, it has succeeded in keeping the country’s enemies, singly or in collaboration, from mounting any authentically existential aggressions. This conclusion is not readily subject to any reasonable disagreement.

But, as the nineteenth-century Prussian strategic theorist, Karl von Clausewitz, observed, in his classic essay, On War, there may come a military tipping point when “mass counts.” Israel is already coming very close to this foreseeable point of no return. Israel is very small.  Its enemies have always had an  undeniable advantage in “mass.”

More than any other imperiled state on earth, Israel needs to steer clear of such a tipping point.

This, too, is not subject to any reasonable disagreement.

Excluding non-Arab Pakistan, which is itself increasingly coup-vulnerable, none of Israel’s extant Jihadi foes has “The Bomb.”  However, acting together, and in a determined collaboration, they could still carry out potentially lethal assaults upon the Jewish State. Until now, this capability had not been possible, largely because of insistent and  persistently overriding fragmentations within the Islamic world. Looking ahead, however, these same fragmentations could sometime become a source of special danger to Israel, rather than remain a continuing source of  national safety and reassurance.

An integral part of Israel’s multi-layered security system lies in the country’s ballistic missile defenses, primarily, the Arrow or “Hetz.” Yet, even the well-regarded and successfully-tested Arrow, now augmented by the newer and shorter-range iterations of “Iron Dome,” could never achieve a sufficiently high probability of intercept to meaningfully protect Israeli civilians.[17] No system of missile defense can ever be “leak proof,” and even a single incoming nuclear missile that somehow managed to penetrate Arrow or corollary defenses could conceivably kill tens or perhaps hundreds of thousands of Israelis.[18]

In principle, at least, this fearsome reality could be rendered less prospectively catastrophic if Israel’s traditional reliance on deliberate ambiguity were suitably altered.

Why alter? The current Israeli policy of an undeclared nuclear capacity is unlikely to work indefinitely. Leaving aside a Jihadi takeover of already-nuclear Pakistan, the most obviously unacceptable “leakage” threat would come from a nuclear Iran. To be effectively deterred, a newly-nuclear Iran would require convincing assurance that Israel’s atomic weapons were both (1) invulnerable, and (2) penetration-capable.

Any Iranian judgments about Israel’s capability and willingness to retaliate with nuclear weapons would then depend largely upon some prior Iranian knowledge of these weapons, including their expected degree of protection from surprise attack, as well as Israel’s expected capacity to “punch-through” all pertinent Iranian active and passive defenses.

Jurisprudentially, at least, following JCPOA in Vienna, a  nuclear weapons-capable Iran is a fait accompli. For whatever reasons, neither the “international community” in general, nor Israel in particular, had ever managed to create sufficient credibility concerning a once-timely preemptive action. Such a critical defensive action would have required very complex operational capabilities, and could have generated Iranian/Hezbollah counter actions that might have a  very significant impact on the entire Middle East. Nevertheless, from a purely legal standpoint, such preemptive postures could still have been justified, under the authoritative criteria of anticipatory self-defense, as permitted under customary international law.

It is likely that Israel has undertaken some very impressive and original steps in cyber-defense and cyber-war, but even the most remarkable efforts in this direction will not be enough to stop Iran altogether. Earlier, the “sanctions” sequentially leveled at Tehran – although certainly better than nothing – could have had no tangible impact on effectively halting Iranian nuclearization.

Strategic assessments can sometimes borrow from a Buddhist mantra. What is, is. Ultimately, a nuclear Iran could decide to share some of its nuclear components and materials with Hezbollah, or with another kindred terrorist group. Ultimately, amid growing regional chaos, such injurious assets could find their way to such specifically U.S- targeted groups as ISIS.

Where relevant, Israeli nuclear ambiguity could be loosened by releasing certain very general information regarding the availability and survivability of appropriately destructive  nuclear weapons.

Israel should now be calculating the exact extent or subtlety with which it should consider communicating key portions of its nuclear posture and positions. Naturally, Israel should never reveal any too-specific information about its nuclear strategy, its nuclear hardening, or even its nuclear yield-related capabilities. Still, sometimes, the duty of finely-honed intelligence services should not be to maximize strategic secrecy, but rather, to carefully “share” certain bits of pertinent information.

What about irrational enemies? An Israeli move from ambiguity to disclosure would not likely help in the case of an irrational nuclear enemy. It is even possible, in this regard, that particular elements of Iranian leadership might meaningfully subscribe to certain end-times visions of a Shiite apocalypse. By definition, any such enemy would not necessarily value its own continued national survival more highly than any other national preference, or combination of preferences. By definition, any such enemy would present a genuinely unprecedented strategic challenge.

Were its leaders to become authentically irrational, or to turn in expressly non-rational directions, Iran could then effectively become a nuclear suicide-bomber in macrocosm.  Such a profoundly destabilizing strategic prospect is improbable, but it is also not inconceivable. A similarly serious prospect exists in already-nuclear Pakistan.

To protect itself against military strikes from irrational enemies, especially those attacks that could carry existential costs, Israel will need to reconsider virtually every aspect and function of its nuclear arsenal and doctrine. This is a strategic reconsideration that must be based upon a number of bewilderingly complex intellectual calculations, and not merely on ad hoc, and more-or-less presumptively expedient political judgments.

Removing the bomb from Israel’s basement could enhance Israel’s strategic deterrence to the extent that it would heighten enemy perceptions of the severe and likely risks involved. This would also bring to mind the so-called Samson Option, which, if suitably acknowledged, could allow various enemy decision-makers to note and underscore a core assumption. This is that Israel is prepared to do whatever is needed to survive. Interestingly, such preparation could be entirely permissible under governing international law, including the 1996 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice.[19]

Irrespective of  its preferred level of ambiguity, Israel’s nuclear strategy must always remain oriented toward deterrence, not to actual war-fighting.[20] The Samson Option refers to a policy that would be based in part upon a more-or-less implicit threat of massive nuclear retaliation for certain anticipated enemy aggressions.  Israel’s small size means, inter alia, that any nuclear attack would threaten Israel’s very existence, and could not be tolerated. Israel’s small size also suggests a compelling need for sea-basing (submarines) at least a recognizably critical portion of its core nuclear assets,

From a credibility standpoint, a Samson Option could make sense only in “last-resort,” or “near last-resort,” circumstances. If the Samson Option is to be part of a convincing deterrent, as it should, an incremental end to Israel’s deliberate ambiguity is essential. The really tough part of this transformational process will lie in determining the proper timing for such action vis-a-vis Israel’s security requirements, and in calculating authoritative expectations (reasonable or unreasonable) of the “international community.”

The Samson Option should never be confused with Israel’s overriding security objective: To seek stable deterrence at the lowest possible levels of military conflict. As a last resort, it basically states the following warning to all potential nuclear attackers:  “We (Israel) may have to `die,` but (this time) we won’t die alone.”

