Security Threats and Effective Remedies:Israel’s Strategic, Tactical, and Legal Options

...Israel’s Security Situation: An Overview

Israel's security conditions (the “New World Order”12 and the “New Middle East” notwithstanding) continue to deteriorate. Major threats issue from Syria and Iran13 – especially both countries' development of enhanced missile capabilities, chemical/biological weapons and, for the future, nuclear weapons. The year 1992 marked the twentieth anniversary of the Biological Weapons Convention, which bans the development or production of agents and toxins as well as the means to deliver them “for hostile purposes or in armed conflict”. Yet the line between civilian and military purposes is often vague, and the treaty permits activities that are justifiable for “prophylactic, protective or other peaceful purposes”. Moreover, states can avoid the constraints imposed by the BWC by simply not becoming full parties to the agreement. Iraq, for example, signed the BWC in 1972, but never ratified it.

The Syrian/Iranian threat is also manifested indirectly through their state sponsorship of anti- Israeli terrorism (largely in southern Lebanon, but also in the still-remaining territories and within the Green Line. Moreover, as the territories will soon become another enemy state (an outcome of Oslo and Wye River), “Palestine”14 will generate multiple new dangers to the Third Temple Commonwealth. Israel may sooner or later have little choice but to strike first, however inadequately, against pertinent hard targets in selected enemy states.

When would preemption against enemy military assets be strategically and tactically costeffective? This, of course, would depend on a number of critical variables, including: (a) expected probability of enemy first strikes; (b) expected disutility of enemy first strikes (itself dependent on the nature of enemy weaponry, projected enemy targeting doctrine, and multiplication/dispersion/hardening of Israeli nuclear forces); (c) expected schedule of enemy nonconventional weapons deployment; (d) expected efficiency of enemy active defenses over time (anti-tactical ballistic missile system developments); (e) expected efficiency of Israeli active defenses over time; (f) expected efficiency of Israeli hard-target counterforce operations over time; and (g) expected world community reactions to Israeli preemptions. Efficient enemy active defenses could also pose a “psychological” hazard to Israeli security. This is because enemy perceptions of such efficiency could prompt first-strike attacks against Israel. On the other hand, it is conceivable that these perceptions could occasion feelings of security from Israeli first strikes, thereby reducing enemy incentives to move against the Jewish state. Depending on Israel's own “objective” assessments of enemy ATBM (antitactical ballistic missile) efficiency and of enemy perceptions of this efficiency, Jerusalem may or may not decide to preempt....
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