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Gap in the New START: New START does not address hypersonic missiles

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Since the dawn of the atomic age, Russia (ex-Soviet Union) and the United States have been locked in an intense geopolitical and military competition, resulting in various new technological and military developments over the last seven decades. The United States was the first to acquire atomic weapons, followed by the Soviet Union. This new realisation in the White House and Pentagon that their former ally in world war II has become their most significant threat resulted in a nuclear arms race between them. The era which started with the nuclearisation of the Soviet Union, since its ultimate demise, is known as the Cold War Era.

The cold war era is a unique combination of conflict and cooperation. Usually, this kind of cooperation was never seen between the two powerful adversaries, in World War I and World War II; the reason for that is the non-existence of nuclear weapons at that time, as the nuclear weapons could cause irreversible destruction of the human race. The first decade of the nuclear rivalry between the two sides saw some of the most ferocious nuclear strategies from both sides as the United States, with its massive retaliation strategy, threaten to annihilate the Soviet Union, other such strategies which emerged in the backdrop of this nuclear rivalry was the formulation of MAD, the Mutual Assured Destruction, a strategy that tried to pursue some kind of balance in a nuclear world, that would deter the opponent from launching an attack in the first place.

All these initial theories and strategies were related to the war-fighting aspect of nuclear weapons, but as the nuclear sabre-rattling reached its zenith, the need was felt to construct a framework through which both powers can negotiate necessary terms to lower the nuclear threshold and thus limit the dangers emanating from nuclear weapons. Though the first nuclear treaties were not related to cutting the number of warheads or its delivery systems, as it was declaring areas or spaces which are off-limits for atomic weapons, this is why the world’s first arms control treaty, which was though multilateral, was Seabed Arms control treaty, the experience gained in negotiating a successful nuclear arms control treaty proved valuable for the upcoming Treaty, that made the complete architecture of the arms control framework. In this study, we will explore the New START (Strategic Arms Reduction) Treaty, its recent extension and the missing link of hypersonic missiles in the Treaty. Russia is now in the advanced stages of deploying these weapons.

At the same time, the United States, even after decades of hypersonic missiles program, has thus far been in the advanced stages of testing the superfast missiles. The hypersonic missiles induction in the New START treaty is too early to perceive when the extension of NEW START itself was in limbo due to the highly controversial standpoint of Trump regarding arms control treaties. Donald Trump announced US withdrawal from the INF treaty, The Open Skies Treaty, and was mulling an idea to end the New START treaty due to non-compliance from Russia. Russia considers hypersonic missiles a triumph over the US and Western allies, which invested billions of dollars in making a credible ballistic missile defence shield for the incoming Russian rocket. For this to happen, Republican President George W. Bush announced an abrupt withdrawal from the Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty.

This decision added to the mistrust between Russia and the United States, as Moscow accused the US of the double game on the nuclear issue. At the same time, the United States, on the other hand, rejected the Russian stance. It highlighted new challenges such as the Iranian growing ballistic missile program and the threat from North Korea to the US and its allies, which prompted this US withdrawal from the ABM treaty. The Russian arsenal of hypersonic missiles is threatening to introduce a new strategic instability among the two leading nuclear powers; with a treaty like New START in place, there is a need to incorporate these weapons into the Treaty, and as the only surviving atomic arms treaty between the two nuclear powers. Both US and Russia can plug the gap on this costly arms race, which will bring a huge instability in the current deterrence equation between the two countries adding to the nuclear miscalculation, and also on the part of Russia a new belligerent or nuclear brinkmanship as the United States up until now failed to field its version of the hypersonic missile.

