Samson Blinded: A Machiavellian Perspective on the Middle East Conflict

Israel should not allow nuclear weapons to Islamic regimes

Germany started the war, even though the Allies outstripped it economically, in natural resources, and in manpower. How much more likely is heavily armed, fundamentalist, nuclear Iran to start a war with Israel? A few missiles with nuclear warheads or a sea container with nuclear weapons unloaded at an Israeli port would wipe out the Israeli population crowded on the narrow coastal strip of the Jewish state. Buffer zones are useful against Islamic terrorists but not against Arab aircraft or nuclear weapons. Preventing an Islamic nuclear attack is hard but critical to Israeli survival. Neither Israeli anti-aircraft nor anti-missile defenses will provide total security against Arab nuclear weapons; and nothing less than maximum security is acceptable to tiny Israel.

Any large, militarist country - let alone nuclear - is a potential threat to others. Islamic countries in particular have “proven criminal intent,” repeatedly warring on Israel. Israel cannot tolerate the risk posed by Islamic nuclear weapons. Demilitarizing the Muslims is risky for Israel, but to do nothing is suicide, now or in the next generation.

Israel must destroy not only Islamic nuclear weapons and medium- and long-range missile facilities but also the relevant infrastructure of scientists, laboratories, launching pads, and airstrips, without exception, even at the risk of Israeli-Arab war, as in the case of Egypt. Israel lost a chance for Middle Eastern nuclear ban offered in 1976 by Egyptian Prime Minister Ismail Fahmy. Jews fooled the International Atomic Energy Agency inspections of Israel's nuclear reactors before, sealing sections with false walls, and could have continued. In the worst case, Israel could simply conserve her nuclear facilities, or nominally convert them to civilian use, and rest assured by the considerable number of Israeli nuclear weapons hidden.

If Egypt seems stable and unlikely to wage a war on Israel, consider how peaceful Lebanon, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan, Sudan, and many other states were just before a political volte-face, something that happens in autocracies. Israel should at least prepare to strike automatically at Egyptian nuclear facilities the minute a hostile Islamic regime comes to power. But consider that good Egyptian presidents accumulate nuclear weapons for a single bad one. Economically, militarily, and psychologically, it is better that Israel suffer a war with Egypt now than bear the cost of defensive readiness for a nuclear war into the distant future. The West tolerates Chinese nuclear weapons destined for use in Asia; but Egypt, with its nuclear weapons, has no enemy beside Israel, and Israel cannot let Arabs wage wars with nuclear weapons anywhere near Israeli borders. What beside political cowardice prevents Israeli government from confronting the issue sooner rather than later? The world closes its eyes to Islamic countries arming with nuclear weapons, much as it trusted Germany until the outbreak of WWII. Islam is as aggressive as Nazism, with as little reverence for human life.

Israel's another option is to agree to mutual destruction of nuclear weapons and then re-arm secretly, which is how Israel acquired nuclear capability. Discovering a rearmament program in Egypt would be Israel's legitimate reason to strike Egyptian nuclear facilities. Israeli national security is no arena for mythical knightly honesty; actually it is when Israelis make the Islamic enemy conform to idealistic pattern.

When the threat of Islamic nuclear development becomes credible, Israel should strike. Egypt developed its nuclear weapons under the umbrella of American military guarantees, protecting it from Israel. Destroying the Iranian nuclear program now is wiser for Israel than hoping the United States will keep Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and using them against Israel. It is not that Iran would use nuclear weapons against Israel directly: mullahs are not so sure of Ibn Kathir's seventy virgins to rush to paradise through Israeli retaliation. Iranians would pass the nuclear weapons to Islamic terrorists. Iran would not even need to make the transfer; the threat alone would increase Iran’s bargaining power versus Israel's dramatically. The United States could do nothing if Iran threatened to supply nuclear weapons to Al Qaeda: a preemptive strike would not eliminate all the nuclear stocks and would invite nuclear reprisal from Iran against Israel.

Nuclear weapons became the ultimate equalizer of power. How much can the owner of nuclear weapons bargain with Israel for? Quite a lot: North Korea won political and economic concessions by threatening to develop a bomb—and is developing it. Islamic terrorists with several nuclear weapons could force the evacuation of Israelis from the Middle East without serious casualties by detonating one bomb in the Negev and another on a ship fifty miles from New York harbor, and claiming to have others hidden in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem, and Washington, programmed to detonate in forty-eight hours. Suppose a radical Islamic regime threatened distributing nuclear weapons to anti-Israeli buyers or Muslim terrorist colleagues and offered to relent if the United States abandoned Israel. Israel should not let Iran have nuclear weapons, even to be used against against targets other than Israel. Having used nuclear weapons once, Iran would eventually target Israel. The United States does not punish Pakistan for its support of Al Qaeda because Pakistan has nuclear weapons but rather pretends to believe that Pakistan is not involved in Islamic terrorism. Nuclear weapons provide next-to-perfect immunity for sponsoring Islamic terrorism.

Does Israeli-forced nuclear disarmament bring on an otherwise unlikely confrontation? The question is not if nuclear confrontation with Israel is likely but if the Islamic terrorists are likely to get nuclear weapons. The A-bomb is based on technology everyone, including Muslims, understands. Its important parts are available from private firms for civilian purposes. Underpaid servicemen guard the nuclear stockpiles of irresponsible regimes with a proven record of supporting Islamic terrorists. Who in his right mind can say the Islamic terrorists will not get nuclear weapons and fairly soon? Some nuclear states might be coerced or bribed into cooperation, but once Islamic terrorists use nuclear weapons, countries will be reluctant to give those practical weapons up. Forced disarmament is risky, but it eliminates loose nuclear weapons that threaten Israel. Leaving things to their own devices accumulates the risk to Israel perpetually: after the first nuclear explosion in Israel, more are probable.

A nuclear strike against the United States or Israel in response to Israeli demand for the disarmament of a minor nuclear power is unlikely, since one or two bombs would not wound America critically but would elicit an overwhelming response. Israel's best bet is a pre-emptive strike against all possible nuclear storage facilities and a simultaneous airborne assault to capture the enemy leader and military officials, torturing them in Israel to reveal loose stocks swiftly.

Israel might effect nuclear disarmament by non-military measures. Buy-out programs should offer immunity and exorbitant payments for fissile material to black market operators, rising the tag beyond Islamic terrorists’ abilities. Even a billion dollars per nuclear head is a price to pay to clean up stolen weapons which would used otherwise against Israel.