There is a related observation. In our often counter-intuitive strategic world, it can sometimes be rational to pretend irrationality. The nuclear deterrence benefits of any such pretended irrationality would depend, at least in part, upon an enemy state’s awareness of Israel’s intention to apply counter-value targeting when responding to a nuclear attack. But, once again, Israeli decision-makers would need to be aptly wary of ever releasing too-great a level of specific operational information.

In the end, there are specific and valuable critical security benefits that would likely accrue to Israel as the result of a purposefully selective and incremental end to its historic policy of deliberate nuclear ambiguity.   The right time to begin such an “end”  has not yet arrived. But, at the precise moment that Iran verifiably crosses the nuclear threshold, or arguably just before this portentous moment, Israel should  promptly remove The Bomb from its “basement.”

When this critical moment arrives, Israel should already have configured (1) its presumptively optimal allocation of nuclear assets; and (2) the extent to which this preferred configuration should now be disclosed. Such strategic preparation could then enhance the credibility of Israel’s indispensable nuclear deterrence posture.

When it is time for Israel to selectively ease its nuclear ambiguity, a second-strike nuclear force should be revealed in broad outline. This robust strategic force – hardened, multiplied, and dispersed – would need to be fashioned so as to recognizably inflict a decisive retaliatory blow against major enemy cities. Iran, it follows, so long as it is led by rational decision-makers, should be made to understand that the actual costs of  any planned aggressions against Israel would always exceed any expected gains.

In the final analysis, whether or not a shift from deliberate ambiguity to some selected level of nuclear disclosure would actually succeed in enhancing Israeli nuclear deterrence would depend upon several complex and intersecting factors. These include, inter alia, the specific types of nuclear weapons involved; reciprocal assessments and calculations of pertinent enemy leaders; effects on rational decision-making processes by these enemy leaders; and effects on both Israeli and adversarial command/control/communications operations. If  bringing Israel’s bomb out of the “basement” were to result in certain new enemy pre-delegations of nuclear launch authority, and/or in new and simultaneously less stable launch-on-warning procedures, the likelihood of unauthorized and/or accidental nuclear war could then be substantially increased.

Not all adversaries may be entirely rational. To comprehensively protect itself against potentially irrational nuclear adversaries, Israel has no logical alternative to developing an always problematic conventional preemption option, and to fashion this together with a suitable plan for subsequent “escalation dominance.” Operationally, especially at this very late date, there could be no reasonable assurances of success against many multiple hardened and dispersed targets. Regarding deterrence, however, it is noteworthy that “irrational” is not the same as “crazy,” or “mad,” and that even an expectedly irrational Iranian leadership could still maintain susceptible preference orderings that are both consistent and transitive.

Even an irrational Iranian leadership could be subject to threats of deterrence that credibly threaten certain deeply held religious as well as civic values. The relevant difficulty here for Israel is to ascertain the precise nature of these core enemy values. Should it be determined that an Iranian leadership were genuinely “crazy” or “mad,” that is, without any decipherable or predictable ordering of preferences, all deterrence bets could then have to give way to preemption, and possibly even to certain plainly unwanted forms of war fighting.

Such determinations, of course, are broadly strategic, not narrowly jurisprudential. From the discrete standpoint of international law, especially in view of Iran’s expressly genocidal threats against Israel, a preemption option could still represent a permissible expression of anticipatory self-defense. Again, however, this purely legal judgment would be entirely separate from any parallel or coincident assessments of operational success. There would be no point for Israel to champion any strategy of preemption on solely legal grounds if that same strategy were not also expected to succeed in specifically military terms.

Growing chaotic instability in the Middle East plainly heightens the potential for expansive and unpredictable conflicts.[21] While lacking any obviously direct connection to Middle East chaos, Israel’s nuclear strategy must now be purposefully adapted to this perilous potential. Moreover, in making this adaptation, Jerusalem could also have to pay special attention not only to the aforementioned revival of  major “bipolar” animosities, but also, more specifically and particularly, to Russia’s own now-expanding nuclear forces.

This cautionary warning arises not because augmented and modernized Russian nuclear forces would necessarily pose any enlarged military threat to Israel directly, but rather because these strategic forces could determine much of the way in which “Cold-War II” actually evolves and takes shape. Vladimir Putin has already warned Washington of assorted “nuclear countermeasures,” and recently test launched an intercontinental nuclear missile.[22] One such exercise involved a new submarine-launched Bulava missile, a weapon that could deliver a nuclear strike with up to 100 times the force of the 1945 Hiroshima blast.

Current adversarial Russian nuclear posturing vis-à-vis the United States remains oriented toward the Ukraine, not the Middle East.[23] Nevertheless, whatever happens to U.S.-Russian relations in any one part of the world could carry over to certain other parts, either incrementally, or as distinctly sudden interventions or escalations. For Jerusalem, this means, among other things, an unceasing obligation to fashion its own developing nuclear strategy and posture with an informed view to fully worldwide power problems and configurations.

Whether looking toward Gaza, West Bank (Judea/Samaria), Iran, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, Egypt, or Syria, Israel will need to systematically prioritize existential threats, and, thereafter, stay carefully focused on critically intersecting and overriding factors of global and regional security. In all such meticulously careful considerations, both chaos and Cold War II should be entitled to occupy a conspicuous pride of place.

Sources:

[16] A further irony here concerns Palestinian “demilitarization,” a pre-independence condition of statehood called for by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Should Palestinian forces (PA plus Hamas) ever actually choose to abide by any such formal legal expectation, it could makes these forces less capable of withstanding any foreseeable ISIS attacks. Realistically, however, any such antecedent compliance would be highly improbable. See, for earlier legal assessments of Palestinian demilitarization, Louis René Beres and (Ambassador) Zalman Shoval, “Why a Demilitarized Palestinian State Would Not Remain Demilitarized: A View Under International Law,” Temple International and Comparative Law Journal, Winter 1998, pp. 347-363; and Louis René Beres and Zalman Shoval, “On Demilitarizing a Palestinian `Entity’ and the Golan Heights: An International Law Perspective,” Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 28, No. 5, November 1995, pp. 959-972.

[17] There is another notable and more generic (pre-nuclear age) risk of placing too-great a reliance on defense. This is the risk that a corollary of any such reliance will be a prospectively lethal tendency to avoid taking otherwise advantageous offensive actions. Recall, in this connection, Carol von Clausewitz On War:  “Defensive warfare…does not consist of waiting idly for things to happen. We must wait only if it brings us visible and decisive advantages. That calm before the storm, when the aggressor is gathering new forces for a great blow, is most dangerous for the defender.” See: Carl von Clausewitz, Principles of War, Hans W. Gatzke, tr., New York: Dover Publications, 2003, p. 54.