Timeline of the Nuclear Weapons Treaties between the US and Russia

The demise of arms control frameworks started at the beginning of the new millennium. Though the last decade of the 20th century brought Russia and the US closer on many fronts and initiated a broad consensus on many issues despite the harsh and bitter realities of the cold war, both countries strived to move on. The US was instrumental in curbing the spread of nuclear weapons to ex-soviet territories, and thus, with Russia, it completed the denuclearisation of three states, namely, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan. This denuclearisation was perceived as an important milestone to avoid a second world war like situation. The CFE treaty was signed between European countries and Russia, whose main task was to avert a large-scale ground invasion by conventional means. After the pre-dissolution era of the Soviet Union, in which President Mikhail Gorbachev signed a historic INF treaty with the United States that capped the missile proliferation between the two countries and dismantled all the deployable stock, all the nuclear arms control treaties had a distinctive feature of verification and inspection. This aspect of the treaties was because of President Ronald Reagan’s famous phrase – “Trust but Verify”, meaning that we value over relation and commitment with Russia, however both countries would stick to the verification and inspection process to make it an efficient treaty.

There are two classes of treaties between the United States and Russia; one is the Nuclear Weapons Explosion Treaties, while the other is Nuclear Arms Limitation Treaties. The nuclear explosion treaties are now obsolete, but it resulted in a norm through which both states never conducted a hot nuclear test for over half a century.[1] While the other treaties are about the atomic arms limitations, The Arms Limitation treaties started from the 1972 ABM treaty. The same year the SALT I interim agreement was also signed between the two sides, followed by SALT II agreements in 1979.[2]

All these initial arms control limitations agreements were carefully crafted to amend the rising mistrust between both nations. Both Russia and the US were fighting for dominance and influence across the regions. o the United States was battling Communism and was doing anything through wars and by other means to red scare advancement in the world. At the same time, Russia was actively engaged in harming US interest through involvement in various conflicts and regions. This level of mistrust and the hair-trigger environment of the nuclear weapons was scary enough for the officials, the general public, and the leadership in both countries. Keeping in view the fate of Japan after the use of atomic devices, the same visuals were awaiting the US, Europeans and Russian citizens; in the run-up to the arms control treaties, both sides experienced a nuclear war scenario in the form of the Cuban Missile Crisis. Though the threat was finally capped, using the top leadership direct conversations and understanding of situations. Thus both states reverse from the brink of a nuclear war.

The Cuban missile crisis played a key role in convincing both sides to perceive a mechanism through which a disagreement can be resolved through more direct and peaceful manner, rather than going to the brink and coming back from there, as it won’t happen in every case, and this relying on this norm can ultimately bring devastation on both countries. As any slight miscalculation, or situation born out in a highly charged environment with peak mistrust from both sides, will kill any purpose of last-minute negotiations or conversations even at the top leadership level. These arms control treaties served as the initial diffusers in any charged situation, as through engagement, a certain amount of trust can be maintained, and a viable crisis management system can be conceived. The ABM treaty was instrumental in eliminating the mobile-based ballistic system, sea-based system, space and air-based systems; it was a major confidence-building measure for both countries. The mobile-based system scrapping was of vital importance as it allowed the system to go near the national border of Russia, as they are extendable systems beyond their permitted sides.

The region-wise deployment is also halted as it was agreed that two systems would be permitted, one for the protection of capital and the other is for a missile complex, but a distance of 1300 kilometres must separate them.[3] The term ‘ABM system’ was defined in the Treaty as a system designed to counter strategic ballistic missiles or their elements in-flight trajectory.

The ABM treaty gave rise to fixed missile systems, as it was allowed under the Treaty to modernise other systems. But the announcement of the SDI which later became the Star Wars, made a massive dent in the ABM treaty as the Russian accused the US of acquiring technology which can ensure a mass strike at the Soviet Union without fear of retaliation from Moscow. Russia bolstered its radar system in Serbia, while at the same time, the United States pursued its radar programme in Greenland. On the ABM treaty, the agreement signed after the cold war, President Yelstin agreed to deviate from the standard Soviet standpoint and thus accepted the United States right to develop a global anti-ballistic system, to which Russia at first objected and was curious and angry over the developments in the United States.

