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Revolutionizing the military education

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War amongst people is not a better paradigm than interstate industrial war, it is simply different – and understanding difference, and accepting it, must become a central part of our away ahead. (SMITH, 2008, p. 374)

1. Introduction

The military post-modern era has brought, according to Moskos et al. (2000), new threats and challenges to the most relevant Armed Forces, mainly after the Cold War.

In the military, post-modernism refers to the new operational scenario framed by the Revolution in Military Affairs (MOSKOS, WILLIAMS, SEGAL, 2000), which is based upon technical and sociocultural changes that have been confronting military organizations today. Thus, amongst the main elements that characterize the Revolution in Military Affairs are the development and use of technical and technological means; interaction between civilians and military personnel; change of the missions from conventional combat operation to humanitarian missions with low intensity; multilateral actions under the auspices of international organisms; and internationalism of military forces. All these facts have been proving that the tendency of war has really changed, as General Rupert Smith has pointed out recently. (2008)

This study focuses on sociocultural changes required by this new operational context, emphasizing the role of education and training of military personnel in order to better benefit from technical and technological means. It also highlights that if influence of technology on tactics, operations, doctrine, planning, equipment and training of military formations is often to be considered dependant on financial possibilities, opportunity costs of developments and acquisitions; on the other hand, the impacts of technology on these issues are also dependent on investments in military education to develop and appropriately use technology and technical means to deploy in post-modern scenarios.

In developed countries, technological advances are based on educational systems that allow the transference of new studies and researches, products, information systems and knowledge into social, cultural, economical and scientific development. On the contrary, countries that choose not to face the challenges imposed by education are still under technological threat, dependency and decisions. China and India had chosen to invest in education and the positive results were already reported by the Central Intelligence Agency (2006), proving the relevance of such investment in either civil or military settings.

One possible way to provide educational opportunities for under-developing nations to face the challenges and fill in their educational gaps is to promote partnerships between civil and military Higher Educational Institutions (HEI). This initiative fosters the development of projects and stimulates each other towards implementing sociocultural and technological advances that serve civilian as well as military purposes.

In Brazilian army this initiative had been already taken, thus civil and military HEI have been working on academic projects which aim to bring up civilians to discuss National Defence and Security with military personnel through official partnerships already established between Brazilian Ministry of Defence and Ministry of Education (BRASIL, 2005).

To face this challenge, the Brazilian army Command and General Staff College has just created an Institute named Instituto Meira Mattos (IMM), which will gather civil and military academicians willing to taking a post-graduate course on National Defence, therefore promoting academic partnerships to enrich and strengthen the debates on National Defence and Security within Brazilian society.

Since the need to establish these partnerships is already implemented, it is time to think about theoretical and methodological educational policies and practices to underpin these initiatives. In this direction, the framework of multiculturalism (MCLAREN, 1997; 2000) in military educational settings should be considered to support post-modern environments in which soldiers operate today, mainly because as General James N. Mattis1 had noticed “we have to diminish the idea that technology is going to change warfare. [because] War is primarily a human endeavor.” (MATTIS apud BORUM, 2012, p. 35) Thus, human terrain and its sociocultural dimensions should be deeply considered in military educational arena to provide the development and better use of technical and technological means and their influence on tactics, operations and doctrine,

Curricular policies and practices as well as technology rely on cultural, political and conservative contexts, especially in military settings where decisions will directly influence on tactics, operations, doctrine and on individuals. Therefore, to convince high commanders of the need to implement sociocultural changes in military education has been a challenge for the organization to overcome, as pointed out in an interview I had with a Dutch soldier.

It has not always been easy to convince the military (from general to rank-and-file) of the need to include cultural training in the military curriculum. But after several military operations abroad (from 1992 onwards: Bosnia, Kosovo, Kampuchea, Ethiopia-Eritrea, Iraq and Afghanistan) the message is now well-understood. (2009)

Guided by the theoretical framework of multiculturalism (MCLAREN, 1997; 2000) and peace studies (GALTUNG, 1990), the present study emerged from my doctoral thesis (COSTA, 2009) and was guided by a qualitative research (DENZIN & LINCOLN, 2000) I had recently conducted.

This research relies on a case study developed at Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Training Center (CI Op Paz), which was recently evolved into Peacekeeping Operations Joint Center (CCOPAB),2 proving that the nature and demands of the missions today have required more enlarged educational perspectives. To accomplish this research a documental and discursive analysis was done, mainly interviews held with soldiers who deployed in different peacekeeping missions as well as the speeches of the actors who are in charge of their training.

The study had proved it is a need to (re)think the extent to which Brazilian army is preparing their human resources to face the sociocultural challenges for deploying in post-modern scenarios (COSTA & CANEN, 2008), chiefly military personnel prepared at CCOPAB, due to the multidimensional and multicultural demands of peace missions today.

As a result, this study sought to guide decision makers towards solving the opposing tension between invention and innovation in military education and training, pointing out the most appropriate educational practices to support soldiers to deal with the sociocultural challenges and demands required by the Revolution in Military Affairs.

In fact, Lastro & Cassiolato (2003) had highlighted that “[…] more serious than not having access to new technologies and information is not to have enough knowledge to use them.” (p. 12). However, the research problem I carry out is that what if we have full access to knowledge and information, technologies and technical means, but do not deeply consider that

[…] understanding the human dimension of a conflict is critically important. There is much more to the human dimension than knowing an adversary’s culture. Even a deep grasp of culture and social dynamics is not sufficient to win a war (though a deficient understanding may be enough to lose one). (BORUM, R., 2011, p. 36, our marks)

In broader educational terms, I argue it is also a need to consider that the lack of access to new information and technology for underdeveloping countries would increase the actual inequalities between developed and emerging countries and contributes even more to separate these countries in terms of technology and information (AROCENA & SUTZ, 2003), chiefly now when instant, surgical and segregated wars have been considered a privilege of technologically and economically dominant nations. (CASTELLS, 1999)

In this direction, it is desirable to any national educational strategy seeking to minimizing social exclusion to promote education (either civil or military), towards providing opportunities to learn, select and use appropriately not only information but technology, as well as enlarging students’ perceptions on human sociocultural dimensions. The partnerships between civil and military Higher Educational Institutions that have been promoted by Brazilian Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Education is an example of a fruitful avenue that may lead to minimize educational gaps in terms of technology, advances and transference as well as in terms of developing the better competences to provide their use in new operational scenarios.

2. Multiculturalism: A Methodological and Theoretical Approach for Military Education  

As already mentioned, a qualitative research investigation directed our methodological path (DENZIN & LINCOLN, 2000), through the undertaking of a case study, which relies on interviews and documental analyses. Interviews were held with military personnel who had experienced being in peacekeeping operations to know their perceptions acting within multidimensional/multicultural scenarios as well as those in charge of their training. This strategy of inquiry is especially relevant to research in educational fields because it allows acknowledging actors’ and agents’ different perspectives and voices. On the other hand, documental analysis provides information to the extent to which a Brazilian military educational institution that prepares troops for peacekeeping operations has taken into account their sociocultural/multicultural needs, other than operational ones. This analysis has been undertaken so as to gauge how far the curriculum has been (or has not been) imbued with a multicultural direction.

That is arguably relevant due to the constant interaction of those troops with different nationalities, cultures, values and languages during military missions. As a result, it becomes important to draw special attention upon strategies and policies adopted to govern or manage the problems of culturally plural societies. In this case, educational strategies and policies for soldiers training to deploy in multicultural scenarios, aggravated by ethnical, religious, cultural conflicts and threats imposed upon those which are not technologically and economically dominant (CASTELLS, 1999).

This study was guided by McLaren’s perspective (2000) towards critical multiculturalism (more recently referred to as post-colonial/revolutionary multiculturalism or emancipatory multiculturalism), which promotes concern about the danger of cultural homogenization in educational policies and practices, seeking to explore curricular and evaluative strategies which challenge ethnocentrism and prejudices. This way, multiculturalism is understood as minorities’ responses to cultural homogenization.

The theoretical distinction between the terms multicultural and multiculturalism according to Hall (2000) is also considered in this study since it conceives that

[…] multi-cultural is used adjectivally. It describes the social characteristics and problems of governance posed by any society in which different cultural communities live together and attempt to build a common life while retaining something of their ‘original’ identity. By contrast, ‘multiculturalism’ is substantive. It references the strategies and policies adopted to govern or manage the problems of diversity and multiplicity which multi-cultural societies throw up. It is usually used in the singular, signifying the distinctive philosophy or doctrine which underpins multi-cultural strategies. ‘Multi-cultural,’ however, is by definition plural. (p. 209-210)

The multicultural approach adopted here underpins Castell’s interpretation of globalization which pinpoints that instead of developing efforts and results towards science and technology, globalization; on the contrary, has developed a national concentration of these activities which has been shared between those countries technologically advanced (CASTELL, 1999).

In this direction, education plays a special role, chiefly because as Castell (op. cit.) points out, we have witnessed the effects of globalization which has deeply increased sociocultural and economical differences amongst countries and regions in place of minimizing them. Lastros & Cassiolato (2003) also throw lights on the need to invest in education, since they pinpoint the role of innovation and its impact on technical, institutional and social dimensions as a survival and competitive organizational strategy. However, these authors highlight that the process of innovation requires knowledge and ability to learn, incorporate and use it.

At this point, I argue a Revolution in Military Education (our mark) is also required since the Revolution in Military Affairs has not deeply considered and highlighted it yet; otherwise, military organizations will run the risk of being dependant on financial possibilities and opportunity costs of developments and acquisitions as well as on the evaluation of the extent to which new or modern pedagogical practices are innovative or inventive to accomplish contemporary military training. Therefore, military specialization to develop and use technology and technical means should be nurtured as well as military pedagogical and curricular policies / practices to confront the challenges imposed by new contexts.

In this horizon, educational practices should be especially developed to offer military personnel opportunities to rehearse political and intellectual competences, which are considered to be the main challenges imposed upon education since the end of the XX Century. (LIBANEO, 2001)

Align with this context, the commander of Brazilian army’s general guidelines for 2011-2014 period (BRASIL, 2011), stressed the competences and skills expected from Brazilian soldiers, such as:

(…) to implement educational competences to contextualize the teaching in order to link knowledge and technologies to decisions and performances in a variety of situations (..) to create courses for civilians at the staff college (…) to enlarge the exchange with civil academia. (BRASIL, 2011, p. 19)

With the release of these guidelines together with Brazilian National Defense Policy (2005) and Brazilian National Defense Strategy (2008), key words such as integration of Brazilian army with the nation, interaction with civil academic community and interoperability between the Armed Forces have been discussed in military educational settings and some relevant initiatives have been taken to attend these needs.

As a result, the exchange between civil and military Higher Educational Institutions should be nurtured to integrate military schools and training centers, seeking to provide sociocultural competences and skills to better equip military formations in the 21st Century.

