Sentient and rational folks can no longer deny the obvious: the Iranian regime, when they exhort Death to Israel and Death to America, is indeed gunning for both nations. Their genocidal war inexorably twins the “Big Satan” and the “Little Satan”. Factual. Indisputable. Take them at their exact words.
This past Monday marked the 34th anniversary of the takeover of the U.S. embassy in Iran, leading to 52 Americans being held hostage for several months. Contrary to what many analysts thought, and despite the recent “thaw” and optimism considering rapprochement between Iranian authorities and American leaders, tens of thousands of Iranian demonstrators packed the streets outside of the former U.S. embassy in Tehran this year. Hundreds of thousands also demonstrated against Israel and the U.S. in other cities across the country.
The protests were unprecedented in their scale and scope, reported as the biggest anti-U.S. and anti-Israel rally in years. According to Iran’s official media, millions of people participated in these protests and demonstrations around the country, the largest turnout in years.
Additionally, the leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran have designated Nov. 4 as a “National Day against Global Arrogance.” While this week, tens of thousands of Iranians shouted “death to America” and “death to Israel.” The burning of American and Israeli flags permeated throughout the cities. Furthermore, effigies of American President Barack Obama, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry were held up high by protesters….
SIMILARLY, when self-coined PA Arabs (in tandem with Hamas, their “bad cop” partners, and officially part of their terror entity) slaughter Jews, an imperative to destroy Israel, know that their hatred towards America is equally annihilatory. In fact, who recalls PA Arabs dancing and handing out sweets after 9/11/01 jihadists incinerated over 3,000 Americans under the banner of Islam? Their jihad has only gotten worse after years of perfecting their “art”. Think about it.
SO the urgent questions before Israelis and Americans – and the west at large – are: what exactly does Barack HUSSEIN Obama’s backroom deal with Iran’s mullahs portend? and, at the same time, how is PA (jihadi) “statehood” fitting into this same impending prism, both jointly and separately?
IN this regard, aside from Professor Louis Rene Beres, no one is more qualified to address these two synergistic global menaces. This too is a fact. And said qualifier is irrespective of his cornerstone at this site.
Ominously, especially for Israel, Iranian nuclearization and Palestinian statehood are progressing at roughly the same pace. Although this simultaneous emergence is proceeding without any conscious intent or coordinated design, the cumulative security impact upon Israel will still be substantial. Plausibly, and in contrast to more usual geometric orthodoxy, the “whole” of this impact will be considerably greater than the sum of its “parts.” Expressed more precisely, the appearance of Iranian nuclear weapons and “Palestine” will be synergistic.
For Israeli planners, of course, this unique and unprecedented threat should be treated with appropriate intellectual respect. In essence, and contrary to a long-prevailing conventional wisdom, Iran and Palestine do not represent separate or unrelated hazards to Israel. Rather, they delineate intersecting, mutually reinforcing, and potentially existential perils. It follows, unambiguously, that Jerusalem must do whatever possible to remove or diminish expected dangers on both fronts, and also at the same time.
Among other things, Israel will need to further enhance its multi-layered active defenses. As long as incoming rocket aggressions from Gaza, West Bank, and/or Lebanon (Hezbollah) were to remain conventional, the inevitable “leakage” could still be considered tolerable. But once these rockets are fitted with chemical and/or biological materials, any such porosity would quickly prove “unacceptable.”
Facing Iranian nuclear missiles, Israel’s “Arrow” ballistic missile defense system would reasonably require a fully 100% reliability of interception. To achieve any such level of reliability, of course, would simply not be possible. Now, assuming that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already abandoned any residual hopes for a cost-effective eleventh-hour preemption against pertinent Iranian nuclear assets – an altogether credible assumption, at this late time – this means that Israeli defense planners must look instead to deterrence.
Because of the expectedly corrosive interactive effects involving Iranian nuclear weapons and Palestinian statehood, Israel will soon need to update and further refine its existing strategies of deterrence. In this connection, Israel’s leaders will have to accept that certain more-or-less identifiable leaders of these prospectively overlapping enemies might not always satisfy the complex criteria of rational behavior in world politics. In such improbable but still conceivable circumstances, assorted Jihadist adversaries in Palestine, Iran, Lebanon or elsewhere might sometime refuse to back away from contemplated aggressions against Israel.
By definition, moreover, these irrational enemies could exhibit such refusals in thoroughly considered anticipations of a fully devastating Israeli reprisal.