The ABM treaty was constantly updated, and a consultative summit was arranged in Helsinki in 1997 to update the Treaty.[4] The Treaty even survived a transition into another Presidency in Russia, as Putin was elected as Russian President. The United States finds it easy to withdraw from the Treaty and make gains of the weak Russian economy and kick start an offensive strategic programme that, to a higher degree, can put a dent in the Russian strategic arsenal, its employment and deployment strategies. After a US withdrawal from the ABM treaty Moscow mulled a range of responses to level the strategic parity by gradually receding its compliance with the CFE treaty.[5] The Russian end of compliance was largely seen as a preparation for adventure. As feared, Russia entered Georgia and overran a country in a matter of days occupying its capital, which invited stark criticism from the West. The ABM treaty’s successive modernization efforts bear more incredible fruits for both sides.

It could have been more viable in the current times, but strategic compulsions and a newly found place in global affairs influenced US behaviour. After the Cold War, Russia remained a top ally of the United States in the war on terror. Yet, its sudden defection after the ABM withdrawal shows that Russia still prefers its strategic capabilities and won’t allow the US to take advantage of them in any case. This is why Russia is now referred to as the bully or revisionist power by many Western experts. Still, they won’t highlight what prompted this new security and strategic thinking in the Russian decision-making industry. The INF Intermediate nuclear forces treaty recently scrapped by Donald Trump was a cornerstone of cooperation between the Soviet Union and Russia.[6] It later became a viable tool for European Security in renewed Russia’s strategic assertion over the EU and NATO.

The INF Treaty obligations required eliminating all classes of the Intermediate and short-range ballistic missile system. Yet, the Treaty was highly in favour of the US as the Soviet Union agreed to destroy record numbers of missiles. The SORT treaty or Strategic Offensive Reduction Treaty was a prelude to the New Start Treaty SORT called for limitation on the number of operational nuclear warheads ranging between 1700 to 2000.[7] SORT Treaty was a signed agreement between the two countries, as according to experts, the United States and Russia are not equal partners. The United States thus has considerable influence over Russians, so such a Treaty will only bolster the image of Russia as a primary nuclear weapons state. The Treaty was not an arms reduction treaty, as there was no provision for the destruction or elimination of nuclear warheads and weapons systems. Still, both the countries can keep it at the storage facility or non-operational base.

New Start Treaty an Overview

The New Start treaty was signed in Prague on the 8th of April in 2010; the treaty was the first significant arms reduction treaty since the cold war and played a huge role in strengthening overall arms control architecture. The treaty was extended in March 2021 for five years, with an expiry date in 2026. The New Start has sixteen articles:

Article 1. It is about the obligation of both parties to reduce nuclear warheads.

Article 2. Calls on each Party to reduce and limit its ICBMs and ICBM launchers, SLBMs and SLBM launchers, heavy bombers, ICBM warheads, SLBM warheads.

Article 3. is about the parity of SLBM and ICBM systems

Article 4. It is about the deployment at bases

Article 5. It is about the Bilateral Consultative Commission to raise any objection and find its resolution.

Article 6. It is about the Verification of the conversion of weapons systems

Article 7. It is about the databases of warheads (destroyed) .

Article 8. It is about advance notification of any development

Article 9. It is about the exchange of telemetric information.

Article 10. It is about Verification and compliance and calls for non-concealment of facts and details by adhering to the international law of treaties.

Article 11. It is about the right of inspection of weapons facilities

Article 12. It is about acceptance of the authority of the Bilateral Consultative Commission.

Article 13. Prohibits the sharing of information obtained from each Party with any third party that is not part of this treaty.

Article 14. Treaty must be a part of the national law, ratified by the senate.

Article 15. It is about amendments and extensions.

Article 16. This treaty is registered pursuant to Article 102 of the Charter of the United Nations.

New START’s core articles addressed the complexities of nuclear weapons technology.  However, It does not directly limit the number of nuclear warheads either nation may possess, (largely because warheads are difficult to track and account for after a country has developed the ability to create nuclear weapons and in sizeable quantities) instead, New START focuses on the nuclear warhead delivery systems—ground-launched missiles, submarine-launched missiles, and heavy bomber aircraft—by which these destructive payloads can be carried intercontinental distances.  New START limits the number of these systems each nation may possess (up to 800) and deploy (up to 700), as well as the number of warheads that can be mounted on them (up to 1,550).