To prove this need some excerpts from a documental analysis of a military curriculum from Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Joint Center and interviews held with military personnel directly involved with peacekeeping missions will be presented.

2.1. Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Joint Center: multicultural oriented concerns in the subject plan

The Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Joint Center develops different courses for military personnel. Within the limits of this article, the focus will be on the preparation of soldiers, mainly troops, staff officers and military observers. The first ones because they represent a group that is always in touch with local population in a tense and stressing context, allowing us to witness their cultural difficulties and opportunities that arose in those situations. The other groups were chosen due to the fact that the real ‘weapon’ they carry in peacekeeping missions is their ability to strategically manage, negotiate and otherwise nonviolently respond to conflicts.

Those groups of soldiers need preparation for dealing with the multicultural dimensions of their missions, with all associated implications, having arguably to particularly acquire multicultural competencies that allow them to manage conflicts in a peaceful perspective.

The study realized that the curriculum of the referred Center is mostly operational in essence.

It is operational. Not only operational, as I told you, the focus on combat operations was higher, straight on combat operations, because we realized the troop should be prepared to the worst situation. Now it has changed. We are aware that the situation may suddenly spoil the personnel have to have these tools […]. (interview held with the Head of the Doctrine Division of CCOPAB, 10 mar. 2008)

However, some parts of it do mention multicultural concerns. Below there are some excerpts of the curriculum that evidence some of the discourses presented in the documentation. In fact, the course has specific purposes, in which culturally oriented sensitivities emerge, such as:

describe the importance of cooperation and integration of components in a mission; understanding the relationships and roles of the different components; recognizing the consequences of inappropriate actions to the rules / standards of conduct; recognizing the importance of different cultural events in the peace operations; understanding the various cultural contexts; develop skills for working in multicultural environments; identify the principles of civil-military coordination; indicate the skills of communication and negotiation; identify how to develop the relationship with the press in the Missions of Peace; identify the impact that exists in their respective roles [men and women] to building peace; describe how to handle tense domestic situations amongst the team members in a multicultural and multinational environment; raise awareness of the situations that can happen when individuals from different cultural and political environments live for long periods together; explain the main concepts related to the multicultural environment; describe and explain the main concepts of loyalty and respect in the team’s place; use appropriate language according to various situations. (CCOPAB’s subject plan, 2009)

In order to develop the curriculum, the Department of Peace Keeping Operations (DPKO) provides Standard Generic Training Modules (SGTM)3 to all Centers in the world in charge of soldiers’ preparation to peace operations and these are the modules that have been presented during the course under study. Due to the limits of this article, we will focus only on the subject plan; however, in previous work (COSTA & CANEN, 2008) we had also analyzed the intentions expressed in the following ones, due to their intimate connection to our research theme: SGTM 5 (about the code of conduct), and SGTM 11 (about communication and negotiation). SGTM 5 deals with the “Attitudes and Behaviors of the United Nations Peacekeepers” and is further divided into the following sub-modules: 5A- ‘Code of Conduct, 5 B- ‘Cultural Awareness’, 5C- ‘Gender & Peacekeeping’ and 5D- ‘Child Protection’.

Some of the curriculum topics of those modules seem to be clearly underlied by multicultural perspectives more aligned to a folkloric approach, valuing cultural diversity, but silencing cultural conflicts and prejudices, as expected in more critical, post-colonial multicultural perspectives. (MCLAREN, 2000; HALL, 2003; 2004)

Indeed, as could be noted in the documentation, some of the objectives clearly point to a multicultural awareness, emphasizing the need to understand cultural diversity in order to act in culturally disparate situations which touches on a broad multicultural perspective (MCLAREN, 1997; HALL, 2003). However, it does not seem to explicitly incorporate the discussions and concepts related to multiculturalism embedded by tensions present in critical, post-colonial and post-modernized perspectives, drawing upon an understanding of identity as an historic, social and cultural construction in contrast to an intrinsic character to be revealed. (MCLAREN, 2000)

It seems to be clear from the above excerpts that issues such as communication and negotiation, understanding of different cultures and languages, as well as a perspective of empathy towards ‘the other’ are present, indicating multicultural sensibilities (CANEN & COSTA, 2007; CANEN & CANEN, 2011). However, a more explicit and concrete mention of multicultural would be likely to contribute to a better understanding and incorporation of these instructions, arguably enriching and strengthening the preparation of the military agents for peacekeeping missions as well as other operational missions.

By the above illustration, we can infer that the curriculum of CCOPAB has the potential for a multicultural training for soldiers; however, those excerpts seem to convey the idea that the curriculum touches on more abstract multicultural terms, even though at some points prejudices and discriminations are mentioned.

At least, at the level of intentions, the curriculum points out the importance of cultural issues in an era marked by the expansion and the complex nature of modern peace operations. It reminds its readers that peacekeepers represent the United Nations and their own countries; therefore, a positive or negative attitude will impact directly on the mission success.

2.2. Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Joint Center (CCOPAB): multicultural potential and limits in soldiers’ perspectives

The importance of mediation in conflict resolution is strictly connected to a multicultural attitude towards those perceived as different, highlighting the straight imbrications of multiculturalism. Bearing that in mind, we have also analyzed how the curriculum of the CCOPAB has been mediated by those who were targeted by it. We have therefore tried to glean the sense made of that preparation by Brazilian military personnel who had experienced different peace missions, including the following ones: the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH); the United Nations Angola Verification Mission (UNAVEM III); and the United Nations Protection Force (UNPROFOR), in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Interviews held with those subjects were instrumental in conveying their feelings, needs and challenges. It is important to note that the interviewees included soldiers, who carry out given orders, up to generals and commanding staff, in the political and strategic planning of the missions. For ethical reasons, their names were omitted in this narrative.

In the limits of the present paper, some of the answers provided by the interviewees should give a glimpse of their ideas concerning the extent to which they felt the curriculum of CCOPAB in the Brazilian Army helped them feel prepared to act in disparate cultural contexts. Initially, most of them seemed to believe in the natural “knack” of Brazilian military agents towards understanding cultural diversity and effectively dealing with it (COSTA & CANEN, 2008), regardless of multicultural education:

[…] Brazilian people have always been a little bit extroverted […] it’s not the characteristic of other people […] they are more serious people […], they are closed up […] This question of maintaining security is a positive aspect, but it is a bigger issue that includes Brazil as a whole […]. However, smaller actions such as social-civilian activities, contact with the people, day-by-day constant talking, helps to make them [the host country] feel Brazil as a friend country that is there [in Haiti] to help. (soldier 1, from MINUSTAH).

Others; however, felt the need to express their feelings as related to the curriculum of the Center in terms of the extent to which they felt some aspects could be worked out more intensely for a multicultural perspective:

I think it would have been interesting if we had worked with those concepts [of respect, for instance] right away in the course, independently of the peace mission […]. We should have known the reality [cultural one] we would have to face, and that really would have made things easier […]. If one can make this preparation [cultural one] […], it would be excellent. (soldier 1, from MINUSTAH)

As shown by the above excerpts, it seems that despite having developed their own strategies to deal with cultural differences, the military personnel interviewed have expressed their feelings about the relevancy of being adequately be prepared to act in operations where they are exposed to cultural plurality in their daily routines. The above data seem to point out that a more structured preparation could boost their efficiency in dealing with cultural plurality, and could represent an asset to the Brazilian Army curriculum development. Even though some of the topics the interviewees pointed as lacking in their preparation were present in the curriculum objectives, as briefly discussed in the previous section, it seems to be clear they were not highlighted in curriculum practices and mediations.

This seems to be understood by the subjects of the study, as plainly expressed in the following excerpts:

[…] to listen is very difficult […]. If everybody learns to listen, there won’t be struggles, but we, in general, do not know to listen […]. It’s country “a” wishing to impose itself on country “b”, country “c” imposing itself on country “d”, and so on […]. I think the idea that must underlie [our preparation] is exactly to accept the differences […]. (soldier 1, from MINUSTAH)

[…] I think the Army should develop a programme towards reinforcing this conception [respect and acceptance towards the different] […] not everybody has this experience of respecting another culture. In some ways, we could also integrate people’s cultural backgrounds to the scientific, more organized, more directed knowledge. If we adjust these two factors, we can improve our performance in order to have the soldiers doing it consciously rather than unconsciously. (soldier 8, from MINUSTAH)

Other testimonies of soldiers about the curriculum can be important at this point:

There is a 50 minute instruction. It is mainly theoretical: do like that, culture is this, it is that […]. There aren’t practical exercises […]. There should be someone from another culture who could be there for a programme […]. What happened was a 50 minute theoretical instruction about this [cultural issue] (soldier 1, from MINUTASH).

I think soldiers should have been advised on the following lines: you are going to a mission where there are problems which you will not solve as you are used to, but you will have to solve them, even by not really solving them […] (soldier 4 from MINUSTAH)

[…] I think we should have had a more complete study: we should have studied the culture of the country where we have to act, the culture of the political parties there, we should know deeply the history of the conflict, all regional problems […]. All that cultural part should have been known. (soldier 7, of UNAVEM III)

It would have been interesting […] to talk to the trainees exactly what they are bound to face, in terms of challenges and cultural aspects…surely there are many aspects that won’t be the same among the countries, but those pieces of information are important in order for us not to have a cultural shock. (soldier 5, from MINUSTAH)

We can also, in some way, join what the person has in his/her cultural background with knowledge. I mean scientific knowledge, more organized, more directed. If we adjust these two factors, we can improve this performance so the person does it consciously, not unconsciously. (soldier 1, from MINUSTAH)

As can be noted, even though the soldiers recognize the relevance of the techniques and the training received, they seem to wish that the curriculum should emphasize more the multicultural dimensions in a more concrete way. However, that seems to be on the way of improvement, as it was explained to me by the actual main mediator of the curriculum development in the referred Center, in a recent visit. In fact, the following excerpts should be useful in providing an illustration of that progress, in terms of curriculum development, as explained by its main mediating actor:

We have come to the conclusion that […] the soldier is not the only component: there also are the civilians, who are in the day-to-day peace keeping operation, who face the routines, the difficulty of the use of foreign language, and a lot of other things. […] So, during the training, we set up 04 (four) concurrent fiction case incidents in which we took civilian students from the International Relations Course of a University in Sao Paulo, as well as journalists from another one […]. In those simulated situations, when a soldier made a mistake, or took the wrong decision, got “shot” or “killed” the commander, the journalist was there to show the news, the international relations person to report and analyse, and, this way, all the wheel moved […]. The exercise became smart. That made a very big change and, from there, with other troops, we worked the same way […]. When you get the soldier to be the “actor”, even without wearing his uniform, if I put him/her in front of a colonel, he/she has never seen in his/her life, he/she will make a mistake…but together with journalists, he/she will become coerced to question, even because the profile of the journalist is completely different. (…). All of our exercise is in the street, is contextualized […]. I think our ability to interact, of having several players […], should be a competitive advantage of our own, as compared to some of other centers that prepare soldiers to peacekeeping missions […]. The evolution of the curriculum was done inasmuch as things started to become more structured. (interview held with the Head of the Education Division of CCOPAB, 10 mar. 2008)