[18] For early authoritative accounts, by the author, of expected consequences of a nuclear attack, see: Louis René Beres, Apocalypse: Nuclear Catastrophe in World Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980); Louis René Beres, Mimicking Sisyphus: America’s Countervailing Nuclear Strategy (Lexington, Mass., Lexington Books, 1983); Louis René Beres, Reason and Realpolitik: U.S. Foreign Policy and World Order (Lexington, Mass., Lexington Books, 1984); and Louis René Beres, Security or Armageddon: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy (Lexington, Mass., Lexington Books, 1986).

[19] See: “Summary of the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons,” Advisory Opinion, 1996, I.C.J., 226 (Opinion of 8 July 1996). The key conclusion of this Opinion is as follows: “…in view of the current state of international law, and of the elements of fact at its disposal, the Court cannot conclude definitively whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be lawful or unlawful in an extreme circumstance of self-defense, in which the very survival of a State would be at stake.”

[20] This advice was a central recommendation of the Project Daniel Group’s final report,  Israel’s Strategic Future (ACPR, Israel, May 2004: “The overriding priority of Israel’s nuclear deterrent force must always be that it preserves the country’s security without ever having to be fired against any target. The primary point of Israel’s nuclear forces must always be deterrence ex ante, not revenge ex post.” (p. 11). Conceptually, the core argument of optimizing military force by not resorting to any actual use pre-dates the nuclear age. To wit, Sun-Tzu, in his ancient classic, The Art of War, counseled: “Supreme excellence consists of breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”

[21] Once again, Prussian military thinker, Carl von Clausewitz, had already highlighted the generic (pre-nuclear age) dangers of unpredictability, summarizing these core hazards as matters of “friction.”

[22] ICBM test launches are legal and permissible under the terms of New START, It does appear, however,  that Russia has already developed and tested a nuclear-capable cruise missile with a range of 500-5500 KM, which would be in express violation of the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF). At the same time, current research into the U.S. Conventional Prompt Global Strike Program seeks to circle around INF Treaty limitations, by employing a delivery vehicle trajectory that is technically neither ballistic nor cruise.

[23] Russia, of course, is operating much more openly and substantially in Syria, but here, in the Middle East theatre, at least, Moscow’s public tone toward Washington is somewhat less confrontational or adversarial.

 

Op-Ed: Chaos and 2nd Cold War, Part I: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy

October 11, 2015

Op-Ed: Chaos and 2nd Cold War, Part I: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy, Israel National News,Prof. Louis René Beres, October 9, 2015

To fashion a functional nuclear strategy would be difficult for any state in world politics, but it could be especially challenging for one that keeps its bomb more-or-less securely “in the basement.” Now, as the Middle East descends into an ever more palpable chaos,[1] Israel will have to make certain far-reaching decisions on this very complex task.

Among other nuanced and widely intersecting concerns, Jerusalem’s decisions will need to account for a steadily hardening polarity between Russia and the United States.

Here, almost by definition, there will be no readily available guidebook to help lead the way. For the most part, Israel will need to be directed by an unprecedented fusion of historical and intellectual considerations. In the end, any resultant nuclear strategy will have to represent the prospective triumph of mind over mind, not merely of mind over matter.[2]

Conceivably, at least for the Jewish State that is smaller than America’s Lake Michigan, an emergent “Cold War II” could prove to be as determinative in shaping its national nuclear posture as coinciding regional disintegration. Still, a new Cold War need not necessarily prove disastrous or disadvantageous for Israel. It is also possible, perhaps even plausible, that Jerusalem could sometime discern an even greater commonality of strategic interest with Moscow, than with Washington.

To be sure, any such stark shift of allegiance in Israeli geo-political loyalties ought not to be intentionally sought, or in any way cultivated for its own sake. Moreover, on its face, it would currently be hard to imagine in Jerusalem that a superpower mentor of both Syria and Iran could somehow also find strategic common ground with Israel. Yet, in these relentlessly tumultuous times, any normally counter-intuitive judgments could, at least on rare occasions, prove surprisingly correct.

Credo quia absurdum. “I believe because it is absurd.” In these tumultuous times, certain once preposterous counter-intuitive judgments should no longer be dismissed out of hand. Moreover, in seeking to best understand the Israel-relevant dynamics of any renewed Washington-Moscow bipolar axis of conflict, Jerusalem will need to consider the prospects for a conceivably “looser” form of enmity.

In other words, looking ahead, it would seem realistic that a now “restored” superpower axis might nonetheless reveal greater opportunities for cooperation between the dominant “players.” Understood in the traditional language of international relations theory, this points toward a relationship that could become substantially less “zero-sum.”[3]

By definition, regarding zero-sum relationships in world politics, any one state’s gain is necessarily another state’s loss. But in Cold War II, it is reasonable to expect that the still-emerging axis of conflict will be “softer.” Here, for both major players, choosing a cooperative strategy could sometimes turn out to be judged optimal.[4]

Recognizing this core difference in superpower incentives from the original Cold War, and to accomplish such recognition in a timely fashion,  could prove vitally important for Israel. In essence, it could become a key factor in figuring out what should or should not be done by Jerusalem about any expected further increments of regional nuclear proliferation, and about Iran.

Iranian nuclearization remains the single most potentially daunting peril for Jerusalem. In this regard, virtually nothing has changed because of the recent Iran Nuclear Agreement (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, Vienna, 14 July, 2015).[5] To the contrary, in a situation fraught with considerable irony, Iran’s overall strategic latitude will actually have been expanded and improved by the terms of this concessionary pact.[6] Most plainly, these Iranian enhancements are the permissible result of a now no-holds-barred opportunity for transfer of multiple high-technology weapons systems, from Moscow to Tehran.

For the foreseeable future, the nuclear threat from Iran will continue to dwarf all other recognizable security threats.[7] At the same time, this enlarging peril could be impacted by certain multi-sided and hard to measure developments on the terrorism front.  In more precisely military terminology, these intersecting terror threats could function “synergistically,” or as so-called “force multipliers.”

The “whole” of the strategic danger now facing Israel is substantially greater than the simple arithmetic sum of its parts.[8] This true combination could include a persistently shifting regional “correlation of forces,”[9] one that would continue to oscillate menacingly, and also to the  observable benefit of Israel’s mortal enemies, both state and sub-state.

In Jerusalem and Tel-Aviv, serious derivative questions should now be addressed. What does this changing set of adversarial developments mean for Israel in very specifically operational and policy terms? Above all, this configuration of enmity should warn that a steady refinement and improvement of Israel’s nuclear strategy must be brought front and center. For Israel, there can be no other reasonable conclusion, not only because of ominous developments in Iran, but also because of the growing prospect of additional nuclear weapon states in the region, including perhaps Egypt, and/or Saudi Arabia.

