ISRAEL'S STRATEGIC FUTURE:
by Louis Rene Beres
Professor of Political Science, Purdue University
and Academic Advisor to the Freeman Center for Strategic Studies, Houston, Texas
Prepared Especially for Delivery in Houston, Texas
October 17, 2004
Congregation Beth Yeshuran
Sponsored by: Freeman Center for Strategic Studies; Americans For A Safe Israel; Congregation Beth Yeshurun; United Orthodox Synagogues -------------------
Genocide against the Jews is an old story.....a very old story.
The purpose of Project Daniel - which is the subject of my lecture this evening - is to ensure that the Jewish People never again experience another Holocaust - never again.
"We are often asked," said the late Italian Jew and survivor Primo Levi in THE DROWNED AND THE SAVED, "as if our past conferred a prophetic ability upon us, whether Auschwitz will return...."
However we choose to answer this terrible but unavoidable question, our past seems sometimes to have conferred very little in the way of prophetic or even predictive abilities.
On the contrary, by often deluding ourselves that not seeing is a way of not knowing (e.g., "The Middle east Peace Process"), we have distanced ourselves from indispensable forms of warning.
"Project Daniel" was designed to help us all see.
The purpose of Project Daniel is to go well beyond slogans and sighs of apprehension to strong and sensible action - action that is desperately needed for Jewish survival.
Above all, I will emphasize this evening, it is vital to recall that the re-established State of Israel is always the individual Jew in macrocosm -the Jewish individual writ large - and that this State is now the focus of authentically genocidal intent.
In the minds of the genociders, the Jewish State has now replaced the individual Jew.
Like the individual Jew surrounded by mobs of would-be murderers, the villified Jewish State stands encircled by crowds of other states and by terror groups crying out for its extinction.
In the world of the early 21st century, the State of Israel is the most dangerous place on earth for Jews, as Jews.
In the world of the present moment, this inversion of Zionist dreams for safety is both horribly ironic and altogether intolerable.
That this inversion cannot be permitted to stand is a key rationale of Project Daniel.
Make no mistake about it, the ongoing intent of many Arab/Islamic organizations and states is the mass murder of every Jew in the State of Israel.
And neither the United States nor the United Nations can be relied upon to prevent this from happening.
Above all, we must recall that another Holocaist is distinctly possible -this time in the refashioned form of nuclear and/or biological aggressions against Israel - and that it is our responsibility (Jews and Christians together) to oppose such aggressions with all of our strength and all of our being.
Today, with an undiminished threat of selective Arab and/or Iranian nuclearization, the prospect of a Middle Eastern nuclear war involving Israel is real......very real indeed. Which brings us to the origins of Project Daniel...... --------------
Over the years I have been very closely involved with Israeli nuclear issues.
Lectures in Israel
Consultations at the Embassy
Books and articles
And about a dozen years ago I had a fateful lunch in Tel-Aviv with Yuval Ne'eman - one of the world's leading nuclear physicists and a principal figure in creating Israel's undisclosed nuclear armaments.
At that lunch Yuval Ne'eman and I shared a view that the single most ominous threat facing Israel - a genuinely existential threat - was an enemy (state or non-state) that had acquired nuclear weapons and was also irrational.
In such a dire circumstance, Israeli deterrence, by definition, would be immobilized and the only safe path for Israel would lie in some combination of ballistic missile defense and preemption (defensive first strikes).
The real problem here is that the so-called "safe path" - however fashioned - is itself almost surely unsafe.
Preemption against a capable nuclear adversary (e.g., Iran) would be an operational nightmare.
And ballistic missile defense, however well-perfected (e/g/., the "Arrow") would not be "leakproof."
(About the operational difficulties of preemption, I happened to speak with AMB. David Ivry - IAF Commander during the June 7, 1981 Osiraq raid near Baghdad - on the 20th anniversary of Osiraq.........he made it clear that Osiraq was a picnic in comparison to what Israel faces today.)
So, what is Israel to do?