Some areas, some professionals who are doing research in masters and doctorate courses are researching something that we are interested in (…). If this information get here to us tabulated, done […]. I consider it extremely relevant. […] Suddenly, we are also going to contribute to the study of an academician […] it will let him/her improves his/her research. (interview held with the Head of the Doctrine Division of CCOPAB, 10 mar. 2008)

If it were to include a subject for those who are going to such mission environment, it would be towards the cultural dimension of that country. It makes things much easier […] to emphasize on the cultural history of that country (…) a class, a class period, talking about cultural aspects of that country and giving tips that may be followed by those who are there in mission, to have a really better relationship performance, taking care of cultural aspects, as some training centers outside Brazil already do […] focusing on culture. Point out cultural awareness aspects. Provide a lecture on cultural aspects of the country [referring to the relationship of those in mission with the local population). (interview held with the Head of the Education Division of CCOPAB, 10 May 2012)

The above excerpts seem to point out to a much more integrated, cross-culturally informed curriculum practice, in line with many of the feelings previously expressed by the interviewees as related to the need to be culturally trained to face situations from different perspectives. Another excerpt from the above curriculum mediator also highlights the development of a more culturally informed approach to curriculum development, touching on other markers of identity, such as gender power relations, as can be noted in the following discourse:

Now sexual abuse, gender, and cultural awareness are discussed, towards a more humanitarian approach (…). Haiti has moved from peace enforcement, which had started with the United States, towards our action which has begun with peacekeeping, moving now towards peace-building. The big focus now is on the humanitarian support, how to live with these ‘guys’ […] hence the idea of the Center is to launch this course, the C3M – operation and civil-military coordination – because it is important that our soldiers begin to understand how to deal with the civilian and the humanitarian agencies.” (interview held with the Head of the Education Division of CCOPAB, 10 mar. 2008)

As depicted in the document analysis and interviews, it seems that albeit a concern with cultural issues and their implications for peace operations in the preparation of soldiers is present in the curriculum of the Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Joint Center (undoubtedly a positive feature of the case study), there is still a need of a more structured, academic and systematic reflection. The fact that our last visits to that Center showed increased sensitivity to multicultural aspects is undoubtedly a very welcome and auspicious feature, the importance of having military agents adequately and competently prepared for acting in multicultural scenarios is a necessity yet.

As shown earlier, Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Joint Center has been improving its curriculum in a multicultural sense, as briefly illustrated by the excerpts of two high level trainers earlier on in this paper. It seems to be much more aware of the relevance of multicultural issues in the preparation of military agents, which has contributed to the establishment of some partnerships between the referred Center and Higher Educational Institutions (HEI), in order to help with culturally-contextualized activities during pre-deployment. We consider that as a positive step and look forward to the strengthening of stronger partnerships that could take multiculturalism produced in the HEIs on board. That could surely help to promoting transformational educational practices both in military and civilian education contexts, towards a more multicultural and peaceful perspective.

3. Conclusion

The present study focused on sociocultural changes required to prepare soldiers to face the challenges imposed by the Revolution in Military Affairs, pointing out the role of education and training of military personnel in a multicultural approach in order to better benefit from the development of technical and technological means. The study aimed at emphasizing the need to invest in education to develop and appropriately use technology and technical means to deploy in post-modern scenarios.

Based on the collected data, it was noted it is necessary to provide educational opportunities for Brazilian military personnel to face the challenges imposed by the new operational environment. One possible alternative is to promote partnerships between civil and military Higher Educational Institutions (HEI), since it fosters the development of projects and stimulate each other towards implementing sociocultural and technological advances that serve civilian as well as military purposes. Another way evidenced through the interviews held with military personnel was the need to develop a systematized cultural training for depĺoyment of soldiers in multidimensional and multicultural scenarios.

In this direction, it was realized that a Revolution in Military Education (our mark) is already taking place, mainly within Brazilian Process of the Transformation of the Army (BRASIL, 2011), as the guidelines of Brazilian Army Commander had highlighted already. Therefore, it is the intention of this research to re-visit Brazilian Peacekeeping Operations Joint Center in the future. It is to figure out the extent to which its curriculum and the perception of the actors and agents directly involved with the preparation/training for peace missions have expanded towards a multicultural perspective in more engaged critical and post-colonial approaches. As a result, I intend to enlarge this research to operational environments, other than peacekeeping operations, mainly because as Sir Rupert Smith (2008) has highlighted “war amongst people is not a better paradigm than interstate industrial war, it is simply different – and understanding difference, and accepting it, must become a central part of our away ahead.” (p. 374)

Defense

The Future of The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the QUAD) Grouping Explained

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The Quadrilateral Security Dialogue (the Quad) comprises four counties, Australia, India, Japan, and the United States. It was founded in the year 2007 by Shinzo Abe, the prime minister of Japan. The initiation of the dialogue was supported by Dick Cheney and John Howard, the then USA vice president and the Prime Minister of Australia, respectively. Manmohan Singh, the then Prime Minister of India, also took part in the quad grouping initiation process (Gale & Shearer, 2018). The informal strategic dialogue was formed with a common objective of ensuring and supporting an open, free, and prosperous Indo-Pacific region through the minimization of China’s influence. The paper’s primary purpose is to discuss why the quadrilateral security dialogue is currently common on the news by describing the group’s new activities that have attracted media attention.

Quad Nations and China

United States of America

Given the increasing influence of China in East Asia, United States sees the Quad Nations coalition as a chance to gain back its declining power in the Indo- Pacific. The nation describes Russia and China as tactical rivals in the strategy to promote National security.

Australia

               The country is highly disturbed by China’s growing interests in its politics, land, infrastructure, and influence on its learning institutions. Despite Australia being part of the quad grouping, the country has maintained its commitment to the partnership with China because of its high dependence on China for economic prosperity.

Japan

               Japan has shown concerns about the territorial transgression of China in the region. However, the country cannot break its ties with China because the trade volume between the two nations is the key contributor to the growth of the Japanese economy. Therefore, the country is trying out ways to balance its territorial concerns and economic needs by preserving its relationship with China while at the same time joining the quad grouping.

India

               The violation of international norms by China, especially by constructing military facilities in the South China Sea, affects India negatively. Considering China’s critical role in India’s economic development, the country has preserved its commitment to strategic autonomy to China despite being a member of the quad grouping.

Reasons Behind Quad’s High Media Attention

               Quad groping started attracting high media attention when it came back to life on November 12, 2017, by forming a quadrilateral coalition to counter the aggressive behavior of China in the Indo-Pacific region. The group held its first meeting after the rebirth one day before the ASEAN Summit, which was attended by officials from the Ministries of External Affairs of all member countries. Australia, Japan, and India issued alternate statements citing the Indo-Pacific as the central debate area. The group agreed to expand cooperation to maintain respect for international law and rule-based order in tactically vital regions (O’Neil & West, 2020). The countries agreed that an open, free, inclusive, and prosperous Indo-Pacific would positively impact the nations’ interests in the area and those of the entire world. The officials also shared ideas on tackling common propagation linkages and terrorism affecting the region, among other discussions. They also shared views on the best ways to use present-day technology to enhance connectivity. The meeting attracted significant media attention and has activated close follow-up by different media stations of all the group’s activities.

               Director generals from the four countries of the Quad group met officially for the second time in 2018 after the dialogue was reinitiated. The officials discussed ways to meet their shared objectives in development and connectivity, humanitarian assistance, regional security, maritime corporation, and disaster relief. Another complementary meeting was again held between the Quad countries, where joint secretaries heading American and East Asia were the attendees. The participants reassured their support for an open, accessible, inclusive, and prosperous Indo-Pacific Region. Members again confirmed their joint commitment, built on shared principles and values to ensure order in the Indo-Pacific.

               News about the Quad grouping was at its peak from March 12, 2021, after the US, Australia, India, and Japan conducted a virtual meeting because of the current Coronavirus pandemic. The leaders agreed to work as a unit to stop China’s rising influence in the Indo-Pacific and tackle the Covid pandemic. Quad members spoke about their plans to function alongside the World Health Organization to make Covid-19 vaccines available to more than one billion people in the Indi-Pacific region. With the Australian logistics competence, the United States’ technology, Indian manufacturing, and the Japanese financing, Quad members are confident with their plan of creating as many Covid-19 vaccines as possible to supply among their target population (Satake, 2020). Besides China’s aggressiveness and Covid-19, the members also agreed to work together to address climate change. The group also reiterated its assurance to denuclearize North Korea and encouraged the restoration of the democratic election of public members to the government in Myanmar.

Conclusion

               The member states started the quad grouping, majorly to protect their territories and limit China’s dominance. The group has grown to attract significant attention, not only in the media but also worldwide. Besides the limitation of China’s reign, the quadrilateral security dialogue has and is still making substantial contributions in tackling the current Coronavirus pandemic, which has had devastating impacts worldwide. The group has turned out to advocate for a more peaceful, free, prosperous, and inclusive world.

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Defense

United States- Iran Nuclear Crises: Portents for Israel

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ABSTRACT: In response to former US President Donald J. Trump’s unilateral American withdrawal from the July 2015 Iran Pact (JCPOA),[1] the Islamic Republic of Iran accelerated and reinvigorated its military nuclear program. More recently, nuclear talks between the two countries were re-started by President Joseph Biden, but are expected to be placed on hold until after Iran’s new hardline president, Ebrahem Raisi, is sworn into office. Also plausible is that negotiations could break down altogether and that a precipitating event, either foreseen or unforeseen, would spark an Iran-US nuclear crisis. Such a crisis could quickly involve Israel.[2]

“Deterrence is concerned with influencing the choices that another party will make, and doing it by influencing his expectations of how we will behave.”-Thomas C. Schelling, The Strategy of Conflict (1960)

Background of the problem

For many years, Israel’s military and intelligence chiefs had hoped for an American strike against Iran; ideally, a comprehensive preemptive attack on Iran’s pertinent nuclear infrastructures.[3] Nonetheless, any plausible US-Iran nuclear crisis could have become more costly than gainful for Israel. Any such crisis could have caused Jerusalem to recall too late the succinct maxim: “Be careful what you wish for.”

Explanations are required. If US President Joseph Biden should ever become embroiled in a major security crisis with Iran, all immediately relevant policy issues would center on strategy and tactics, not on considerations of law. These inherently complex policy issues could quickly become overlapping and interpenetrating. At times, therefore, whether witting or unwitting, Washington’s operational crisis decisions could sometimes prove jurisprudentially determinative.

Depending upon which country was to strike first in any belligerent US-Iran context, American military actions could become either law-violating or law-enforcing. Similar legal questions would follow from the particular types of weapons used and from the expressed regard or disregard shown for non-combatant (civilian) populations.

