Published by The Freeman Center
The Maccabean Online
Political Analysis and Commentary
ISRAEL’S SURVIVAL AND THE CHANGING GEOMETRY OF CHAOS
Louis Rene Beres
Professor of Political Science, Purdue University
27 July 2006
“The blood-dimmed tide is loosed,” says the poet Yeats, “and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned.” We humans already coexist uneasily in a rapidly disintegrating world. Soon there may be no safety in arms, no help from political authority, no answers from science. New wars may rage until every flower of culture is trampled, and till all things human are leveled in a vast chaos. The dark ages to come would cover an entire world in a single pall. There would be neither escape nor sanctuary.
Yet, in an apparent paradox, even chaos has a certain order. There is, even in chaos, a kind of axiomatic geometry, and the changing geometry of chaos should now have deeply special meanings for Israel. For Israel, for the prime inheritor of Genesis, there are especially vital lessons to be learned from this expanding global order/disorder. In a strange and unrecognized symmetry, chaos may reveal both sense and form. How shall this meaningful sense and form now be deciphered and understood by leaders of the imperiled Jewish State?
The world, like the individual countries that comprise it, is best understood as a system. What happens in any one part of this system affects what happens in all of the other parts. When deterioration is marked, and begins to spread from one country to another, the effects can undermine international stability in general. Indeed, when deterioration is sudden and catastrophic, as it would be following the start of an expected unconventional war and/or unconventional terrorism, the undermining effects would also be sudden and catastrophic.
The State of Israel, a system of interdependent and interpenetrating parts like every other state, exists precariously in this chaotic world system.. Aware that an incremental collapse of world authority structures will, in one way or another, impact its (few) friends as well as its (many) enemies, leaders of the Jewish State must now advance informed expectations and scenarios of collapse in order to prepare suitable forms of response. Moreover, recognizing that rapid and far-reaching collapse of order will occasion a more or less complete return to "everyone for himself" in world politics, Israel\'s leaders should now carefully consider how they will respond to life in a global "State of Nature." Such consideration is all the more critical to the extent that the triggering mechanism of collapse could originate from now widely-expected chemical/biological/nuclear attacks against Israel.
Chaotic disintegration of the world system, whether slow and incremental or sudden and catastrophic, will strongly impact the Israeli system. In the most obvious manifestation of this impact, Israel will have to orient its strategic planning to a variety of worst-case scenarios, focusing far more on the whole range of self-help security options than on traditionally-favored forms of alliance or collective-security guarantees. More precisely, within the country, diplomatic processes premised on assumptions of Reason and Rationality will have to be curtailed in favor of increasingly obvious limits to "civilization." Here, Israel\'s judgments about ANY "Peace Process" will not be any less important, but they will need to be made in consequence of anticipated global systemic changes. From the standpoint of Israel\'s overall security, such a reorientation of planning - from presumptions of largely separate and unrelated threats to presumptions of interrelated dangers – is needed. It would provide a badly-needed framework for facing the uncertain future. The origin of this framework would be a prior willingness to extract pertinent life or death policy implications from the expanding geometry of chaos.
There is more. Israel\'s particular reactions, as a system within a system, to growing expressions of worldwide chaos, will themselves impact these expressions. For example, should Israel\'s leaders react to seemingly unstoppable anarchy in world affairs by hardening their commitment to all pertinent forms of self-reliance, including appropriate resorts to preemptive military force, Israel\'s enemies would surely respond, individually or collectively, in similarly "self-reliant" ways. What, exactly, are these ways likely to be? And how, exactly, should Israel respond to such responses? These are the essential questions that should now be raised, by Israel\'s planners, as a result of their needed sensitivity to expanding global disintegration. To merely survive, Israel now requires a new understanding of the crucial feedback implications of creation in reverse.
By likening both the world as a whole and their country in particular to the instructive concept of "system," Israel\'s leadership could learn, before it is too late, that states "die" not only because of a direct, mortal blow, but also in consequence of a series of distinctly less than lethal insults. This is because, after a time, even multiple "minor" harms to an organism can create a breakdown of "immunities" that pave the way for life-endangering "pathogens." Taken by itself, any one such minor harm; e.g., a local infection, an injury, an impediment to vision or hearing or memory, will not produce death. Yet, cumulatively, incrementally, over time, these "minor" insults can be fatal, either by affecting the organism\'s overall will to live or by making it possible for a major insult to take place without adequate defense.
Taken by themselves, Israel\'s intermittent surrender of territories, its consequent reluctance to accept certain indispensable preemption options, and its misdirected negotiation of so-called "peace agreements" may not bring about the end of the Third Temple Commonwealth. Taken together, however, these insults, occurring, as they do, within a worldwide pattern of expanding chaos and anarchy, will have a decisively weakening effect on the Israeli organism. Whether the principal effect here will be one that impairs the Jewish State\'s commitment to endure, or one that opens that state to a devastating missile attack and/or to calamitous acts of terror, is altogether unclear. What is clear, and what needs to be asked now, while there is still time, is this: What are the true sense and form of chaos in the world system, and how should this particular geometry of chaos - the geometry of creation in reverse - affect Israel’s strategic planning and survival imperatives.
LOUIS RENE BERES (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) lectures and publishes widely on Israeli security matters. His work is well-known in Israeli political, military, academic and intelligence circles. Professor Beres is Chair of Project Daniel. Prof. Beres is the Academic Advisor to the Freeman Center For Strategic Studies.
E MAIL BERES@POLSCI.PURDUE.EDU