This was the question that led me first to former Israeli Ambassador Zalman Shoval - with whom I discussed the idea of a special "brain trust" - and then to the five very special individuals who ultimately came to comprise "Project Daniel:"
Maj. Gen./Dr. Itzik Ben-Israel (IDF General Staff)
Director of Development for Weapon Systems/ Ph.D. in Philosophy and Mathematics
Naaman Belkind (sat at Begin's right hand for Osiraq decision)
Israel's atomic energy and intelligence communities/Including Irgun
Dr. Adir Pridor - former head of military analyses for RAFAEL.
Ph.D. mathematician and senior IAF planner
IAF COL (Res.) and Former MK Yoash Tsiddon-Chatto (fighter pilot/test pilot/IAF Chief of Planning)
Dr. Rand Fishbein, President of Fishbein Associaates and former senior Senate staffer.
and myself as Chair.
At our very first meeting we took up the "Beres/Ne'eman thesis," that is, that the greatest danger facing Israel today would be a fusion of nuclear capacity with a willful irrationality (the suicide-bomber in macrocosm).
At that same meeting - the first of several over a two-year period in New York and Washington - we decided that the truly greatest threat - from the standpoint of probability as well as of seriousness - was a "normal" or rational adversary with such WMD capability.
And, from here, we proceeded to study and make pertinent recommendations concerning:
1. "Countervalue" vs. "counterforce" targeting doctrines (no counterforce or war-fighting posture);
2. Proposed yield of countervalue/countercity- targeted missiles (very high-yield, aimed at enemy cities);
3. Identification of target cities;
4. Nuclear ambiguity vs. disclosure (there are clear deterrent benefits from certain limited and controlled forms of disclosure);
5. Importance of multilayered ballistic missile defense systems (including boost-phase interception);
6. A new "paradigm" emphasizing shift from classsical warfighting scenarios to enhanced counterterrorism and expanded protections from WMD warfare;
7. Maintaining (with US help) Israel's "qualitative edge" (Randy's domain, with US Congress);
8. Formal codifications of preemption doctrine (absolute imperative to prevent any enemy state or terror group from acquiring nuclear and certain biological kinds of weaponry)/ Based in part upon "Bush Doctrine" of preemption;
9. Harmonizing Israeli strategic imperatives with pertinent international law (e.g., preemption as "anticipatory self-defense;" and
10. Absolute rejection of nuclear warfighting whenever possible.
Writing in his very first book, NIGHT, Elie Wiesel said: "Everything is possible."
Today, most of the Arab/Islamic world focuses its genocidal hatred on the Jewish State exactly as Europe once focussed this hatred on individual (and stateless) Jews.
There is no greater Jewish responsibility than to prevent a second Holocaust - and it is nothing short of Holocaust that the Arab/Islamic world now wishes for Israel.
Israel is half the size of Lake Michigan.
Just how much of a nuclear beating could it take?
If an Arab/Islamic enemy state were ever to acquire nuclear weapons, it could conceivably calculate - rationally - the expected benefits of a first-strike against "the Zionist entity."
What would be the flesh and blood consequences of such a strike?
Consider the following:
Overwhelming health problems would afflict the survivors of any nuclear attack upon Israel.
These problems would extend far beyond the uncontrollable consequences of prompt burn injuries.
Retinal burns would occur in the eyes of persons as far as several hundred miles from the explosions.
Israelis would be crushed by collapsing buildings and torn to shreds by flying glass.
Others would fall victim to raging firestorms.
Fallout injuries would include whole-body radiation injury; produced by penetrating, hard gamma radiations; superficial radiation burns produced by soft radiations; and injuries produced by deposits of radioactive substances within the body.
After an Arab and/or Iranian nuclear attack, even a "small" one, those few medical facilities that might still exist in Israel would be taxed well beyond capacity.
Water supplies would become altogether unusable.
Housing and shelter could be unavailable for hundreds of thousands, perhaps even millions, of survivors.
Transportation would break down to rudimentary levels.
Food shortages would be critical and long-term.
Israel's complex network of interlocking and interdependent exchange systems would be shattered.
Virtually everyone would be deprived of the most basic means of a livelihood.
Emergency police and fire services would be decimated.
All systems dependent upon electrical power could stop functioning.