               “Everything is simple in war,” says Carl von Clausewitz in On War, “but even the simplest thing is very difficult.” None of these legal questions are meant to suggest that a first use of force would be ipso facto illegal. This is the case because customary international law (defined at Article 38 of the UN’s Statute of the International Court of Justice[4]) expressly allows for certain residual resort to “anticipatory self-defense.”[5] Following The Caroline (1837), international law need never be taken to represent some form or other of “suicide pact.”[6]

Intersecting jurisprudential and strategic considerations

               There is more. International law is always a part of each individual state’s corpus of domestic or municipal law, an authoritative incorporation most immediately conspicuous for the United States at Article 6 of the US Constitution (the Supremacy Clause) and in various US Supreme Court decisions, especially the Paquete Habana (1900) and Tel Oren v. Libyan Arab Republic (1981).[7]

               Certain antecedent questions now also arise. What, precisely, does US President Joseph Biden have in mind in preparing suitably for a prospective nuclear crisis or armed conflict with Iran? What would this presumptive American expectation mean for the derivative safety of US ally Israel?[8] What related benefits, if any, might be expected from the Trump-brokered Abraham Accords?[9] And what are the precise definitional parameters of “nuclear crisis”?

               This last question has an easy but still-complicating answer. Any US crisis with Iran must be considered per se “nuclear,” even if it takes place before that country becomes an operationally capable atomic power. Still, any crisis with Iran would become more demonstrably and dramatically nuclear where both states were “Members of the Nuclear Club.” This is the case even though a substantial and protracted nuclear force asymmetry would clearly obtain between Washington and Tehran.

               Once a genuine conflict was plainly underway between Iran and the United States,[10] full-scale military engagements could quickly or incrementally involve Israeli armed forces (IDF). In certain manifestly worst case scenarios, these clashes would involve unconventional weapons, and directly impact Israel’s vulnerable civilian populations.[11] The most fearful narratives here would obviously be ones that involve nuclear ordnance.[12]

               In anticipation, capable strategic and jurisprudential thinking is required in both Washington and Jerusalem. Even during a potentially fleeting time in which Israel would remain the only regional nuclear power, an American war with Iran could elicit Israeli nuclear deterrence threats[13] and/or Israeli nuclear reprisals.[14] For Israel, such threats or reprisals could be entirely rational[15]and fully legal.[16]

Plausible scenarios

How might such dissembling circumstances emerge? As a “bolt-from-the-blue” spasm of violence, or in less blatant stages; that is, in variously difficult-to- fathom increments of harm? Most credibly, a “collateral war” would come to Israel as a catastrophic fait accompli, a multi-pronged belligerency wherein even the most comprehensive security preparations in Jerusalem/Tel-Aviv would quite suddenly prove inadequate. What then? What would likely happen next, operationally and legally?

               The only meaningful answer to such inherently problematic queries must include aptly candid affirmations of strategic unpredictability. In science and mathematics, accurate statements of probability must always be drawn from the discernible frequency of relevant past events. In those increasingly dense strategic matters currently dangling before America, Iran and Israel,[17] there are no relevant past events.

               Matters here are made even more bewildering by already ongoing non-nuclear problems in the Middle East. Most urgent of these problems is the increasingly dramatic shortage of water and the growing uncertainty of electrical power. Though military strategists might not ordinarily factor in such “non-military” difficulties as primary to nuclear war avoidance, national security decision-making is ultimately carried out by flesh and blood human beings. Prima facie, such kindred creatures of biology will always be affected by the most elementary primal needs and expectations.

               Strategically, there is more here to ponder. For the moment, at least, Joe Biden has identified no specific military doctrine for tangible application in this theatre. Once confronted with a “no doctrine” war launched against Iran by an American president, whether as defensive first-strike or as retaliation (both could conceivably be lawful), Israel’s senior strategists would need to fashion their own corresponding doctrines – more-or-less ex nihilo.  

               How exactly should Jerusalem/Tel Aviv accurately anticipate Iranian or Iranian-surrogate attacks on Israeli targets? As an antecedent question, how should these decision-makers and planners best identify which of these vulnerable targets would be presumptively “high value”? At some point, such an Intelligence Community/Ministry of Defense (MOD) operational challenge could include the small defending country’s Dimona nuclear reactor. In 1991 and 2014, the ultrasensitive facility at Dimona already came under rocket and missile attack from separate Iraqi and Hamas aggressions.[18]

               In any upcoming conflict with the United States, Tehran would likely regard direct attacks upon selected Israeli targets as proper “retaliations” for American strikes. This is the case whether these strikes were launched as an initial move of war against the Islamic Republic and its surrogates or a variously foreseeable response to Iranian first strikes. Potentially, Iranian forces could gain operational access to hypersonic rockets or missiles. Should such                                       access be obtained, Israel’s critical capacity to shoot down hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs) and/or hypersonic cruise missiles (HCMs) might prove sorely inadequate.

               What would happen next? In logical response, considerations of law and justice would likely prove anterior to visceral considerations of victory and survival. Among other things, could mean military escalations that are anything but gainful or “cost-effective.”

               When pertinent options are examined dialectically, as they should, it could be to Tehran’s perceived advantage to drag Israel into any US or Iran-initiated war and to do this ostentatiously. Striking the US homeland would prove vastly more difficult for Iran, and also more likely elicit a range of intolerable reprisals. On its face, any US-initiated war against Iran would strengthen Saudi military power specifically and Sunni Arab military power in general. While such an expected strengthening might now seem less worrisome to Israel than expanding Iranian militarization, this delicate strategic calculus could reverse very quickly.

 Israeli planners would need to investigate a number of previously disregarded military options against specific Sunni Arab adversaries, including legal questions of jus ad bellum and jus in bello.[19]Simultaneously, these planners would need to calculate prospective Iranian activation of Hezbollah and Houthi militias against not only Israel directly, but also Saudi Arabia and/or the United Arab Emirates. Regarding direct Shiite militia attacks against Israel, the main threat would be to Israeli shipping in the Red Sea. At this point, the Houthis maintain a real but still-limited capacity to target Israel from Yemen with long-range missiles and drones. Earlier, Iran played a major role in enabling Gaza terror factions (mostly Hamas) to produce usable weapons; today, the Islamic Republic is exporting valuable technological know-how to expanding Houthi forces in Yemen.

A complex geopolitics

Iran is seeking to become a regional hegemon in a manifestly “opaque” theater of conflict. Over time, both the United States and Israel must do what is possible to curb further Iranian activation of Houthi and Hezbollah militias. Assuredly, once Iran is able to cross the nuclear military threshold, all such inhibiting tactics would become expansively dangerous. Unless the United States approaches these fragmenting sources of Middle East instability in a more suitably coherent fashion, Israel is likely to be left “holding the bag.” Now, of course, in the summer of 2021, American forces are rapidly abandoning Afghanistan to assorted and diverse Jihadi forces. A geo-strategic vacuum will emerge to the palpable detriment of Israel.

It’s a very delicate regional balance of power. For years, a Salafi/Deobandi (Sunni) Crescent has emerged to challenge the Shiite Crescent. The objective is an attempt by Al Qaeda and other Salafi/Deobandi Islamist groups to counter the Crescent created by Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. 

Unambiguously, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon are in a state of near-collapse –  a result especially of severe water and electrical shortages coupled with pandemic disease. “Salafi Crescent” reflects Sunni ambition to establish a caliphate controlling much of the Middle East and forming the Islamic State “from Diyala (in eastern Iraq) to Beirut.” Al-Qaeda’s hatred of the Shiites was already expressed by its founder Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, who called them “the insurmountable obstacle, the prowling serpent…the enemy lying in wait, and ordered his followers to ’fight them.’”

                Should the Biden-led US military ever find itself in a two-front or multi-front war –  a complex conflict wherein American forces are battling in Asia (North Korea) and the Middle East simultaneously – Israel could find itself fighting on its own. For such an exceptionally complicating scenario to be suitably appreciated, Israeli strategists would first need to bear in mind that any “whole” of tangible deteriorations caused by multi-front engagements could effectively exceed the sum of constituent “parts.”[20]

               This means, among other things, that Israeli strategists and planners will need to remain persistently sensitive to all credible synergies. It must go without saying that the former Trump administration (ushered into power at the 2016 Republican National Convention by Keynote “Speaker” Duck Dynasty) was unaccustomed to any such challenging intellectual calculations. For those now-discarded planners in Washington, complex strategic decisions could best be extrapolated from the commerce-driven worlds of real-estate manipulation and casino gambling.

               If only the United States had earlier paid attention to Friedrich Nietzsche’s simple warning in Zarathustra: “Do not seek the Higher Man at the marketplace.”

               Presently, there is still time for Washington and Jerusalem to recall certain timeless insights of Prussian strategist Carl von Clausewitz. For the author of On War, the determining standard of reasonableness in any military contest must always lie in presumed political outcomes. For a state to get caught up in war – any war – without adequately clear political expectations is always a mistake. Here, both Washington and Jerusalem must concern themselves not only with Iranian power projections and expansions, but also with the perilously uncertain prospects of the “Sunni Crescent,” an array of more-or-less organized Sunni forces intending to combat Shiite adventurism. If this were not complicated enough, planners in Washington and Jerusalem/Tel Aviv must also consider various believable intersections or synergies, consideration’s that will inevitably pose a staggering measure of intellectual challenge.

Recent regional histories

For more years than we may care to recollect, futile American wars remained underway in Iraq and Afghanistan.  In short time, for Iraqis and Afghans, their once-hoped-for oases of regional stability will regress to what seventeenth-century English philosopher Thomas Hobbes would have called a “war of all against all.”[21] At best, what eventually unravels in these severely fractured countries will be no worse than if these wars had never even been fought. At worst, what unravels will be substantially more unstable.

               Either way, what is now unraveling in Iraq and Afghan will never represent a welcome political outcome.

               Shouldn’t we all now inquire, accordingly: Did Americans and others sacrifice so much blood and treasure to bring about, at best, status quo ante bellum?

               Over the years, with the now obvious exception of North Korea,[22] America’s principal doctrinal enemy has changed, dramatically, from “communism” to “Islamism” or “Jihadism.” This time, however, the ideological adversary is palpable, real and not merely presumptive.  This time it is also a formidable and finely-textured foe, one that requires continuously serious analytic study, not just ad hoc responses or seat-of-the-pants US presidential eruptions. There are times, perhaps, when real or contrived bellicosity can serve American national security policy objectives (e.g., the possible deterrence benefit of pretended irrationality) and objectives of certain close allies (e.g., Israel), but not where it is detached from previously-constructed theoretical foundations.[23]

               There is more. The Jihadist enemy of America and Israel remains a foe that can never be fully defeated, at least not in any measurable final sense. This determined enemy will not be immobilized on any of the more usual or traditional military battlefields.[24]  Never.