Despite U.S. President Barack Obama’s continuing support for a “world free of nuclear weapons,” all of the world’s existing nuclear weapon states are already expanding and modernizing their nuclear arsenals. As of the end of September 2015, the world’s total inventory of nuclear warheads was reliably estimated as 17,000.[10] What Israel must also bear in mind is that this American president’s notion that nuclear weapons are intrinsically destabilizing, or even evil, makes no defensible intellectual sense.

It is plausible, rather, that only the perceived presence of nuclear weapons in the arsenals of both original superpowers prevented World War III. Equally convincing, Israel, without its atomic arsenal – whether ambiguous, or declared – could never survive, especially in a region that may soon combine further nuclear spread with steadily undiminished chaos.

Israel will have to decide, in prompt and sometimes inter-related increments, upon the precise extent to which the nation needs to optimize its composite national security policies on preemption, targeting, deterrence, war fighting, and active defense. A corollary imperative here must be to deal more purposefully with the complicated and politically stubborn issues of “deliberate ambiguity.” Going forward, it will not serve Israel’s best interests to remain ambiguous about ambiguity.

To date, at least, it seems that this longstanding policy of “opacity” (as it is also sometimes called) has made perfectly good sense. After all, one can clearly assume that both friends and enemies of Israel already acknowledge that the Jewish State holds persuasive military nuclear capabilities that are (1) survivable; and (2) capable of penetrating any determined enemy’s active defenses. Concerning projections of nuclear weapon survivability, Israel has made plain, too, its steady and possibly expanding deployment of advanced sea-basing (submarines).

Thus far, “radio silence” on this particular “triad” component has likely not been injurious to Israel. This could change, however, and rather quickly. Here, again, there is no room for error. Already, in delivering his famousFuneral Speech, with its conspicuously high praise of Athenian military power, Pericles had warned: “What I fear more than the strategies of our enemies, is our own mistakes.”[11]

Thus far, there have been no expressed indications that Israel’s slowly growing force of Dolphin-class diesel submarines has anything at all to do with reducing the vulnerability of its second-strike nuclear forces, but any such policy extrapolations about Israeli nuclear retaliatory forces would also be problematic to dismiss.[12]

Also significant for Israel’s overall security considerations is the refractory issue  of “Palestine.” A Palestinian state, any Palestinian state, could pose a serious survival threat to Israel, in part, as a major base of operations for launching increasingly lethal terrorist attacks against Israeli citizens. A possibly more important “Palestine” security issue for Israel lies in an even larger generalized potential for creating a steadily deteriorating correlation of regional forces. More specifically, any such deterioration could include various destabilizing “synergies,” that is, tangible interactive effects resulting from instabilities already evident  in Iraq and Syria, and from a manifestly concomitant Iranian nuclearization.

Leaving aside the various possibilities of any direct nuclear transfer to terrorists, a Palestinian state would  itself remain  non-nuclear. But, when viewed together with Israel’s other regional foes, this new and 23rd Arab state could still have the stunningly consequential effect of becoming a “force multiplier,” thereby impairing Israel’s already-minimal strategic depth, and  further rendering the Jewish State vulnerable to a thoroughly diverse panoply of both conventional and unconventional attacks. Here, for a variety of easily determinable reasons, a “merely” non-nuclear adversary could still heighten the chances of involving Israel in assorted nuclear weapons engagements,[13] including, in the future, a genuine nuclear war.[14]

What, then, should Israel do next about its core nuclear posture, and about its associated “order of  battle?”  How, exactly, should its traditionally ambiguous nuclear stance be adapted to the increasingly convergent and inter-penetrating threats of Middle Eastern chaos, Iranian nuclearization, and “Palestine?” In answering these difficult questions, Jerusalem will have to probe very carefully into the alleged American commitment to “degrade” and “destroy” ISIS(IS).  However well-intentioned, this pledge, especially if actually carried out effectively, could simultaneously aid both Syria’s President Assad, and the surrogate Shiite militia, Hezbollah.[15]

___________________________

[1] Although composed in the seventeenth century, Thomas Hobbes’Leviathan still offers an illuminating and enduring vision of chaos in world politics. Says the English philosopher in Chapter XIII, “Of the Naturall Condition of Mankind, as concerning their Felicity, and Misery:”  during chaos, a condition which Hobbes identifies as a “time of Warre,”  it is a time “…where every man is Enemy to every man… and where the life of man is solitary, poore, nasty, brutish, and short.” At the time of writing, Hobbes believed that the condition of “nature” in world politics was less chaotic than that same condition existing among individual human beings -because of what he called the “dreadful equality” of individual men in nature being able to kill others – but this once-relevant differentiation has effectively disappeared with the global spread of nuclear weapons.

[2] The core importance of literally thoughtful military doctrine – of attention to the complex intellectual antecedents of any actual battle – had already been recognized by early Greek and Macedonian armies. See, on this still-vital recognition, F.E. Adcock, The Greek and Macedonian Art of War (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1962), especially Chapter IV.

[3] For much earlier, but still useful, scholarly assessments of polarity in world politics, by this author, See: Louis René Beres, “Bipolarity, Multipolarity, and the Reliability of Alliance Commitments,” Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 25, No. 4, December 1972, pp. 702-710; Louis René Beres, “Bipolarity, Multipolarity, and the Tragedy of the Commons,” Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 26, No. 4, December 1973, pp. 649-658; and Louis René Beres, “Guerillas, Terrorists, and Polarity: New Structural Models of World Politics,”Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 27, No.4., December 1974, pp. 624-636.

[4] Of course, in the context of any non-zero-sum game, ensuring enforceable agreements between the players (here, the United States and Russia) could still prove more-or-less decisively problematic.

[5]  See Louis René Beres, “After the Vienna Agreement: Could Israel and a Nuclear Iran Coexist?”  IPS Publications, IDC Herzliya, Institute for Policy and Strategy, Israel, September 2015.

[6] Significantly, this agreement also violates two major treaties, the 1968Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and the 1948 Genocide Convention. The first violation has to do with subverting the NPT expectation that all non-nuclear state signatories must remain non-nuclear for a period of “indefinite duration.” The second violation centers on codified U.S. indifference to Genocide Convention obligations concerning responsibility to enforce the prohibition against “incitement to genocide.” In both cases, moreover, per article 6 of theU.S. Constitution – the “Supremacy Clause” – these violations are ipso factoalso violations of U.S. domestic law.

[7] See Louis René Beres, “Like Two Scorpions in a Bottle: Could Israel and a Nuclear Iran Coexist in the Middle East?” The Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, Vol. 8., No. 1., 2014, pp. 23-32. See, also: Louis René Beres and (General/USAF/ret.) John T. Chain, “Living With Iran: Israel’s Strategic Imperative,” BESA Perspectives Paper No. 249, May 28, 2014, BESA Center for Strategic Studies, Israel. General Chain was Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Strategic Air Command.