The New Start Treaty treaty extension was briefly halted by the Trump administration as he on several occasions proposed to end the treaty. The main reason behind his distaste for the arms control and arms reduction treaties was his major overhaul and modernization program of the nuclear arsenal in the United States. Apart from that, he had a controversial plan to start hot atomic testing.

The resumption of nuclear tests will weaken the arms reductions efforts but have more significant consequences for global climate actions. Trump also withdrew the US from the Paris Climate Agreement, giving more space to new powers like China to utilise the forum in the absence of American leadership.[8]

Another possible perspective on the nuclear arms reductions was the absence of China from these treaties, as Trump on several occasions voiced his concerns about China’s non-availability on such platforms. The Chinese Foreign Ministry rejected this claim by calling on the US to limit its arsenal to the level of the Chinese nuclear arsenal.[9] Then China will enter talks with the US and Russia, though satirical. Still, it’s a fact that Russia and the United States have nuclear warheads that number hundreds of thousands, while China has a very modest nuclear arsenal in terms of the warhead. However, its delivery systems are far more lethal and available in large numbers. However, there is still no parity between China and the United States regarding nuclear warheads and nuclear delivery systems. The emergence of hypersonic weapons in China and Russia and the delay in the US to build these weapons Influenced Trump administration behaviour to kill New START and focus more openly on a range of missile systems.

In total, Trump announced withdrawal from over 12 treaties and accords in his four-year terms; three of those treaties are related to nuclear weapons and European security architecture. The Trump administration, keeping in view the Russian hypersonic missiles, wanted to negotiate the terms of the treaty but failed. His highly arrogant approach towards reviving the treaty left Russian unhappy, and they walked away, leaving the treaty at the brink of collapse. Still, as soon as Biden is elected to office, he announced his plans to renew it for another five years, as it is in the greater interest of the United States.[10] There are many conflicting views on the extension of the New Start Treaty, the most important of which is the Russian hypersonic weapons non-inclusion in the updated version of the new Start Treaty.

The Biden administration announced that due to the short time available to renew the treaty, the issue would be taken in the coming meetings with Russia to include these weapons systems in the New Start. Still, it will be done keeping in view the US national interests because the US itself is actively pursuing a hypersonic missile programme. On the eve of the extension of the New Start treaty, the Russian Foreign minister expressed their willingness that Russia will welcome any such initiative to put a hypersonic weapons system into the New Start fold. Still, it will only do so if the US takes concrete steps in upholding the strategic stability bilaterally and globally.[11]

Why hypersonics are not included in the New Start Treaty

The reason why Hypersonics were not included in the New Start has three primary reasons.

  • Military aspect
  • Ongoing Nuclear Arms Race
  • China factor.
  • The Military aspect.

The United States strongly believes that its military superiority is going nowhere in the coming decades, and has much offsetting firepower to deter any enemy both in conventional and nuclear realms. It traditionally dominated the global military technology supply chains, due to its alliance with Europe, where most countries produced high-end military technologies. The US controls most of the trade, with its export control restrictions, on both military as well other new technologies that can give their adversaries an edge in any future conflict.[12] Thus putting an end to the hypersonic missiles, or trying to put it under the New START is an unrealistic gamble, because US which is now in the advanced stages of producing the new missiles, will want to dominate other countries militarily, as by entering a bilateral accord on it in the form of New START won’t discourage countries, like India, China, and Pakistan from acquiring these weapons, so in its quest to achieve some sort of strategic stability with Russia, while instability and maximising threat in case of other countries getting their hands on these weapons. Currently, under article 4 of the New Start Treaty, the US is under obligation to keep the offensive arms out of any third territory, these provisions apply vis a vis Russia, while it directly nullifies the overall strategic advantage of the US in comparison to other adversaries. Though some of the officials think that it is in the best interest of the United States to compel Russia to enlist the Hypersonics in the NEW START, this position is likely to backfire in the short term keeping in view the rising strategic competition with Russia in other sectors such as space and in the naval domain.