Sooner rather than later, and facing a new and incalculable synergy from Iranian and Palestinian aggressions, Israel will need to take appropriate steps to assure that: (1) it does not become the object of any non-conventional attacks from these enemies; and (2) it can successfully deter all possible forms of non-conventional conflict. To meet this ambitious goal, Jerusalem, inter alia, must retain its recognizably far-reaching conventional superiority in pertinent weapons and capable manpower, including effective tactical control over the Jordan Valley.
In principle, such retentions could reduce the overall likelihood of ever actually having to enter into any chemical, biological, or nuclear exchange with regional adversaries. Correspondingly, Israel should plan to begin to move incrementally beyond its increasingly perilous posture of “deliberate nuclear ambiguity.” By preparing to shift toward prudently selective and partial kinds of “nuclear disclosure” – in other words, by getting ready to take its “bomb” out of the “basement,” and in carefully controlled phases – Israel could better ensure that its relevant enemies will remain sufficiently subject to Israeli nuclear deterrence.
In matters of strategy, operational truth may sometimes emerge through apparent paradox. Israeli planners may soon have to understand that the efficacy or credibility of their country’s nuclear deterrence posture could sometime vary inversely with enemy views of Israeli nuclear destructiveness. However ironic or counter-intuitive, therefore, enemy perceptions of a too-large or too-destructive Israeli nuclear deterrent force, or of an Israeli force that is not sufficiently invulnerable to first-strike attacks, could sometime undermine this deterrence posture.
Also critical, of course, is that Israel’s current and prospective adversaries will see the Jewish State’s nuclear retaliatory forces as “penetration capable.” This means forces that seem assuredly capable of penetrating any Arab or Iranian aggressor’s active defenses. Naturally, a new state of Palestine would be non-nuclear itself, but it could still present a new “nuclear danger” to Israel by its impact upon the more generally regional “correlation of forces.” Thereby, Palestine could represent an indirect but nonetheless markedly serious nuclear threat to Israel.
There is more to be done. Israel should continue to strengthen its active defenses, but Jerusalem must also do everything possible to improve each critical and interpenetrating component of its nuanced deterrence posture. In this bewilderingly complex process of strategic dissuasion, the Israeli task may also require more incrementally explicit disclosures of nuclear targeting doctrine, and, accordingly, a steadily expanding role for cyber-defense and cyber-war. And even before undertaking such delicately important refinements, Israel will need to more systematically differentiate between adversaries that are presumably rational, irrational, or “mad.”
Overall, the success of Israel’s national deterrence strategies will be contingent upon an informed prior awareness of enemy preferences, and of specific enemy hierarchies of preferences. In this connection, altogether new and open-minded attention will need to be focused on the seeming emergence of “Cold War II” between Russia and the United States. This time around, for example, the relationship between Jerusalem and Moscow could prove helpful rather than adversarial.
For Jerusalem, it may even be reasonable to explore whether this once hostile relationship could turn out to be more strategically gainful for Israel, than its traditionally historic ties to the United States. Credo quia absurdum. At this transitional moment in geostrategic time, when Washington may need to align itself with Tehran and Damascus against Islamic State, virtually anything is possible.
It is essential that Israeli planners approach absolutely all prospective enemy threats as potentially interactive or synergistic. Even more specifically, if a soon-to-be-formalized state of Palestine does not readily find itself in the same ideological orbit as Iran – now a distinctly plausible conclusion, especially in view of steadily accelerating Shiite-Sunni fissions in the Middle East – the net threat to Israel could still become more perilous than the merely additive result of its area enemies. In approaching the near simultaneity of Iranian nuclear weapons and Palestinian statehood, Jerusalem must consciously bear in mind that the adversarial “whole” would be greater than the simple sum of its belligerent “parts.”
Louis René Beres (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is Professor of Political Science and International Law at Purdue. He is the author of ten major books, and several hundred journal articles, in the field. Professor Beres’ shorter opinion articles appear in many leading US and Israeli newspapers and magazines, including The Atlantic, US News & World Report, The Jerusalem Post, The Washington Times, and Oxford University Press. In Israel, where his current writings are published by the BESA Center for Strategic Studies, the Institute for Policy and Strategy, and the Institute for National Security Studies, he was Chair of Project Daniel (2003). Dr. Beres’ most recent strategy-centered publications were published in The Harvard National Security Journal (Harvard Law School), The International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, Parameters: Journal of the US Army War College, The Brown Journal of World Affairs, and the Israel Journal of Foreign Affairs.
CLEAR as a bell!