[8] See Louis René Beres, “Core Synergies in Israel’s Strategic Planning: When the Adversarial Whole is Greater than the Sum of its Parts,” Harvard National Security Journal, Harvard Law School, June 2, 2015.

[9] See Louis René Beres, “Understanding the Correlation of Forces in the Middle East: Israel’s Urgent Strategic Imperative,” The Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, Vol. IV, No. 1 (2010). Russia’s Putin, of course, is accustomed to thinking in such strategic terms; in the Soviet days, “correlation of forces” was already a tested yardstick for measuring Moscow’s presumptive military obligations.

[10] Se: Hans M. Kristensen, “Nuclear Weapons Modernization: A Threat to the NPT?”  Arms Control Today, Arms Control Association, September 2015, 11 pp.

[11] From the Funeral Speech of 431 BCE, near the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War, when Sparta first invaded Attica. For greater detail, see:Thucydides, The Speeches of Pericles, H.G. Edinger, tr., New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing Co., 1979), 68 pp.

[12] On nuclear sea-basing by Israel (submarines) see: Louis René Beres and (Admiral/USN/ret.) Leon “Bud” Edney, “Israel’s Nuclear Strategy: A Larger Role for Submarine Basing,” The Jerusalem Post, August 17, 2014; and Professor Beres and Admiral Edney, “A Sea-Based Nuclear Deterrent for Israel,” Washington Times, September 5, 2014. Admiral Edney was NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic.

[13] Such engagements could include assorted enemy attacks on Israel’sDimona nuclear reactor. Already, in both 1991 and 2014, this small reactor came under combined missile and rocket attack from Iraq and Hamas aggressions, respectively. For fully authoritative assessments of these attacks, and related risks, see: Bennett Ramberg, “Should Israel Close Dimona? The Radiological Consequences of a Military Strike on Israel’s Plutonium-Production Reactor,” Arms Control Today, Arms Control Association, May 2008, pp. 6-13.

[14] Naturally, the risks of a nuclear war would be expected to increase together with any further regional spread of nuclear weapons. In this connection, returning to the prophetic insights of Thomas Hobbes, back in the seventeenth century (see Note #1, above), Leviathan makes clear that the chaotic condition of nature is substantially worse among individual human beings, than among states. This is because, opines Hobbes, also in Chapter XIII, within this particular variant of chaos, “…the weakest has strength enough to kill the strongest….” Now, however, with the spread of nuclear weapons, the “dreadful equality” of Hobbesian man could be replicated, more or less, in the much larger and more consequential arena of world politics.

[15] “Everything is very simple in war,” advises Clausewitz, “but the simplest thing is also very difficult.” See: Carl von Clausewitz, On War.

The Moscow-Washington-Tehran Axis of Evil

October 3, 2015

The Moscow-Washington-Tehran Axis of Evil, Canada Free PressCliff Kincaid, October 3, 2015

(I am not posting this because I currently accept its conclusions or some of their bases. However, it’s frightening, interesting and has at least some food for thought. — DM)

KINCAID100315

The conventional wisdom is that Vladimir Putin has blindsided Barack Obama in the Middle East, catching the U.S. off-guard. It’s another Obama “failure,” we’re told. “Obama administration scrambles as Russia attempts to seize initiative in Syria,” is how a Washington Post headline described it. A popular cartoon shows Putin kicking sand in the faces of Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry on a beach.

The conventional wisdom is driven by the notion that Obama has the best of intentions but that he’s been outmaneuvered. What if his intention all along has been to remake the Middle East to the advantage of Moscow and its client state Iran? What if he knows exactly what he’s doing? Too many commentators refuse to consider that Obama is deliberately working against U.S. interests and in favor of the enemies of the U.S. and Israel.

In his U.N. address, Obama said, “As President of the United States, I am mindful of the dangers that we face; they cross my desk every morning. I lead the strongest military that the world has ever known, and I will never hesitate to protect my country or our allies, unilaterally and by force where necessary.”

This is laughable. We still have a strong military, but the inevitable conclusion from what’s recently transpired is that he doesn’t want to protect the interests of the U.S. or its allies in the Middle East. This is not a “failure,” but a deliberate policy.

The trouble with conventional wisdom is the assumption that Obama sees things the way most Americans do. In order to understand Obama’s Middle East policy, it is necessary to consult alternative sources of news and information and analysis. That includes communist news sources.

A fascinating analysis appears in the newspaper of the Socialist Workers Party, The Militant, one of the oldest and most influential publications among the left. You may remember the old photos which surfaced of Lee Harvey Oswald selling copies of The Militant before he killed the American president.

The headline over The Militant story by Maggie Trowe caught my eye: “‘Reset’ with US allows Moscow to send arms, troops to Syria.” It was not about Hillary Clinton’s reset with Moscow years ago, but a more recent one.

Here’s how her story began: “Moscow’s rapid military buildup in Syria is a result of the ‘reset’ in relations forged with the Russian and Iranian governments by the Barack Obama administration. The deal—reshaping alliances and conditions from Syria, Iran and the rest of the Middle East to Ukraine and surrounding region—is the cornerstone of U.S. imperialism’s efforts to establish a new order in the Mideast, but from a much weaker position than when the now-disintegrating order was imposed after World Wars I and II.”

Of course, the idea that “U.S. imperialism” is served by giving the advantage to Russia and Iran is ludicrous. Nevertheless, it does appear that a “reset” of the kind described in this article has in fact taken place. The author writes about Washington’s “strategic shift to Iran and Russia” and the “downgrading” of relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia. She notes that Moscow “seeks more influence and control of the country [Syria] and its Mediterranean ports and a stronger political hand in Mideast politics.” Iran “has sent Revolutionary Guard Quds forces to help prop up Assad, and collaborates with Moscow on operations in Syria,” she notes.

It is sometimes necessary to reject the conventional wisdom and instead analyze developments from the point of view of the Marxists, who understand Obama’s way of thinking. They pretend that Obama is a pawn of the “imperialists” but their analysis also makes sense from a traditional pro-American perspective. Those who accept the evidence that Obama has a Marxist perspective on the world have to consider that his policy is designed to help Moscow and Tehran achieve hegemony in the region.

At the same time, the paper reported, “Since Secretary of State John Kerry’s congenial visit with Putin in May, it has become clear that Washington would accept Moscow’s influence over its ‘near abroad’ in Ukraine and the Baltics, in exchange for help to nail down the nuclear deal with Tehran.” Hence, Obama has put his stamp of approval on Russian aggression in Europe and the Middle East. This analysis, though coming from a Marxist newspaper, fits the facts on the ground. It means that more Russian aggression can be expected in Europe.

The wildcard is Israel and it looks like the Israeli government is being increasingly isolated, not only by Obama but by Putin. The story notes that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Putin in Moscow on September 21, saying his concern was to “prevent misunderstandings” between Israeli and Russian troops, since Israel has carried out airstrikes in Syrian territory targeting weapons being transported to the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorists in Lebanon.