The Nuclear Arms Race

The United States is in the advanced stages of modernising its nuclear submarines SSBN fleet, the Ohio class submarines, which up until now served as the most credible second-strike capability spread out in the depth of Oceans.[13] The US trillion-dollar Triad program is a crucial link in its nuclear modernization. The US policy as of now is to wait and watch as many Russian claims regarding the Hypersonic missiles are yet to be verified, on the other hand New START renewal gave the United States a chance to save the only existing nuclear arms control treaty, while the entire architecture of arms control is now in tatters. The vertical proliferation between the major powers is now in full swing. It needs careful deliberations from all the stakeholders, bilaterally perceiving the cap on hypersonic missiles will devoid US of vital military tools, to defend itself and its allies. Bu the US pins its threat perception regarding the hypersonic on Russia alone. In that case, it may be helpful in resurrecting a fallen arms control regime. Still, it will lose a certain degree of advantage in dealing with other nuclear powers that are free of any obligations.

China factor

Trump’s fixation on China regarding the new start treaty shows a real strategic mindset of the United States, as China usually hides behind the parity paradox but never shows its true strength in the delivery systems, including the hypersonic missiles.[14] Any inclusion or capping of the hypersonic capability will give China immense power to double its effort and in the span of a few decades reverse the very notion of damage limitation and altogether kill the US nuclear superiority, Russia too will face the same fate, as both US and Russia will be in concert to achieve such scenario. Trump assertions are that when China is expanding its ICBM forces and directing more missiles towards the US cities, at the same time, the United States, along with Russia, is trying to scrap its ICBMs.

Proposed Policy

The United States needs to adopt a coherent approach towards limiting the spread of hypersonic missiles; the missiles are still perceived as a mirage in the strategic community. According to most experts, the missile efficiency is falsely exacerbated to create a hype of hypersonic missiles. There are substantial proliferation concerns of these missiles; even in conventional terms, any future proliferation will have grave implications for US national security. Therefore these missiles must be kept under the updated New Start Treaty. The recent economic sanctions can be used as leverage in this case. Russia, desperately waiting for an olive branch, can give the United States what it wants and bring the loss of arms control into this world.[15] Trump’s highly radical approach was contrary to proliferation concerns as he was entirely fixated on China in this regard.[16] An inside dispute resolution mechanism in the form of the Bilateral Consultative Commission can address the terminology of hypersonic missiles. More outstanding leadership commitment is needed to achieve an INF style breakthrough when all of the SRM and IRBM missiles were scrapped, in which the highest numbers were from Russia. Before the INF, those weapons were mostly directed at the European capitals, but a few years after the INF, the missile bodies were mostly in museums. Decades of arms control engagement between the two countries helped both sides to assess and verify each other’s intent in the face of readily available capability. The gravest risks of a surprise nuclear attack is now a thing of the past, as credibility shown by the Russian strategic forces in the aftermath of the dissolution of the Soviet Union. Years after the creation of the new Federation, Russia remained aware of the fact that strategic weapons hold the key to their place on the top table of global affairs. Thus the United States, with a series of high-level summitry engagements, can start a negotiation process on the inclusion of hypersonic weapons into the New Start Treaty. The Negotiation process needs no new blueprints as the treaty is already in place; it needs only a consultation process on all the levels of the military, diplomatic and economic levels to assure a much-needed entry of the hypersonic missiles in the New Start Treaty.

[1] “Nuclear Tests Violate International Norm | Arms Control Association.” n.d. Accessed May 4, 2021.

[2] “Arms Control.” 2021. SAGE Publications Ltd. May 4, 2021.

[3] 2 ibid

[4]  2 ibid

[5] Complutense De Madrid, Universidad, and España Savelyev. n.d. “”. Accessed May 4, 2021.

[6] Welle (, Deutsche. n.d. “Opinion: Scrapping the INF Treaty Is Risky — and a Lost Opportunity | DW | 02.08.2019.” DW.COM. Accessed May 4, 2021.