Severe trauma would occasion widespread disorientation and psychiatric disorders for which there would be absolutely no therapeutic services.
Normal human society would cease in Israel.
The pestilence of murder and banditry would augment the pestilence of plagues and epidemics.
With the passage of time, many of the survivors would expect an increased incidence of serious degenerative diseases and various forms of cancer.
They would also expect premature death; impairment of vision; and sterility.
Among the survivors of Hiroshima, an increased incidence of leukemia and cancers of the lung, stomach, breast, ovary and uterine cervix has been widely documented.
Many of the delicately balanced relationships in nature would be profoundly upset by the extensive fallout.
Israelis who would survive the nuclear attack would have to deal with greatly enlarged and voracious insect populations.
Like the locusts of biblical times, mushrooming insect populations would spread unimpeded from the radiation-damaged areas in which they arose.
Insects are generally more resistant to radiation than humans.
This fact, coupled with the prevalence of unburied corpses, uncontrolled waste and untreated sewage, would generate tens of trillions of flies and mosquitoes.
Breeding in the dead bodies, these insects would make it impossible to control typhus, malaria, dengue fever and encephalitis.
Throughout Israel, the largest health threat would be posed by the tens or even hundreds of thousands of rotting human corpses.
In many areas of the country, radiation levels would be so high that corpses could remain untouched for weeks or months.
Even if it were operationally possible, in order to bury the dead, areas much larger than Israel's now uninhabitable cities would be needed for the cemetery.
And this is only the tip of the iceberg.
It follows - it follows very plainly - that Israel must now do whatever is necessary to protect itself from enemy nuclear aggressions, including timely preemptive attacks against relevant enemy hard target - even if the risks of failure are formidable.
Also, Israel must prepare for recognizable and massive countercity nuclear reprisals - as a credible deterrent to enemy nuclear attack.
International law is not a suicide pact.
Under authoritative international rules, such expressions of "anticipatory self-defense" and nuclear deterrence could be entirely permissible.
(Even the ICJ has said as much in its Advisory Opinion on nuclear weapons several years ago.)
Israel cannot afford to make the same security mistakes on this existential issue that it made earlier in the Oslo Accords and is now continuing to make with the so-called "Road Map."
Here, in the apocalyptic realm of nuclear weapons and nuclear war, mistakes would be final and unforgiving.
Iran and possibly certain Arab states could even become suicide bombers in macrocosm - willing to strike first even at the risk of absorbing devastating Israeli reprisals.
Tactically and politically, Israeli preemptions would best be conducted in tandem with the United States, but if there should be no alternative to acting alone, solitary defensive strikes against hard targets would be preferable to waiting helplessly for a second Holocaust.
Since the presentation of our original Project Daniel document to Prime Minister Sharon on January 16, 2003 (it remained secret until this past May), there have been a few relatively minor "victories" in the effort to control WMD proliferation among Israel's enemies.
The most obvious case in point - in addition to Iraq - is Libya.
At the same time, the circumstances in North Korea (which has ties to some of Israel's Arab/Islamic enemies), Iran and Pakistan remain very dangerous.
There is also evidence of expanding WMD ambitions in Egypt (so much for formal peace treaties), and Syria has been smuggling components for WMD weapons to Sudan - in an attempt to keep them hidden from outside inspection.
At the level of terrorist groups, which are sustained by several Arab/Islamic states, new alignments are now being fashioned between various Palestinian Organizations and al-Qaeda.
Regarding Iranian nuclearization, there is always a danger that these atomic weapons might be shared with Hezbullah militias in south Lebanon.
Our work in Project Daniel has been based on the following assumption:
Current threats of war, terrorism and genocide to Israel derive from a very clear "clash of civilizations."
These threats are far more than the result of narrow geo-strategic differences.
They stem from religion and culture.
Both Israel and the United States are in the cross-hairs of a worldwide Arab/Islamic "Jihad" that is fundamentally theological/cultural in nature.
This orientation to Jihad will not concede an inch to rational persuasion, to conventional legal norms of "coexistence" or "peaceful settlement."
This situation of existential danger to "unbelievers" is hardly a pleasing one for Jerusalem or Washington, but it is one that must immediately be acknowledged and understood.