Some reports indicated that Israel had set up a joint mechanism with the Russian military to coordinate their operations in Syria.

However, the Russian leader reportedly told Obama during their U.N. meeting that he opposes Israeli attacks in Syria. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz ran a story that Russia intends to “Clip Israel’s Wings Over [the] Syrian Skies.” The paper added that Putin’s remarks to Obama showed that despite Netanyahu’s meeting with Putin in Moscow, “Russia intends to create new facts on the ground in Syria that will include restricting Israel’s freedom of movement in Syrian skies.”

It hardly seems to be the case that Obama has been outsmarted in the Middle East, or that Putin and Obama don’t like each other. Instead, it appears that Obama is working hand-in-glove with Putin to isolate Israel and that Obama is perfectly content to let the former KGB colonel take the lead.

Israel has always been seen by most U.N. members as the real problem in the region. Obama is the first U.S. President to see Israel in that same manner and to act accordingly. This is why Putin has not caught Obama off-guard in the least. They clearly see eye-to-eye on Israel and Iran.

Don’t forget that Obama actually telephoned Putin to thank him for his part in the nuclear deal with Iran. The White House issued a statement saying, “The President thanked President Putin for Russia’s important role in achieving this milestone, the culmination of nearly 20 months of intense negotiations.”

Building off the Iran nuclear deal, it looks like the plan is for Russia and the United States to force Israel to embrace a U.N. plan for a nuclear-free Middle East. That would mean Israel giving up control of its defensive nuclear weapons to the world body. Iran will be able to claim it has already made a deal to prohibit its own nuclear weapons development.

Such a scheme was outlined back in 2005 in an article by Mohamed Elbaradei, the director-general at the time of the U.N.‘s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). That’s the same body that is now supposed to guarantee Iranian compliance with the terms of the nuclear deal signed by Russia and the U.S.

Elbaradei argued there would have to be “a dialogue on regional security as part of the peace process,” to be followed by an agreement “to make the Middle East a nuclear-weapons-free zone.”

The “dialogue” appears to be taking place now, mostly under the authority and auspices of the Russian government, with President Obama playing a secondary role.

The obvious danger is that Israel would be forced to comply with the plan for a “nuclear-weapons-free-zone,” while Iran would cheat and develop nuclear weapons anyway.

Netanyahu told the U.N. that “Israel deeply appreciates President Obama’s willingness to bolster our security, help Israel maintain its qualitative military edge and help Israel confront the enormous challenges we face.”

This must be his hope. But he must know that Israel’s security is slipping and that the survival of his country is in grave danger in the face of this Moscow-Washington-Tehran axis.

Before Putin further consolidates his military position in the Middle East and Iran makes more progress in nuclear weapons development, Netanyahu will have to launch a preemptive strike on the Islamic state. “Israel will not allow Iran to break in, to sneak in or to walk in to the nuclear weapons club,” the Israeli Prime Minister said.

In launching such a strike before the end of Obama’s second presidential term, Israel would bring down the wrath of the world, led by Russia and the U.S., on the Jewish state.

Op-Ed: MUST READ: Facing Iran on its Own

September 6, 2015

Op-Ed: MUST READ: Facing Iran on its Own, Israeli National News, Prof. Louis Rene Beres, September 6, 2015

(“Ready, fire, aim . . . think” is a poor strategy. “Think, ready, aim, fire and then think some more” is better. That should be obvious, but is it?– DM)

The urgent primacy of Israel’s defining a nuclear doctrine is clear. The cumulative harms ensuing from the significant diplomatic failure to stop the Iran deal will ultimately depend upon Israel’s own selected responses.

In core matters of war and peace, timing is everything. For Israel, now cheerlessly confirmed in its long-held view that U.S.-led diplomacy with Iran was misconceived, future strategic options should be determined with great care. In essence, this means that the beleaguered mini-state’s nuclear policies, going forward, should be extrapolated from carefully fashioned doctrine, and not assembled, ad hoc, or “on the fly,” in assorted and more-or-less discrete reactions to periodic crises.

More precisely, should Israel decide to decline any residual preemption options, and prepare instead for aptly reliable and protracted dissuasion of its nearly-nuclear Iranian adversary, several corresponding decisions would be necessary. These closely-intersecting judgments would concern a still-expanding role for multilayered ballistic missile defense,[1] and also, a well-reasoned and incremental discontinuance of deliberate nuclear ambiguity.[2]

In this connection, among other things, Jerusalem will need to convince Tehran that Israel’s nuclear forces are (1) substantially secure from all enemy first-strike attacks,[3] and (2) entirely capable of penetrating all enemy active defenses.[4]

To succeed with any policy of long-term deterrence, a nearly-nuclear Iran would first need to be convinced that Israel’s nuclear weapons were actually usable. In turn, this complex task of strategic persuasion would require some consciously nuanced efforts to remove “the bomb” from Israel’s “basement.” One specific reason for undertaking any such conspicuous removal would be to assure Iranian decision-makers that Israeli nuclear weapons were not only abundantly “real,” but also amenable to variable situational calibrations.

The strategic rationale of such assurance would be to convince Iran that Israel stands ready to confront widely-different degrees of plausible enemy threat.

In the “good old days” of the original U.S.-U.S.S.R. Cold War  (we may now be on the brink of “Cold War II”), such tangibly measured strategiccalculations had been granted their own specific name. Then, the proper term was “escalation dominance.” Early on, therefore, it had been understood, by both superpowers, that adequate security from nuclear attack must always include not only mutually-reinforcing or “synergistic” protections against “bolt-from-the-blue” missile attacks, but also the avoidance of unwitting or uncontrolled escalations. Such unpredictably rapid jumps in coercive intensity, it had already been noted, could too-quickly propel certain determined adversaries from “normally” conventional engagements to atomic war.

Occasionally, especially in many-sided strategiccalculations, truth can be counter-intuitive. On this point, regarding needed Israeli preparations for safety from a nearly-nuclear Iran,[5] there exists an obvious, but still generally overlooked, irony. It is that in all foreseeable circumstances of nuclear deterrence, the credibility of pertinent Israeli threats could sometimes vary inversely with perceived destructiveness. This suggests, at a minimum, that one distinctly compelling reason for moving deliberately from nuclear ambiguity to certain limited forms of nuclear disclosure would be to communicate the following vital message to Iran: Israel’s retaliatory nuclear weapons are not too destructive for actual operational use.

Soon, Israel’s decision-makers will need to proceed more self-consciously and explicitly on rendering another important judgment. This closely-related decision would concern making an essentially fundamental strategic choice between “assured destruction” and “nuclear war fighting” postures. To draw upon appropriate military parlance, assured destruction strategies are those postures generally referred to as “counter-value” or “mutual assured destruction” (MAD) strategies.