               If at some point a particular Jihadi adversary has seemingly been vanquished by US military forces in one country or another, it will likely re-group and reappear elsewhere. After Iraq, after Afghanistan, even after Syria (which now dissembles with Russian support of a genocidal regime that has always been hostile to Israel), America will face resurgent adversaries in hard-to-manage and geographically far-flung places. These locales include Sudan, Mali, Nigeria, Yemen, Somalia, Egypt, and perhaps even Bangladesh or (in  the future) “Palestine.”[25] In the end, the “final” resolution to various conflicts will largely be a matter of will.[26]

               During the Trump Era in the Middle East, an American president and his National Security Advisor sounded alarm bells over Iran –  and this after the United States, not Iran, withdrew from an international legal agreement that was less than perfect,[27] but (reasonably) better than nothing at all.[28]

Preemption and anticipatory self-defense

When all these intersecting factors are taken into suitable intellectual account, there remains a residual argument (one that might quickly be anticipated in Israel) that a US-generated war with Iran would de facto amount to an anti-nuclear preemption[29] or to some similarly purposeful act of “anticipatory self-defense.”[30] Here, and with little reasonable doubt, the American war would be regarded as “cost-effective” or “net gainful” in Jerusalem/Tel Aviv.[31] This visceral assessment, however, could become a matter of what Sigmund Freud called “wish fulfillment” rather than of one of any serious strategic assessment (risks and benefits).

               Realistically, there is only a tiny likelihood that American bombs and missiles would soon be adequately targeted on widely multiplied/hardened/dispersed Iranian nuclear infrastructures.

               In reality, at least for the present, any US war against Iran would be contrary to Israel’s core national security interests and obligations. Glib reassurances to the contrary from Jerusalem/Tel Aviv or Washington (or both) could be prospectively lethal for Israel. Though assuredly genuine, the attack threat from Iran should never be taken as an opening for crudely simplifying political rhetoric. Instead, this threat should be assessed and calibrated dialectically,[32] as reliably as possible according to all normally verifiable standards of enemy force posture estimations.[33]

                If, at any point during crisis bargaining between Iran, Hezbollah, Israel and the United States, one side or the other should place too great a value on achieving “escalation dominance”[34] and too little value on parallel considerations of national safety, the expanding conflict could promptly turn “out of control.” Any such consequential deterioration would be especially or even uniquely worrisome if Israel threatened or launched some of its presumptive nuclear forces. This is the case irrespective of any promised strategic support for Israel from the United States.

The importance of doctrine

               In sum, if Israel should look again to the United States for seamlessly capable geo-strategic leadership, it could be taking unprecedented national security risks. At a minimum, Israel has the incontestable right (and also the obligation – to its own citizens) to expect fully decipherable expressions of US military doctrine. Going forward, unless it should insist more firmly upon maintaining this critical right, Israel could then have to face starkly injurious security outcomes. The considered prospect of a fully-sovereign Palestinian state would need to be taken here as a significant “intervening variable.”[35]

                Every state’s first responsibility is to assure and maintain citizen protection; citizen allegiance is therefore contingent upon such valid assurances.  Most famous in pertinent political theory is the classic statement of seventeenth-century Englishman Thomas Hobbes, expressed at Chapter XXI of his Leviathan: “The obligation of subjects to the sovereign is understood to last so long, and no longer, then the power lasteth, by which he is able to protect them.” Later, Thomas Jefferson, third president of the United States, described this obligation as binding upon all the nations. Writing his Opinion on the French Treaties (April 28, 1793), Jefferson opined: “The nation itself, bound necessarily to whatever it’s preservation and safety require, cannot enter into engagements contrary to its indispensable obligations.”[36]

               There is more. In law, every state has an enduring obligation to oppose and (if necessary) suitably punish aggression. Punishment of aggression is a longstanding peremptory expectation of international criminal law.  The foundational principle of Nullum crimen sine poena, “No crime without a punishment,” has its origins in the Code of Hammurabi (c. 1728 – 1686 B.C.E.); the Laws of Eshnunna (c. 2000 B.C.E.); the even earlier Code of Ur-Nammu (c. 2100 B.C.E.) and the law of exact retaliation, or Lex Talionis, which ispresented in three separate passages of the Jewish Torah

               For Israel, a uniformly continuous concern with certain basic jurisprudential principles could advance its legal as well as strategic objectives, most plainly those that jurist William Blackstone had identified in his Commentaries on the Law of England (Book 4 “Of Public Wrongs”): “Each state is expected, perpetually,” noted Blackstone, “to aid and enforce the law of nations, as part of the common law, by inflicting an adequate punishment upon the offenses against that universal law.”

                Such ideas did not arise in a theoretic or intellectual vacuum. Ultimately, Blackstone is indebted to Cicero’s description of natural law in The Republic: “True law is right reason, harmonious with nature, diffused among all, constant, eternal; a law which calls to duty by its commands and restrains from evil by its prohibitions….” Natural law is never an adornment. Always, it lies at the very heart of United States Constitutional law and of all that conceivably derives therefrom.

Just wars and cumulative complexities

               As for “just wars” pertaining to both jus ad bellum and jus in bello criteria, Hugo Grotius wrote that they “arise from our love of the innocent.”[37] Though it is most unlikely that such legal high-mindedness could ever factor into US President Joe Biden’s possible decision to encourage or initiate a war against Iran, it still remains a promising standard for Israel to bear continuously in mind. This will prove especially good advice if American military actions against Iran should sometime prod the Islamic Republic to “retaliate” against Israel.

More than ever before, the Middle East has become a complicated “neighborhood.” To wit, overlapping Arab-Israel and Iran-Israel hostilities are rapidly changing variants of Sunni-Shia rivalries, including an irremediably core geo-political struggle between “Shia Crescent” and Sunni-Crescent (Salafi/Deobandi) countries. While Israel and the United States continue to have overriding common strategic interests, it remains altogether likely that certain upcoming resorts to military force by Washington could “tie the hands” of relevant policy-makers in Jerusalem. Whether witting or unwitting, any such American “tying” could sometime place Israel in existential peril,[38] This would become markedly true as soon as Iran had crossed the nuclear weapons threshold.

               What is to be done? Above all, the United States must take care to keep Israel “in the loop” wherever possible and Israel must make a reciprocal effort to stay fully informed about America’s regional foreign policy orientations. In this connection, greater subtlety will have to be applied by Israeli assessments than was displayed during the Trump Era. As a still-inconspicuous example, the net effect of the Trump-brokered Abraham Accords could prove sorely negative for Israel. Though these agreements might first have seemed gainful to Israel prima facie, they actually have no tangible bearing on Israel’s core security problems. Simultaneously, the Abraham Accords antagonize and marginalize Iran, a destabilizing effect that can’t possibly prove helpful to Israel.

               Going forward, the United States will inevitably find itself embroiled in various crisis relationships with Iran. To best protect itself from any unwanted collateral consequences, US ally Israel should continue to refine its intellect-based policies of deterrence, both conventional and nuclear.[39] More precisely, to optimize its presumed nuclear deterrent, Jerusalem/Tel Aviv should finally confront the rapidly disappearing advantages of “nuclear ambiguity,”[40] thereby acknowledging that the Jewish state is now able to calibrate a nuclear response to any particular level of military threat.[41] Prima facie, such an acknowledgment would serve not only Israel’s strategic obligations, but its complementary jurisprudential ones as well.[42]

               For Israel, in all pertinent matters, strategy and law must go hand in hand. Yet, even under optimal conditions regarding stable nuclear deterrence, the United States could suddenly find itself in extremis atomicum. The very same steps needed to maximize a credible American deterrence posture could simultaneously enlarge the likelihood of inadvertent nuclear war.[43] For Israel and the United States, one core imperative ought never be minimized or disregarded:

“Be careful what you wish for!”


[1] See https://www.atlanticcouncil.org/in-depth-research-reports/issue-brief/trumps-jcpoa-withdrawal-two-years-on-maximum-pressure-minimum-outcomes/

[2] On deterring a prospectively nuclear Iran, see Louis René Beres and General John T. Chain, “Could Israel Safely deter a Nuclear Iran? The Atlantic, August 2012; Professor Louis René Beres and General John T. Chain, “Israel; and Iran at the Eleventh Hour,” Oxford University Press (OUP Blog), February 23, 2012; and Beres/Chain: Israel: https://besacenter.org/living-iran-israels-strategic-imperative-2/  General Jack Chain (USAF) was Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Strategic Air Command (CINCSAC), from 1986 to 1991.

[3]From the standpoint of international law, it is always necessary to distinguish preemptive attacks from “preventive ones.” Preemption is a military strategy of striking an enemy first in the expectation that the only alternative is to be struck first oneself.  A preemptive attack is launched by a state that believes enemy forces are about to attack.  A preventive attack is launched not out of genuine concern about “imminent” hostilities, but rather for fear of a longer-term deterioration in a pertinent military balance.  Hence, in a preemptive attack, the length of time by which the enemy’s action is anticipated is very short, while in a preventive strike the interval is considerably longer. A problem for Israel, in this regard, is not only the practical difficulty of determining imminence, but also that delaying a defensive strike until appropriately ascertained imminence is acknowledged, could prove fatal.

[4] See: https://www.icj-cij.org/en/statute

[5] For early scholarly examinations of anticipatory self-defense, by this author, and with particular reference to Israel, see:  Louis René Beres,  “Preserving the Third Temple:  Israel’s Right of Anticipatory Self-Defense Under International Law,”  Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law,  Vol. 26,  No. 1,  April 1993,  pp. 111- 148;  Louis René Beres,  “After the Gulf War:  Israel, Preemption and Anticipatory Self-Defense,”  Houston Journal of International Law, Vol. 13,  No. 2,  Spring 1991,  pp. 259 – 280;  and Louis René Beres,  “Striking `First’: Israel’s Post-Gulf War Options Under International Law,” Loyola of Los Angeles International and Comparative Law Journal  Vol. 14,  Nov. 1991,  pp. 1 – 24.

[6] The obvious Israeli precedents for any preemptive moves would be Operation Opera directed against the Osiraq (Iraqi) nuclear reactor on June 7, 1981, and, later (though lesser known) Operation Orchard, against Syria on September 6, 2007. In April 2011, the U.N.’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that the bombed Syrian site in the Deir ez-Zoe region of Syria had indeed been a developing nuclear reactor. Both preemptions were arguably lawful assertions of Israel’s “Begin Doctrine.”

[7]See:  https://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/FSupp/517/542/2386834/

[8] Regarding specific effects of US nuclear strategy on security matters in the Middle East, by this author, see: Louis René Beres: https://besacenter.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/162-MONOGRAPH-Beres-Israeli-Nuclear-Deterrence-CORRECTED-NEW.pdf

[9] See https://www.state.gov/the-abraham-accords/ Also to be considered as complementary to these agreements are the Israel-Sudan Normalization Agreement (October 23, 2020) and the Israel-Morocco Normalization Agreement (December 10, 2020).