[7] “The Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) at a Glance | Arms Control Association.” n.d.

[8] Zhang, Hai-Bin, Han-Cheng Dai, Hua-Xia Lai, and Wen-Tao Wang. 2017. “U.S. Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement: Reasons, Impacts, and China’s Response.” Advances in Climate Change Research 8 (4): 220–25.

[9] Piliero, Raphael J. 2020. “China and the INF: Is There a Future for U.S.-China Arms Control?” U.S.-China Perception Monitor. November 5, 2020.

[10] Hudson, John. n.d. “Biden Administration to Seek Five-Year Extension on Key Nuclear Arms Treaty in First Foray with Russia.” Washington Post.

[11] “Russia Ready for Hypersonic Missile Talks with US, Says Lavrov.” n.d. Accessed May 4, 2021.

[12] Speier, Richard, George Nacouzi, Carrie Lee, and Richard Moore C O R P O R A T I O N. n.d. “Hypersonic Missile Nonproliferation Hindering the Spread of a New Class of Weapons.” Accessed May 5, 2021.

[13] “MIRVs from the First to the Second Nuclear Age.” n.d. Accessed May 5, 2021.‌

[14] Detsch, Robbie Gramer, Jack. n.d. “Trump Fixates on China as Nuclear Arms Pact Nears Expiration.” Foreign Policy.

[15] Ibid 17

[16]James, Guy Faulconbridge, William. 2017. “Trump’s Offer to Russia: An End to Sanctions for Nuclear Arms Cut – London Times.” Reuters, January 16, 2017.

The writer is a graduate of National Defence University Pakistan. His research interests include Arms Control Verification, Compliance and Enforcement, Humanitarian Arms Control, Export Controls and Disarmament Machinery.

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Concepts of Time in Israel’s Defense Policy

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Israel Defense Forces. Image source: Wikipedia

“Clocks slay time.”-William Faulkner, The Sound and the Fury

Some facts speak for themselves. For Israel, no arena of national decision-making is conceivably more important than defense and security. Nonetheless, this primary arena is still dominated more by technical weapon-system considerations than by any meaningful regard for advanced conceptual thought. A particularly worrisome example of this self-defeating domination concerns policy-relevant concepts of time.

               Why? It’s not a difficult question. Despite Israel’s continuous success on the “hardware” side of national defense – success that is both enviable and irrefutable –  it remains difficult to discover any pertinent philosophical underpinnings. With notably few exceptions, the published product of the beleaguered country’s defense-centered think tanks displays little or no deep-seated erudition. This product, though commendably “professional,” could have been developed by engineers, mathematicians and computer scientists who never consulted a scintilla of philosophy, literature, art or poetry.[1]

               In this unfortunate regard, Israel has made itself into an America microcosm. Now, already, the tangible world of Israel’s defense community is one that exemplifies what Jose Ortega y’Gasset called “the barbarism of specialization.”[2] Significantly, by the Spanish philosopher’s own design, it was a purposeful nomenclature of lamentation.

               There is much more to understand. To explore defense/security-related ideas, Israeli analysts could begin with suitably reinvigorated concepts of time. But any such beginning would first require acknowledgements in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv that “defense time” should always be experienced palpably, differentially, as subjective duration. In essence, for Israel’s national security planners, “real time” ought never to be interpreted solely in terms of clock measurement.[3] Because “clocks slay time,” any such interpretation would prove simplifying and injurious.

               Further clarifications are in order. Seemingly reasonable objections to what is being proposed here would be raised against any “fanciful” (non-objective) metaphysics of time.  Inter alia, it would likely be argued here that this is not the right moment for Israeli planners to immerse themselves in any abstract complexities of chronology. After all, they would inquire, aren’t Israel’s core security problems unmistakably tactical or “practical?”

               There is one plainly proper response to such a query. As every serious scientist understands, nothing is more practical than good theory. It follows that carefully fashioned theories of time could not only assist pragmatic foreign policy decision-making in Israel; they could also prove indispensable.