Nuclear war fighting strategies, on the other hand, are more typically synonymous with “counterforce .”

In principle, counter-value and counterforce strategies represent seemingly alternative theories of deterrence, differential nuclear postures in which a state chooses to primarily target its strategic nuclear weapons on either its presumed enemy’s “soft” civilian populations and supporting infrastructures, or on that same enemy’s “hard” military assets. Although presumptively in prima facie violation of humanitarian international law, or the law of armed conflict (because counter-value doctrine would apparently disregard, bydefinition, the binding legal obligations of “distinction”), it is still reasonable to recall another relevant argument: Favoring counter-value targeting doctrines could more persuasively reduce the probability of a nuclear war.

Significantly, this means that any Israeli commitment to assured destruction strategies could ultimately prove less corrosive, and more humane.

It is also plausible that a geographically vulnerable state lacking Clausewitzian “mass,[6] and contemplating “counter-value versus counterforce” targeting issues, would opt for some sort or other of “mixed” strategy. In any event, whichever nuclear deterrence strategy Israel might actually decide to choose, what would only matter is what Iran itself would perceive as real. Always, in matters of nuclear strategy, the only decisional reality is perceived reality.

In choosing between two core nuclear targeting alternatives, Israel could decide to opt for nuclear deterrence based primarily upon assured destruction strategies. Reciprocally, however, looking at the negative consequences column, Jerusalem could thereby invite an enlarged risk of “losing” any nuclear war that might sometime arise. For the most part, this is true because counter-value-targeted nuclear weapons are not designed to efficiently destroy military targets.

If, on the other hand, Israel were to opt for nuclear deterrence based primarily upon counterforce capabilities, Iran could then feel especially threatened, a potentially precarious condition that could subsequently heighten the prospect of an enemy first-strike, and thereby, of an eventual nuclear exchange.

In these particular matters, assorted “intervening variables” must also be considered. Israel’s strategic decisions on counter-value versus counterforce doctrines should depend, at least in part, on certain prior investigations of: (1) enemy state inclinations to strike first; and (2) enemy state inclinations to strike all-at-once, or in stages.

Should Israeli strategic planners assume that an already-nuclear Iran is apt to strike first, and to strike in an unlimited fashion (that is, to fire all or most of its nuclear weapons, right away), Israeli counterforce-targeted warheads, used in retaliation, could hit only empty silos/launchers. Anticipating such manifestly unfavorable circumstances, Israel’s only reasonable application of counterforce doctrine would then be to strike first itself.

Nonetheless, any idea of an Israeli nuclear preemption, even if technically “rational” and legal, would likely be dismissed out-of-hand in Jerusalem.

Concerning specific jurisprudential issues of law and nuclear weapons use, the U.N.’s International Court of Justice, in a landmark 1996 Advisory Opinion, ruled that nuclear weapons could sometimes be used permissibly, but only in those largely residual circumstances where the “very survival of a state would be at stake.”

If, as now seems most likely, Israel were to reject all conceivable preemption options, there would be no compelling reason for Jerusalem to opt for a counterforce strategy vis-à-vis Iran. Rather, from the discernibly critical standpoint of persuasive intra-war deterrence, a counter-value strategy would likely prove more appropriate.

With this in mind, The Project Daniel Group, in 2004, had urged Israel to “focus its (second-strike) resources on counter-value warheads….”[7] This earlier suggestion still makes perfect sense today.

Should Israeli planners assume that an already-nuclear Iran is apt to strike first, but, for whatever reason, to strike “only” in a limited fashion, holding some measure of nuclear firepower in reserve for anticipated follow-on strikes, Israeli counterforce-targeted warheads might display damage-limiting benefits. Moreover, such counterforce targeting preparations could serve an Israeli conventional preemption, either as a compelling counter-retaliatory threat, or, should Israel decide not to preempt, as a threatened Israeli retaliation.

For example, should a conventional Israeli defensive first-strike be intentionally limited, perhaps because it would have been coupled together with a calculated quid-pro-quo of no further destruction, in exchange for an enemy cessation of hostilities, recognizable counterforce targeting preparations could serve to reinforce an Israeli counter-retaliatory strike.

Here, Israel’s attempt at intra-war deterrence could fail, thus occasioning the need for additional follow-on damage limiting strikes.

Israeli preparations for nuclear war-fighting should never be interpreted as a distinct alternative to nuclear deterrence. Instead, such preparations should always be considered as essential and integral components of Israeli nuclear deterrence.[8] The overriding purpose of Israel’s nuclear forces, whether still ambiguous, or newly disclosed, must consistently be deterrence, not any actual military engagement. In principle, of course, nuclear war-fighting scenarios are not ipso facto out-of-the-question, but they should always be rejected by Israel where still possible.

Si vis pacem, para bellum atomicum. “If you want peace, prepare for atomic war.”

In the still-valid counsel of Project Daniel: “The primary point of Israel’s nuclear forces must always be deterrence ex ante, not revenge ex post.” Or, conceptualized in the historically antecedent language of Sun-Tzu, the ancient Chinese military thinker, Israel should be guided by the following sound maxim: “Subjugating the enemy’s army without fighting is always the true pinnacle of excellence.”[9]

Yet, even at this late date, there are existentially menacing circumstances that could sometime turn a rational Israeli prime minister toward preemption. These are prospectively catastrophic circumstances wherein sustained and stable nuclear deterrence with Iran is expected to be highly improbable, or even inconceivable.

If Israeli leadership should have corollary doubts about Iranian decisional rationality, it could still make strategic sense to launch certain appropriately defensive first strike attacks. This calculation would obtain, moreover, even if the expected retaliatory and public relations consequences for Israel would expectedly be overwhelming.

There are two final and closely-related observations.

First, even if it could be assumed, by Israel, that Iranian leaders will always seek to act rationally, this would ignore the accuracy of information used to make rational decisions. Rationality, in all strategic calculations, refers only to the intention of maximizing preferences. It says nothing about whether or not the information used is correct or incorrect.

This means that perfectly rational Iranian leaders could sometime make errors in calculation that would lead them to launch an aggressive war against Israel.[10]

Second, Iranian leaders could sometime be irrational, but this would not mean that they were also mad or “crazy.” Rather, in all pertinent matters, an irrational national decision is “merely” one which does not place the very highest value upon national survival. For a relevant example, Iranian decision-makers could sometime choose to act upon a preference-ordering that values destruction of the Jewish State and the corollary fulfillment of presumed religious expectations more highly than the Shiite republic’s physical existence.

In principle, at least, faced with just such an irrational adversary, Israel might still manage to forge a successful plan for deterrence. Here, however, Jerusalem would first need to base its discernibly calculable threats upon those particular and identifiable religious institutions or infrastructures held most sacred in Tehran.

