Israel and Iran at the eleventh hour

In world politics, irrational does not mean “crazy.” It does mean valuing certain goals or objectives even more highly than national survival. In such rare but not unprecedented circumstances, the irrational country leadership may still maintain a distinct rank-order of preferences. Unlike trying to influence a “crazy” state, therefore, it is possible to effectively deter an irrational adversary.

Iran is not a “crazy,” or wholly unpredictable, state. Although it is conceivable that Iran’s political and clerical leaders could sometime welcome the Shiite apocalypse more highly than avoiding military destruction, they could also remain subject to alternative deterrent threats. Faced with such circumstances, Israel could plan on basing stable and long-term deterrence of an already-nuclear Iran upon various unorthodox threats of reprisal or punishment. Israel’s only other fully rational option could be a prompt and still-purposeful preemption.

Picured left - At the time this photo was made, smoke billowed 20,000 feet above Hiroshima while smoke from the burst of the first atomic bomb had spread over 10,000 feet on the target at the base of the rising column (6 August 1945).

Today, a nuclear Iran appears almost a fait accompli. For Israel, soon to be deprived of any cost-effective preemption options, this means forging a strategy to coexist or “live with” a nuclear Iran. Such an essential strategy of nuclear deterrence would call for reduced ambiguity about certain of its strategic forces; enhanced and partially disclosed nuclear targeting options; substantial and partially disclosed programs for active defenses; recognizable steps to ensure the survivability of its nuclear retaliatory forces; and, to bring all of these elements together in a coherent mission plan, a comprehensive strategic doctrine....

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