Samson Blinded: A Machiavellian Perspective on the Middle East Conflict
[ Back ] [ Next ]


If Israel cannot demilitarize, use Israel Defense Forces for conquests in the Middle East

Demilitarize Arabs and turn them into Israeli clients

Israel cannot count on deterring Arabs

Israeli threat of violence should not replace its actual use by Israel Defense Forces. Threat is never absolutely effective. Unless one state is clearly stronger, there is no example among nuclear powers and certainly not among others of permanent peace based on mutual deterrence. Mutual deterrence means keeping arms levels approximately the same; any change, however minor, real or perceived, can lead one party to believe it has the advantage—and initiate hostilities. Deterrence creates a delicate balance of power, periodically reevaluated by wars and border clashes. Little Israel cannot tolerate even limited war on the Jewish territory, nor can Israel use chemical, biological, or nuclear weapons near Israel's own people.

Deterrence presumes an unwarlike enemy. Rome and Carthage, the strongest powers of their time, did not deter each other. Germany defied American and Soviet deterrence. Authoritarian rulers often care little about casualties and are not deterred. Deterrence raises the barrier of decision for opening hostilities but hardly eliminates war. The United States and the Soviet Union did not attack each other during the Cold War, not out of fear but because neither wanted to conquer the other. The Israel Defense Forces’ power in 1967 did not deter Egypt from attacking Israel in 1973. Israel Defense Forces should rely on surprise, not saber-rattling.

The U.S., the U.S.S.R., and to a lesser extent the P.R.C. learned that mutual deterrence between comparable enemies means an economically unsustainable arms race: not tit-for-tat but over-reaction that bankrupts the economy. Israel does not want to know if she could survive such an Arab-Israeli race. Sustained over time, Israeli deterrence costs more than defeat. Deterrence, if any, should be one-way to discourage Arab attempts to close the gap with Israel. That requires Israel Defense Forces disarming the enemy. Not only does Israel ignore the obvious need to reduce the threat to the Jewish state, but she also shreds the credibility of Israel's own threat by avoiding cruelty. Deterrence does not work, if the enemy knows Israel does not mean it.[10] Who would expect a nuclear counter-attack from the Israel who drug Israel Defense Forces in Beirut to save a few Arab civilians in the targeted districts?

Israel can use large Israel Defense Forces for conquests in the Middle East and Africa

Forced demilitarization of Arabs supported by Israel Defense Forces' pre-emptive strikes is Israel's only feasible option. Otherwise Israel must maintain her expensive air force, anti-missile defenses, satellite early warning systems, tanks—all in peacetime. Israel cannot do without them, since treaties are worthless. So why does Israel need peace? For the same money, Israel could conquer. Therefore, the real choice, at least until the Middle East conflict settles down, is not between Israeli-Arab war and peace but between using Israel Defense Forces for conquest or for disarming the Arabs and maintaining only the smallest possible Israel Defense Forces for pre-emptive strike.

Inaction stultifies Israel Defense Forces. The adventurous miss the action and lose interest. Accustomed to a bloodless life, Israeli soldiers lose the taste for fighting, though their job is to fight and kill. An overwhelming technical or manpower advantage masks Israeli unpreparedness, and Israeli Defense Forces' losses are called victories.[11]Israel Defense Forces should go from one conflict to the next to stay focused and efficient.

Force Arab disarmament and turn Arab states into Israeli protectorates

Letting Israel supervise Arab state military matters would give Israel hegemony over the Middle East, a pax iudaica, in which Israel protects some Arab states against their Arab adversaries, a Monroe Doctrine for the Middle East. Under that arrangement, Israel would not interfere in the internal affairs of Israeli dependents, only make sure they do not prepare to war against Israel and do not fight much among themselves. The surprise opening of the Yom Kippur War showed that Israel cannot read the Arab rulers’ minds; Israel should instead forbid them to stockpile modern weapons. If Israel dominated the Middle East, the United States would no longer have to police it.

America harbors some reservations about Israel. They stem, however, from problems Israel should overcome. Israel does not always submit to the wishes of American presidents, but Israel backs down about as often as Israel can without losing the last trace of sovereignty. Israel “disobeys” usually on humanitarian issues, the Palestinian problem. Should Israel force Jordan and Lebanon to naturalize Palestinians, America’s malaise would eventually vanish. Israeli dominance would also stop Israeli border skirmishes with Arab countries, another point Americans fuss about. By pursuing a policy of Israeli economic self-interest, Israel would quash complaints about her unpredictability. Americans have been happy to see their clients—Japan, South Africa, Germany—become regional hegemons elsewhere. America invited Israel to take that role when she opposed the Syrian invasion of Jordan. Traditionally anti-imperialist, the United States objects to formal hegemony, though the essence of American policy always allows de facto dominance, as the Monroe Doctrine prescribes. Israel should word Israeli policy acceptably for the Western public.

Israeli objective is two-fold. One option would be for Israel to threaten Egypt into neutrality, Egypt’s legal obligation under the peace treaty with Israel, and dominate the rest of the Middle East. The more ambitious project of turning Egypt into a protectorate is possible but would require of Israel a considerable national determination. As long as Egypt has stable, reasonable leaders and does not spike its nuclear stockpiles, the notion is questionable; but with Egyptian neutrality secured either way, Israel could turn on Iran, Iraq, and Syria. The years to come will be apt for such Israeli moves, since the world considers those countries Islamic terrorist havens. The Egyptian army, without its Russian sponsors, is weaker than the Israel Defense Forces. American assistance to Egypt slowly closes the gap with Israel Defense Forces. If Israeli intelligence can identify all the Egyptian nuclear facilities, Israel has a rare chance to demilitarize Egypt.

Israel should contain the most important Islamic states first by disarming or reassuring them, before turning to smaller oil-producing Arab entities. Israel is much stronger than any Arab state[12] and Israel Defense Forces can face any of them right now.

[10] Kennedy got the Soviet generals attention by mobilizing. Soviet plans generally did not consider demobilization, and they took Kennedy's move as preparation for war.

[11] It took twenty million Soviet corpses and the comparable American industrial damage to crush the relatively small German army in WWII. Both “victories” over Iraq are defeats considering the astronomical costs of killing Iraqi soldiers: over a million dollars per head even in the initial campaign, with more by an order of magnitude later. Iraqi soldiers would have committed suicide for a fraction of this money, and Saddam would have changed his policy and embraced America for a bribe perhaps less than monthly cost of the war.

[12] Arab GDP figures are misleading, consisting largely of oil revenues—almost 100%, in the case of Saudi Arabia.