When the ancient Greek leader, Pericles, delivered his famous Funeral Oration, with its ritualistic praise of Athenian civilization – a speech we know today by way of Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War – his perspective was openly strategic. Long before military calculations had ever needed to include nuclear weapons, and about a half-century after the Persian (Iranian) defeat of Greece at Thermopylae by Xerxes, Pericles had already understood the vital connections between enemy power and self-inflicted error. “What I fear more than the  strategies of our enemies,” Pericles had presciently warned, “is our own mistakes.”

There is a important lesson here for Israel: Looking beyond the just-completed nuclear agreement with Iran, do not forget that the cumulative harms ensuing from this significant diplomatic failure will ultimately depend upon Israel’s own selected responses.[11] To best ensure the most suitable responses, Jerusalem should first be certain to fashion a theoretically-refined[12] and appropriately flexible strategic doctrine.

__________________________

Sources:

[1] See, on this role: Louis René Beres and (Major-General/IDF/Res.) Isaac Ben-Israel, “Think Anticipatory Self-Defense,” The Jerusalem Post, October 22, 2007; Professor Beres and MG Ben-Israel, “The Limits of Deterrence,”Washington Times, November 21, 2007; Professor Beres and MG Ben-Israel, “Deterring Iran,” Washington Times, June 10, 2007; Professor Beres and MG Ben-Israel, “Deterring Iranian Nuclear Attack,” Washington Times, January 27, 2009; and Professor Beres and MG Ben-Israel, “Defending Israel from Iranian Nuclear Attack,” The Jewish Press, March 13, 2013. See, also: Louis René Beres and (General/USAF/Ret.) John T. Chain, “Could Israel Safely Deter a Nuclear Iran,” The Atlantic, August 9, 2012; Professor Beres and General Chain, “Living With Iran,” BESA Center for Strategic Studies, Israel, May 2014; and Louis René Beres and (Lt. General/USAF/Ret.) Thomas McInerney, “Obama’s Inconceivable, Undesirable, Nuclear-Free Dream,” US News & World Report, August 29, 2013.

[2] See, on such discontinuance: Louis René Beres, “Like Two Scorpions in a Bottle: Could Israel and a Nuclear Iran Coexist in the Middle East,” The Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs, Vol. 8., No. 1, 2014, pp. 23-32; Louis RenéBeres, “Facing Myriad Enemies: Core Elements of Israeli Nuclear Deterrence,” The Brown Journal of World Affairs, Vol. XX, Issue 1., Fall/Winter 2013, pp. 17-30; Louis René Beres, “Lessons for Israel from Ancient Chinese Military Thought: Facing Iranian Nuclearization with Sun-Tzu,” Harvard National Security Journal, Harvard Law School, 2013; Louis René Beres, “Striking Hezbollah-Bound Weapons in Syria: Israel’s Actions Under International Law,” Harvard National Security Journal, 2013; and Louis René Beres, “Looking Ahead: Revising Israel’s Nuclear Ambiguity in the Middle East,” Herzliya Conference, 2013, March 2013; IDC/Herzliya.

[3] Recently, improved security for Israeli nuclear forces has been associated with enhanced sea-basing options. See, on these options: Louis René Beres and (Admiral/USN/ret.) Leon “Bud” Edney, “Israel’s Nuclear Strategy: A Larger Role for Submarine-Basing,” The Jerusalem Post, August 17, 2014; and Professor Beres and Admiral Edney, “A Sea-Based Nuclear Deterrent for Israel,” Washington Times, September 5, 2014.

[4] See Professor Beres and Admiral Edney, “What Now For Israel: What are the Jewish State’s security options after the Iran Nuclear Agreement?”, US News & World Report, July 14, 2015.

[5] On July 23, 2014, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei, called openly for the annihilation of Israel. See: Y. Mansharof, E. Kharrazi, Y. Lahat, and A. Savyon, “Quds Day in Iran: Calls for Annihilation of Israel and Arming the West Bank,” MEMRI, July 25, 2014, Inquiry and Analysis Series Report, No. 1107. In its July 2015 agreement with Iran, the U.S. included no contingent requirement that Iran first reject such expressly genocidal intentions. Jurisprudentially, it is significant that precisely such a requirement is deducible from the authoritative 1948Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. In other words, by not insisting upon such a requirement, the U.S. was acting in violation of its own antecedent treaty obligations.

[6] See Karl von Clausewitz, On War.

[7] See: Israel’s Strategic Future: Project Daniel, The Project Daniel Group, Louis René Beres, Chair, Ariel Center for Policy Research, ACPR Policy Paper No. 155, Israel, May 2004, 64 pp.

[8] Herman Kahn’s instructive comment many years back stipulates: “It is incorrect and unproductive to categorically accuse those who subscribe to war-fighting concepts either of wanting to fight a nuclear war, or of having less interest in deterrence.” See Kahn, Thinking About the Unthinkable in the 1980s, New York, Simon and Schuster, 1984, p. 43.

[9] In heeding this ancient counsel, Israeli decision-makers will always have to bear in mind the totality of the Iranian threat, that is, the direct perils of a nuclear missile attack, and also the indirect risks issuing from assorted Iranian surrogates. Most plainly, Iranian surrogate power resides in the Shiite militia, Hezbollah, which now operates out of Syria, as well as Lebanon; in the government and its derivative militias in Iraq; in Shiite Houthi rebels, now expanding their control across Yemen; and even in Sunni Hamas, which sometimes represents specifically Iranian preferences and expectations in Palestinian Gaza. Significantly, the cumulative impact of Iranian-posed direct and indirect threats to Israel is plausibly greater than the simple sum of its parts –  in other words, this injurious impact is authentically synergistic.

[10] For pertinent law, see: Resolution on the Definition of Aggression, Dec. 14, 1974, U.N.G.A. Res. 3314 (XXIX), 29 U.N. GAOR, Supp. (No. 31) 142, and U.N. Doc. A/9631, 1975, reprinted in 13 I.L.M. 710, 1974; and Charter of the United Nations, Art. 51., Done at San Francisco, June 26, 1945. Entered into force, for the United States, Oct. 24, 1945, 59 Stat., 1031, T.S. No. 993, Bevans, 1153, 1976, and Y.B.U.N. 1043.

[11] In this connection, Israel must conspicuously augment its comprehensive deterrence posture with expanding active defenses. At the same time, however, the country’s leaders must bear in mind that any such augmentation ought not to override its obligations to be proactive or audacious. “Defensive warfare,” wrote Clausewitz, “does not consist of waiting idly for things to happen. We must wait only if it brings us visible and decisive advantages.” In a further observation that could have been composed in a direct warning to modern Israel about a nuclearizing Iran, the Prussian military thinker went on insightfully: “That calm before the storm, when the aggressor is gathering new forces for a great blow, is most dangerous for the defender.”

[12] “Theories are nets,” said the German poet, Novalis, “and only those who cast, will catch.”