In the best of all possible worlds, none of these dreadful scenarios would be plausible, and the tiny state of Israel could rely upon Reason and Justice to forge its secure future.
But we all know that this is hardly the best of all possible worlds. and that Israeli self-reliance is altogether indispensable.
In this connection, it is certainly important that Israel not ever allow itself to be lured into some plan for a regional "nuclear weapon free zone" (an actual proposal these days by prominent Israeli academics; e.g., Zeev Maoz).
Shimon Peres, as Prime Minister, once stated publicly that Israel would be "delighted to give up the atom" if only the entire region would embrace a comprehensive security plan.
It should be perfectly obvious, however, to anyone who thinks clearly, that in a scheme for regional
nuclear renunciation, only Israel would be disarmed.
It is also important, for Israel's survival, that the country prepare to end its policy of nuclear ambiguity on short notice.
If, as we note in Project Daniel, there should be any evidence that enemy nuclearization (state and/or non-state) had taken place, Israel must immediately bring its bomb out of the "basement."
This is because the credibility of Israel's nuclear deterrent in such circumstances would require a clear message that it has both the capacity and the intention to retaliate.
Before an enemy of Israel might be deterred from launching nuclear first-strikes at Israel, it may not be enough that it "knows" merely that Israel HAS the bomb.
It may also need to recognize that these Israeli nuclear weapons are sufficiently invulnerable to such attacks, and that they are aimed at very high-value targets.
In the Project Daniel Report, we recommend that "...a recognizable retaliatory force should be fashioned with the capacity to destroy some 15 high-value targets scattered widely over pertinent enemy states in the Middle East."
This strategy means that Israel's second-strike response to enemy aggressions involving biological and/or nuclear weapons would be directed at enemy POPULATIONS, not at enemy weapons.
At the same time, we assert: "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."
Some of you will be disturbed by Project Daniel reasoning - thinking, perhaps, that it has a hint of "Dr. Strangelove."
Yet, the countervalue targeting strategy recommended by Project Daniel represents Israel's best hope for AVOIDING a nuclear or biological war.
It is, therefore, actually the most humane strategy available.
The very best weapons, the classical military theorist Clausewitz once wrote, are those that achieve their objectives without actually being fired.
This is especially the case with nuclear weapons.
Israel's nuclear weapons can succeed only through non-use.
Recognizing this, Project Daniel makes very clear that nuclear warfighting must always be avoided.
Generally, Jews don't like to be bearers of harm.
Until now, we have generally been victims rather than executioners.
But as much as we should like to be "neither victims nor executioners" (to borrow a phrase from Albert Camus's essay of the same title), this is simply not possible.
The will to mass murder of Jews, as we have learned from so many for so long, remains unimpressed by persistent expressions of Jewish "goodness."
It follows, especially for Israel, that Jewish "executioners" have their rightful place, and that without this place there would be entire legions of new Jewish and non-Jewish sufferers.
Medieval maps often portrayed Jerusalem at the center of the world.
>From the standpoint of nuclear strategy and world peace, such a portrayal >is very valid today.
Confronted with relentlessly genocidal state and non-state enemies, some of which energetically seek weapons of mass destruction, Israel must now fashion a sound strategic doctrine.
This is why the Project Daniel Group first undertook to prepare its unprecedented Final Report to the Prime Minister.
What can you do - you, the concerned Jews and Christians of this great Houston community?
For one, you can remain aware that the State of Israel is always the individual Jew in macrocosm, and that the fate of this Jewish State is therefore still precarious.
For another, you can recall that impending Israeli territorial surrenders must be evaluated along yet another dimension - the dimension of Israel's strategic vulnerability - and that there is therefore yet another reason to oppose these surrenders.
In many critical respects, Israel IS strong and powerful.....and there are many reasons to believe that Israel will certainly prevail.
But it is our individual and collective (and even Talmudic) responsibility not to take this strength and power for granted.
Rather, by facing Israel's existential difficulties squarely we will better ensure Israel's enduring survival.
Apocalypse was pretty much a Jewish invention, but there is now every reason to believe that we can still avoid an apocalyptic future for Israel.