[10] Under international law, the question of whether or not a condition of war actually exists between states is often left unclear.  Traditionally, a “formal” war was said to exist only after a state had issued a formal declaration of war.  The Hague Convention III codified this position in 1907.  This Convention provided that hostilities must not commence without “previous and explicit warning” in the form of a declaration of war or an ultimatum.  See Hague Convention III on the Opening of Hostilities, Oct. 18, 1907, art. 1, 36 Stat. 2277, 205 Consol. T.S. 263.  Presently, a declaration of  war could be tantamount to a declaration of criminality because international law prohibits “aggression.” See Treaty Providing for the Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy, Aug. 27, 1948, art. 1, 46 Stat.  2343, 94 L.N.T.S.  57 (also called Pact of Paris or Kellogg-Briand Pact); Nuremberg Judgment, 1 I.M.T.  Trial of the Major War Criminals 171 (1947), portions reprinted in Burns H. Weston, et. al., INTERNATIONAL LAW AND WORLD ORDER  148, 159 (1980); U.N. Charter, art. 2(4).  A state may compromise its own legal position by announcing formal declarations of war.  It follows that a state of belligerency may exist without formal declarations, but only if there exists an armed conflict between two or more states and/or at least one of these states considers itself “at war.”

[11] Israel’s anti-missile defense shield has four overlapping layers: The Iron Dome system for intercepting short-range rockets; David’s Sling for medium-range rockets; Arrow-2 against intermediate-range ballistic missiles; and Arrow-3 for deployment against ICBM’s and (potentially) satellites.

[12] On the probable consequences of nuclear war fighting by this author, see: Louis René Beres, Surviving Amid Chaos: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016; 2nd. ed., 2018); Louis René Beres, Apocalypse: Nuclear Catastrophe in World Politics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980); Louis René Beres, Mimicking Sisyphus: America’s Countervailing Nuclear Strategy (Lexington MA:  Lexington Books, 1983); Louis René Beres, Reason and Realpolitik: US Foreign Policy and World Order (Lexington MA; Lexington Books, 1984); and Louis René Beres, ed., Security or Armageddon: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy (Lexington MA:  Lexington Books, 1986).

[13] Israel’s presumptive nuclear deterrence posture depends upon several separate but still-intersecting factors. Most important are the country’s significant weapons, infrastructures and missile defense capabilities. Less conspicuously urgent, but still important, are the defining structures of world politics. These structures include the fundamentally anarchic system created after the 1648 Peace of Westphalia (“The State System”) and also (though plainly more transient or temporary) US-Russian superpower rivalry. The carefully detailed essay that follows focuses critically-needed attention on the latter set of explanatory factors, one associated with “Cold War II.” To plan ahead optimally, Israel’s designated strategists should pay increasing attention to this particular expression of geo-political “context.” These strategists will also have to look more closely than usual within pertinent decision-making structures of the United States. This is because (1) America is experiencing steadily expanding levels of intra-national cultural incoherence, epidemic and disorder, and (2) such levels will have major inter-national implications.

[14] The legal problem of reprisal as a permissible rationale for the use of force by states is identified and explained in the U.N. Declaration of Principles of International Law Concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States (1970) (https://cil.nus.edu.sg/wp-content/uploads/formidable/18/1970-Declaration-on-Principles-of-International-Law-Concerning-Friendly-Relations.pdf)  Additionally, a possible prohibition of reprisals is deducible from the broad regulation of force expressed in the UN Charter at Article 2(4); the obligation to settle disputes peacefully at Article 2(3); and the general limiting of permissible force (codified and customary) by states to necessary self-defense.

[15] In authoritative studies of world politics, rationality and irrationality have taken on very precise meanings. A state is presumed to be rational to the extent that its leadership always values national survival more highly than any other conceivable preference or combination of preferences. Conversely, an irrational state is one that would not always display such a markedly specific preference ordering. On expressly pragmatic or operational grounds, ascertaining whether a particular state adversary such as Iran would be rational or irrational could easily become an overwhelmingly daunting task.

[16] No state on earth, including Israel, is under any per se legal obligation to renounce access to nuclear weapons; in certain distinctly residual circumstances, moreover, even the actual resort to such weapons could be presumed lawful. See generally The Legality of the Threat or Use of Force of Nuclear Weapons, Advisory Opinion, 1997 I.C.J. (July 8). The final paragraph of this Opinion, concludes, inter alia: “The threat or use of nuclear weapons would generally be contrary to the rules of international law applicable in armed conflict, and in particular the principles and rules of humanitarian law. However, in view of the current state of international law, and of the elements of fact at its disposal, the Court cannot conclude definitively whether the threat or use of nuclear weapons would be lawful or unlawful in an extreme circumstance of self-defense, in which the very survival of a State would be at stake.”

[17] “Everything is very simple in war,” says Clausewitz, in his classical discussion of “friction” in On War, “but the simplest thing is difficult.” Herein, this concept refers to the unpredictable effects of errors in knowledge and information concerning intra-Israel (IDF/MOD) strategic uncertainties; on Israeli and Iranian under-estimations or over-estimations of relative power position; and on the unalterably vast and largely irremediable differences between theories of deterrence, and enemy intent “as it actually is.” See: Carl von Clausewitz, “Uber das Leben und den Charakter von Scharnhorst,” Historisch-politische Zeitschrift, 1 (1832); cited in Barry D. Watts, Clausewitzian Friction and Future War, McNair Paper No. 52, October, 1996, Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University Washington, D.C. p. 9.

[18] For the crime of aggression under international law, see: Resolution on the Definition of Aggression, adopted by the UN General Assembly, Dec. 14, 1974. U.N.G.A. Res. 3314 (XXIX), 29 UN GAOR, Supp (No. 31), 142, UN Doc A/9631 (1975) reprinted in 13 I.L.M., 710 (1974).

[19] In law, states must judge every use of force twice: once with regard to the underlying right to wage war (jus ad bellum) and once with regard to the means used in actually conducting war (jus in bello). Following the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 and the United Nations Charter, there can be absolutely no right to aggressive war. However, the long-standing customary right of post-attack self-defense remains codified at Article 51 of the UN Charter. Similarly, subject to conformance, inter alia, with jus in bello criteria, certain instances of humanitarian intervention and collective security operations may also be consistent with jus ad bellum. The law of war, the rules of jus in bello, comprise: (1) laws on weapons; (2) laws on warfare; and (3) humanitarian rules. Codified primarily at The Hague and Geneva Conventions, these rules attempt to bring discrimination, proportionality and military necessity into all belligerent calculations.

[20] See, by this author: Louis René Beres: https://harvardnsj.org/2015/06/core-synergies-in-israels-strategic-planning-when-the-adversarial-whole-is-greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts/

[21] Apropos of Hobbes’ argument that the state of nature is worse among individuals than among states, the philosopher Spinoza suggested that “…a commonwealth can guard itself against being subjugated by another, as a man in the state of nature cannot do.” See: A.G. Wernham, ed., The Political Works, Tractatus Politicus, iii, II; Clarendon Press, 1958, p. 295.

[22] Here it also ought to be recalled that North Korea once helped Syria build a nuclear reactor, the same facility that was later destroyed by Israel in its Operation Orchard, on September 6, 2007. Unlike earlier Operation Opera (June 7, 1981) this preemptive attack, in the Deir ez-Zor region, was presumptively a second expression of the so-called “Begin Doctrine.” It also illustrated, because of the North Korea-Syria connection, a wider globalthreat to Israel in particular.

[23] At the same time, we cannot be allowed to forget that theoretical fruitfulness must be achieved at some more-or-less tangible cost of “dehumanization.”  As Goethe reminds us is Urfaust, the original Faust fragment: “All theory, dear friend, is grey, And the golden tree of life is green.” Translated here by the author, from the German: “Grau, theurer Freund, ist alle Theorie, Und grun des Lebens goldner Baum.”

[24] Under international law, terrorist movements (of which Jihadist groups are a current manifestation) are always Hostes humani generis, or “Common enemies of mankind.” See: Research in International Law: Draft Convention on Jurisdiction with Respect to Crime, 29 AM J. INT’L L. (Supp 1935) 435, 566 (quoting King marsh (1615), 3 Bulstr. 27, 81 Eng. Rep 23 (1615) (“a pirate est Hostes humani generis”)).

[25] See, by this author: Louis René Beres: https://www.jurist.org/commentary/2017/07/louis-beres-palestine-fiction/

For earlier and original writings by this author on the prospective impact of a Palestinian state on Israeli nuclear deterrence and Israeli nuclear strategy, see: Louis René Beres, “Security Threats and Effective Remedies: Israel’s Strategic, Tactical and Legal Options,” Ariel Center for Policy Research (Israel), ACPR Policy Paper No. 102, April 2000, 110 pp; Louis René Beres, “After the `Peace Process:’ Israel, Palestine, and Regional Nuclear War,” DICKINSON JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW, Vol. 15, No. 2., Winter 1997, pp. 301-335; Louis René Beres, “Limits of Nuclear Deterrence: The Strategic Risks and Dangers to Israel of False Hope,” ARMED FORCES AND SOCIETY, Vol. 23., No. 4., Summer 1997, pp. 539-568; Louis René Beres, “Getting Beyond Nuclear Deterrence: Israel, Intelligence and False Hope,” INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INTELLIGENCE AND COUNTERINTELLIGENCE, Vol. 10., No. 1., Spring 1997, pp. 75-90; Louis René Beres, “On Living in a Bad Neighborhood: The Informed Argument for Israeli Nuclear Weapons,” POLITICAL CROSSROADS, Vol. 5., Nos. 1/2, 1997, pp. 143-157; Louis René Beres, “Facing the Apocalypse: Israel and the `Peace Process,'” BTZEDEK: THE JOURNAL OF RESPONSIBLE JEWISH COMMENTARY (Israel), Vol. 1., No. 3., Fall/Winter 1997, pp. 32-35; Louis René Beres and (Ambassador) Zalman Shoval, “Why Golan Demilitarization Would Not Work,” STRATEGIC REVIEW, Vol. XXIV, No. 1., Winter 1996, pp. 75-76; Louis René Beres, “Implications of a Palestinian State for Israeli Security and Nuclear War: A Jurisprudential Assessment,” DICKINSON JOURNAL OF INTERNATIONAL LAW, Vol. 17., No. 2., 1999, pp. 229-286; Louis René Beres, “A Palestinian State and Israel’s Nuclear Strategy,” CROSSROADS: AN INTERNATIONAL SOCIO-POLITICAL JOURNAL, No. 31, 1991, pp. 97-104; Louis René Beres, “The Question of Palestine and Israel’s Nuclear Strategy,” THE POLITICAL QUARTERLY, Vol. 62, No. 4., October-December 1991, pp. 451-460; Louis René Beres, “Israel, Palestine and Regional Nuclear War,” BULLETIN OF PEACE PROPOSALS, Vol. 22., No. 2., June 1991, pp. 227-234; Louis René Beres, “A Palestinian State: Implications for Israel’s Security and the Possibility of Nuclear War,” BULLETIN OF THE JERUSALEM INSTITUTE FOR WESTERN DEFENCE  (Israel), Vol. 4., Bulletin No, 3., October 1991, pp. 3-10; Louis René Beres, ISRAELI SECURITY AND NUCLEAR WEAPONS, PSIS Occasional Papers, No. 1/1990, Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva, Switzerland, 40 pp; and Louis René Beres, “After the Gulf War: Israel, Palestine and the Risk of Nuclear War in the Middle East,” STRATEGIC REVIEW, Vol. XIX, No. 4., Fall 1991, pp. 48-55.

[26] Modern philosophic origins of “will” are discoverable in the writings of Arthur Schopenhauer, especially The World as Will and Idea (1818). For his own inspiration, Schopenhauer drew freely upon Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. Later, Nietzsche drew just as freely and perhaps more importantly upon Schopenhauer. Goethe was also a core intellectual source for Spanish existentialist Jose Ortega y’Gasset, author of the singularly prophetic twentieth-century work, The Revolt of the Masses (Le Rebelion de las Masas;1930). See, accordingly, Ortega’s very grand essay, “In Search of Goethe from Within” (1932), written for Die Neue Rundschau of Berlin on the centenary of Goethe’s death. It is reprinted in Ortega’s anthology, The Dehumanization of Art (1948) and is available from Princeton University Press (1968).

[27] See Louis René Beres, “After the Vienna Agreement: Could Israel and a Nuclear

Iran Coexist?” IPS Publications, Institute for Policy and Strategy, IDC Herzliya,

Israel, September, 2015 See also:   https://www.idc.ac.il/he/research/ips/Documents/iran/LouisReneBeres-Iran2014.pdf

[28] International law remains in essence a “vigilante” system, sometimes also called a “Westphalian” system. Such history-based reference is to the Peace of Westphalia (1648), which concluded the Thirty Years War and created the now still-existing self-help “state system.” See: Treaty of Peace of Munster, Oct. 1648, 1 Consol. T.S. 271; and Treaty of Peace of Osnabruck, Oct. 1648, 1., Consol. T.S. 119, Together, these two treaties comprise the Peace of Westphalia.

[29] Such a “life-saving” preemption option could be entirely permissible under international law. Known jurisprudentially as anticipatory self-defense, this potentially lawful option can be found not in conventional law (art. 51 of the UN Charter supports only post-attack expressions of individual or collective self-defense), but in customary international law. The most precise origins of anticipatory self-defense in customary law lie in the Caroline, a case that concerned the unsuccessful rebellion of 1837 in Upper Canada against British rule. Following this case, the serious threat of armed attack has generally justified certain militarily defensive actions. In an exchange of diplomatic notes between the governments of the United States and Great Britain, then U.S. Secretary of State Daniel Webster outlined a framework for self-defense that did not require an antecedent attack. Here, the jurisprudential framework permitted a military response to a threat so long as the danger posed was “instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.” See: Beth M. Polebaum, “National Self-defense in International Law: An Emerging Standard for a Nuclear Age,” 59 N.Y.U.L. Rev. 187, 190-91 (1984) (noting that the Caroline case had transformed the right of self-defense from an excuse for armed intervention into a legal doctrine). Still earlier, see: Hugo Grotius, Of the Causes of War, and First of Self-Defense, and Defense of Our Property, reprinted in 2 Classics of International Law, 168-75 (Carnegie Endowment Trust, 1925) (1625); and Emmerich de Vattel, The Right of Self-Protection and the Effects of the Sovereignty and Independence of Nations, reprinted in 3 Classics of International Law, 130 (Carnegie Endowment Trust, 1916) (1758). Also, Samuel Pufendorf, The Two Books on the Duty of Man and Citizen According to Natural Law, 32 (Frank Gardner Moore., tr., 1927 (1682).

[30] Professor Louis René Beres was Chair of Project Daniel (PM Sharon) in 2003-2004. The rationale of Project Daniel was to examine the developing Iranian nuclear threat and to make pertinent suggestions about minimizing this threat.  See: http://www.acpr.org.il/ENGLISH-NATIV/03-ISSUE/daniel-3.htm

[31] Historically, preemption has figured importantly in Israeli strategic calculations.  This was most glaringly apparent in the wars of 1956 and 1967 and in the destruction of the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 and later the Syrian facility.  It was essentially the failure to preempt in October 1973 that contributed to heavy Israeli losses on the Egyptian and Syrian fronts during the Yom Kippur war, and almost brought about an Israeli defeat.  Back during January, May, and October 2013, Israel, understandably apprehensive about Damascus’ supply of military materials to Syria’s Hezbollah surrogates in Lebanon, preemptively struck selected hard targets within Syria. For an informed jurisprudential assessment of these undeclared but still-appropriate expressions of anticipatory self-defense, by this author, see: Louis René Beres, “Striking Hezbollah-Bound Weapons in Syria: Israel’s Actions Under International Law,” Harvard National Security Journal, Harvard Law School, posted August 26, 2013.

[32] The term “dialectic” originates from the Greek expression for the art of conversation. A common contemporary meaning is method of seeking truth by correct reasoning. From the standpoint of shaping Israel’s strategy  vis-à-vis Iran, the following operations could be regarded as essential but nonexclusive components: (1)  a method of refutation conducted by examining logical consequences; (2) a method of division or repeated logical analysis of genera into species; (3) logical reasoning using premises that are probable or generally accepted; (4) formal logic; and (5) the logical development of thought through thesis and antithesis to fruitful synthesis of these opposites.

[33] The de facto condition of Hobbesian anarchy within which Israel must make its pertinent assessments and calibrations stands in stark contrast to the legal assumption of solidarity between states. In essence, this idealized assumption concerns a presumptively common struggle against both aggression and terrorism. Such a “peremptory” expectation, known formally in law as a jus cogens assumption, was already mentioned in Justinian, Corpus Juris Civilis (533 CE); Hugo Grotius, 2 De Jure Belli ac Pacis Libri Tres, Ch. 20 (Francis W. Kesey., tr, Clarendon Press, 1925) (1690); and Emmerich de Vattel, 1 Le Droit Des Gens, Ch. 19 (1758).

[34] See, by this author: Louis René Beres: https://www.israeldefense.co.il/en/node/28931

[35] Some supporters of a Palestinian state argue that its prospective harms to Israel could be reduced or even eliminated by ensuring that new Arab state’s immediate “demilitarization.” For informed reasoning against this argument, see: Louis René Beres and (Ambassador) Zalman Shoval, “Why a Demilitarized Palestinian State Would Not Remain Demilitarized: A View Under International Law,” Temple International and Comparative Law Journal, Winter 1998, pp. 347-363; and Louis René Beres and Ambassador Shoval, “On Demilitarizing a Palestinian `Entity’ and the Golan Heights: An International Law Perspective,” Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Vo. 28., No.5., November 1995, pp. 959-972.

[36] See: Merrill D. Peterson, The Political Writings of Thomas Jefferson, Monticello Monograph Series, Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation, 1993, p. 115.

[37] See Hugo Grotius, The Law of War and Peace 70 (William Whewell, tr.), London: John W. Parker, 1853(1625).

[38] Much has been written concerning Israel’s irremediably limited strategic depth. This core security issue was addressed as early as June 29, 1967, when a US Joint Chiefs of Staff memorandum specified that returning Israel to pre-1967 boundaries would drastically increase its existential vulnerabilities. The JCS Chairman, General Earl Wheeler, then concluded that merely for minimal deterrence and defense, Israel should retain Sharm el-Sheikh and Wadi El Girali in the Sinai; the Gaza Strip (entire); the high ground and plateaus of the mountains in Judea and Samaria (West Bank); and the Golan Heights, east of Quneitra.

[39] Notes Guillaume Apollinaire, “It must not be forgotten that it is perhaps more dangerous for a nation to allow itself to be conquered intellectually than by arms.” See this poet’s The New Spirit and the Poets (1917). See also, Professor Beres with Ambassador Zalman Shoval: (Pentagon): https://mwi.usma.edu/creating-seamless-strategic-deterrent-israel-case-study/

[40] See, by Professor Beres, “Changing Direction: Updating Israel’s Nuclear Doctrine,” Strategic Assessment, INSS (Israel), Vol. 17, No.3., October 2014: http://www.inss.org.il/uploadImages/systemFiles/adkan17_3ENG%20(3)_Beres.pdf   Earlier, by this author, see: Louis René Beres, “Changing Direction? Updating Israel’s Nuclear Doctrine,” INSS, Israel, Strategic Assessment, Vol. 17, No.3., October 2014, pp. 93-106. See also: Louis René Beres, Looking Ahead: Revising Israel’s Nuclear Ambiguity in the Middle East, Herzliya Conference Policy Paper, Herzliya Conference, March 11-14, 2013 (Herzliya, Israel); Louis René Beres and Leon “Bud” Edney, Admiral  (USN/ret.) “Facing a Nuclear Iran, Israel Must Rethink its Nuclear Ambiguity,” U.S. News & World Report, February 11, 2013; 3pp; and Professor Louis René Beres and Admiral Leon “Bud” Edney,  “Reconsidering Israel’s Nuclear Posture,” The Jerusalem Post, October 14, 2013. Admiral Edney served as NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic (SACLANT).

[41] Elements of essential doctrine could sometimes prove counter-intuitive. For example, the likelihood of any actual nuclear conflict between states could be inversely related to the plausibly expected magnitude of catastrophic harms

[42] The law of war, the rules of jus in bello, comprise: (1) laws on weapons; (2) laws on warfare; and (3) humanitarian rules. Codified primarily at The Hague and Geneva Conventions, these rules attempt to bring discrimination, proportionality and military necessity into all belligerent calculations. Evidence for the rule of proportionality can also be found in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) at Art. 4. Similarly, the American Convention on Human Rights allows at Art. 27(1) such derogations “in time of war, public danger or other emergency which threaten the independence or security of a party” on “condition of proportionality.” In essence, the military principle of proportionality requires that the amount of destruction permitted must be proportionate to the importance of the objective. In contrast, the political principle of proportionality states “a war cannot be just unless the evil that can reasonably be expected to ensure from the war is less than the evil that can reasonably be expected to ensue if the war is not fought.” See Douglas P. Lackey, THE ETHICS OF WAR AND PEACE, 40 (1989). modified only by a subsequent norm of general international law having the same character.” See: Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, Done at Vienna, May 23, 1969. Entered into force, Jan. 27, 1980. U.N. Doc. A/CONF. 39/27 at 289 (1969), 1155 U.N.T.S. 331, reprinted in 8 I.L.M.  679 (1969).

[43] On 27 July 2921, US President Joseph Biden opined that the foreseeably greatest risk of a nuclear war would be as the result of cyber-terrorism or hacking. See: https://finance.yahoo.com/news/biden-warns-real-shooting-war-003405801.html

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Defense

The Nuclear future of East Asia

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In the face of North Korea and China’s continuous expansion and advancement in their nuclear arsenal in the past decade, the nuclear question for East Asian countries is now more urgent than ever—especially when U.S.’s credibility of extended deterrence has been shrinking since the post-cold war era. Whether to acquire independent nuclear deterrent has long been a huge controversy, with opinions rather polarized. Yet it is noteworthy that there is indeed gray zone between zero and one—the degree of latency nuclear deterrence.

This paper suggests that developing nuclear weapons may not be the wise choice for East Asian countries at the moment, however, given the fact that regional and international security in the Asia-Pacific is deemed to curtail, regardless of their decision to go nuclear or not, East Asia nations should increase their latency nuclear deterrence. In other words, even if they do not proceed to the final stage of acquiring independent nuclear deterrent, a latent nuclear weapons capability should at least be guaranteed. Meanwhile, for those who have already possessed certain extent of nuclear latency—for instance, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan—to shorten their breakout time whilst minimize obstacles for a possible nuclearization in the future.

The threat is ever-present—The Nuclear North Korea

Viewing from a realist perspective, the geographical locations of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan have always been a valid argument for their nuclearization—being surrounded by nuclear-armed neighbors, namely China and North Korea—these countries have witnessed an escalation of threat on an unprecedented scale since the cold war.

Having its first nuclear weapon tested in 2006, the total inventory North Korea now possess is estimated to be 30-40. With the misstep of relieving certain sanction during the Trump era, North Korea was able to revive and eventually expand its nuclear arsenal, making future negotiation between the Biden administration and the Kim regime much harder and less effective. Not only has North Korea’s missile test on March 25—which is the first since Mr. Biden’s presidency—signaled a clear message to the U.S. and her allies of its nuclearization will and stance, Pyongyang’s advancement in nuclear technologies also indicates a surging extent of threat.

For instance, North Korea state media KCNA claimed that the latest missile launched was a “new-type tactical guided projectile” which is capable of performing “gliding and pull-up” manoeuvres with an “improved version of a solid fuel engine”. In addition to these suspected “new type of missiles” that travels in low-attitude, the diversity of launches Pyongyang currently possess—from short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) to submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), as well as the transporter erector launchers (TELs) and the cold launch system—increase the difficulty in intercepting them via Aegis destroyer or other ballistic missile defense system since it is onerous, if not impossible, to detect the exact time and venue of the possible launches. Indeed, the “new type of missile” could potentially render South Korea’s Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) useless by evading radar detection system through its manoeuvres, according to a study from 38 North at The Henry L. Stimson Center.

Moreover,  the cold launch (perpendicular launch) system used by the North also indicates that multiple nuclear weapons could be fired from the same launch pad without severely damages caused to the infrastructure. Shigeru Ishiba, the former Defense Minister of Japan, has noted that not all incoming missiles would be able to be intercepted with the country’s missile defense system, and “even if that is possible, we cannot perfectly respond to saturation attacks”.

The Chinese nuclear arsenal

According to the SIPRI yearbook 2020, China’s total inventory of nuclear deterrent has reached 320, exceeding United Kingdom and France’s possession of nuclear warheads, of which London and Paris’s nuclear deterrent were considered as limited deterrence. In spite of the fact that China’s current nuclear stockpiles is still far less that what the Russians and Americans have, its nuclear technologies has been closely following the two military superpowers. For instance, the Chinese have successfully developed Multiple Independently Targetable Reentry Vehicle (MIRVs) and Maneuverable Reentry Vehicle (MARVs)—its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) DF-41 is capable of equipping up to 10 MIRVs while its Medium-Range Ballistic Missile (MRBM) DF-21D could carry MARV warhead that poses challenges to the BMD systems—these advancement in nuclear technologies are the solid proof that the Chinese nukes are only steps away from Moscow and Washington. Yet China’s nuclear arsenal remains unchecked and is not confined by any major nuclear arms reduction treaty such as the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), of which US and Russia has just reached a mutual consensus to extend the treaty through Feb 4, 2026.

In addition to China’s expansion of military capabilities and ambition in developing hypersonic glide vehicles (HGVs) and new MARVs, there is no lack of scepticism of its no-first use policy, especially with Beijing’s coercive diplomacy and provocative actions in the East and South China Sea, regarding “freedom of navigation” and other sovereignty rights issues. These all raise concerns and generate insecurity from neighboring countries and hence, East Asia states i.e. Japan, South Korea and Taiwan would inevitably have to reconsider their nuclear option.

In spite of having advanced BMD system, for instance, Aegis Destroyer (Japan), THAAD (South Korea), Sky Bow III (Taiwan), the existing and emerging nuclear arsenal in Pyongyang and Beijing still leave East Asian states vulnerable under a hypothetical attack as mentioned above. Future could be worse than it seems—merely having deterrence by denial is not sufficient to safeguard national security—particularly with a shrinking credibility of U.S.’s extended deterrence since the post-cold war era.

America’s nuclear umbrella and the Alliance Dilemma

Theoretically speaking, alliance relations with the U.S. assure a certain extent of deterrence by punishment against hostile adversaries. For example, U.S. is committed to defend Japan under the 1960 Mutual Defense Treaty. Yet in reality, security could never be guaranteed. In a realist lens, state could not rely on others to defend their national interests, especially when it puts America’s homeland security at risk. Is U.S. willing to sacrifice Washington for Tokyo? Or New York for Seoul?

Strong rhetoric or even defense pact would not be able to ensure collective security, let alone strategic ambiguity, which is a strategy adopted by Washington for Taipei that is neither a binding security commitment nor the stance is clear. Regardless of the prospect of a better future than mere war and chaos, state should always prepare for the worst.

Besides, with Trump’s American First policy continuously undermining alliance relations in the past four years, East Asian countries may find it hard to restore mutual trust since diplomatic tracks are irreversible, despite Biden’s administration intention and effort to repair alliance and U.S.’s integrity as the global leader.

Moreover, even if alliance relations and credibility of extended deterrence is robust at the moment, but the bigger question is—could and should East Asian countries shelter under America’s nuclear umbrella forever? If they choose not to go nuclear, these states would be constantly threatened by their nuclear-armed neighbors, without a credible direct (nuclear) deterrence to safeguard national security; and forced to negotiate, or worse, compromise in the face of a possible nuclear extortion.

Undeniably, horizontal nuclear proliferation is always risky. Not only is it likely to deteriorate diplomatic relations with neighboring countries, but also generates a (nuclear) regional arms race that eventually trap all nations into a vicious circle of security dilemma due to the lack of mutual trust in an anarchical system, which will consequently lead to a decrease in regional, as well as international security.

Yet with the expansion and advancement of Pyongyang and Beijing’s nuclear arsenal, regional and international security is deemed to curtail, regardless of East Asian countries’ decisions to go nuclear or not. As the official members of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Japan’s and South Korea’s withdrawal may encourage other current non-nuclear weapon state to develop nukes. However, current existence of the NPT has already proven futile to prevent North Korea from acquiring its own nuclear weapons; or Israel, India and Pakistan, who are UN members but have never signed any of the treaties, to join the nuclear club.

The major concern about nuclear proliferation is never about the amount of warhead one possesses, but if they are in the wrong hands; for instance, a “rogue” state like North Korea. It is almost certain than none of the latent nuclear East Asia states would be considered “rogue” but just developed nations with rational calculation. In fact, the actual risk for these states joining the nuclear club in reality is not as high as most imagined. It may, indeed, help further bolster alliance relations between U.S., Japan and South Korea if they are able to come to some mutual consensuses in advance—developing independent nuclear deterrent is not an approach of alienating America’s presence as an effective ally but to strengthen security commitment with each other, and that US would support her allies in the Asia-Pacific in such attempt. The current existence of extended deterrence should not be a barrier for nuclearization. Rather, it should act as an extra protection for allied states.

Pave the way for future nuclearization

Admittedly, the road for any East Asia countries to go nuclear would be tough. Taipei’s attempt to develop nuclear weapons would imaginably trigger provocative response from Beijing, if not impossible, a pre-emptive strike that could lead to an escalation of war. Same situation goes for Seoul and Pyongyang even though the risk is relatively lower. As for Japan, although direct military confrontation is less likely comparing to Seoul and Taipei, the challenges Tokyo face for its nuclear option is no easier than any of them.

As the sole nation that has suffered from an atomic bomb explosion, Japan’s pacifism and anti-nuclear sentiment is embedded in its culture and society. According to a public opinion poll conducted by the Sankei News in 2017, 17.7% of the respondents agreed that “Japan should acquire its own nuclear weapons in the future” whilst 79.1% opposed to that idea. Despite having the imperative skills and technologies for an acquisition of independent nuclear deterrent (the breakout time for Japan is estimated to be about 6-12 months), Japan also lacks natural resources for producing nuclear warheads and has to rely heavily on uranium imports. Upholding the three non-nuclear principle since WWII, Japan’s bilateral nuclear agreements with the U.S., U.K, France and Australia specified that all imported nuclear-related equipment and materials “must be used only for the non-military purposes”. Violation of these agreements may result in sanctions that could cause devastated effect on Japan’s nuclear energy program, which supplies approximately 30% of the nation’s total electricity production. These issues, however, are not irresolvable.

Undeniably, it may take time and effort to negotiate new agreements and to change people’s pacifism into an “active pacifism”, yet these should not be the justifications to avoid the acquisition of independent nuclear deterrent as ensuring national security should always be the top priority. It is because in face of a nuclear extortion, the effectiveness of a direct nuclear deterrence guaranteed by your own country could not be replaced by any other measures such as deterrence by denial via BMD system or deterrence by punishment via extended deterrence and defense pact. Therefore, if there are too many obstacles ahead, then perhaps the wiser choice for Japan, South Korea and Taiwan at the moment is to increase their nuclear latency deterrence, shorten the breakout time and pave their way clear for future nuclearization. In other words, to keep their nuclear option open and be able to play offense and defense at its own will when the time comes.

Nevertheless, in addition to strengthening one’s latency nuclear deterrence, as well as obtaining a more equal relationship in the official and unofficial alliance with America, East Asian countries that have similar interest and common enemies should united to form a new military alliance which included security treaty regarding collective defense like the NATO; and focuses more on countering hybrid warfare like the QUAD. If Japan, South Korea and Taiwan ever choose to go nuclear, a common mechanism could be established to ensure that these states would pursue a minimum to limited deterrence capability that do not endanger each other’s security but rather to strengthen it, which would help minimizing the destabilization brought to regional security while constituting a more balanced situation with nuclear-armed rivalries.

After all, proliferation may not be the best solution, it is certainly not the worst either.

From our partner International Affairs

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