               For military decisional calculations, Israeli securityanalyses should always contain certain core elements of chronology. Accordingly, Israel’s many-sided struggle against war and terror will need to be conducted with more intellectually determined and conspicuously nuanced conceptualizations of time. Though seemingly “impractical,” such “felt time” or “inner time” conceptualizations could reveal more about Israel’s existential security challenges than would any “objectively” numbered intervals on clocks.

               There is an evident historical irony to this observation. The notion of “felt time” or time-as-lived has its actual or doctrinal origins in ancient Israel. By rejecting time as simple linear progression, the early Hebrews already approached chronology as a qualitative experience. Once dismissed as something that can submit only to quantitative measures, time began to be understood by early Jewish thinkers as a specific subjective quality, one inherently inseparable from personally infused content.

               On its face, such classical Hebrew logic or logos could accept no other point of view. For Israel’s present-day national security defense planning, it’s a perspective worthy of prompt policy-making resurrection. Yet, no such resurrection could possibly emerge ex nihilo, out of nothing. First, there would have to take place a far-reaching recommitment to intellect, learning and “mind.”[4]

                In world security matters, of course, time is not exclusively or necessarily about Israel. For American national security defense planners currently focused on Vladimir Putin and Russian crimes against humanity,[5] the ancient Hebrew view of time could prove clazrifyingly useful. Vladimir Putin’s cumulative decisions on aggressive war[6] against Ukraine could stem more-or-less directly from his own personal metaphysics of time.[7]

               From its beginnings, the Jewish prophetic vision was one of a community living in time and under a transcendent God. Political space in this immutable vision was vitally important, but not because of any territoriality issues per se. Instead, the relevance of space – today, Israelis and Palestinians are apt to speak of “land” – stemmed from certain unique events that had presumably taken place within now-sanctified boundaries.

               For present-day Israel, the space-time relationship reveals at least two major defense/security policy implications. First, any considered territorial surrenders by Israel (Judea/Samaria or “West Bank”) would reduce the amount of time Israel has left to resist war and terrorism. Second, and similarly unassailable, some past surrenders, especially when considered “synergistically,”[8] had provided extra time for Israel’s enemies to await optimal attack opportunities.  

               For Israel, still faced with recurrent war and terror on several fronts, the strategic importance of time can be expressed not only in terms of its unique relationship to space, but as a storehouse of memory. By expressly recalling the historic vulnerabilities of Jewish life, Israel’s current leaders could begin to step back sensibly from a seemingly endless pattern of lethal equivocations. Ultimately, such policy movements could enhance “timely” prospects for a durable peace.

                Eventually, a subjective metaphysics of time, a reality based not on equally numbered chronological moments but on deeply-felt representations of time as lived, could impact the ways in which Israel chooses to confront its principal enemies. This means, among other things, struggling to understand the manner in which enemy states and terror groups chooseto live within time. For the moment, any such struggle would have to be undertaken without any credible expectations of analytic precision or accuracy.

                If it could be determined that particular terrorist groups now accept a shorter time horizon in their continuous search for “victory” over Israel, any Israeli response to enemy aggressions would have to be swift. If it would seem that this presumed time horizon was calculably longer, Israel’s response could still be more or less incremental. For Israel, this would mean relying more on the relatively passive dynamics of military deterrence and military defense[9] than on any active strategies of war fighting.[10]

               Of special interest to Israel’s prime minister and general staff should be the hidden time horizons of a Jihadist suicide bomber. Although a counter-intuitive sort of understanding, this martyrdom-focused adversary is overwhelminglyafraid of death. In all likelihood, he or she is so utterly afraid of “not being” that the correlative terrorist plan for “suicide” is actually intended to avoid death. In terms of our present investigation of time and Israeli national security decision-making, “martyrdom” is generally accepted by hard-core Muslim believers as the most honorable and heroic way to soar above the mortal limits imposed by clocks.

               A key question dawns. As a strategy or tactic for Israel, how can such a perplexing acceptance be meaningfully countered? One promising way would require prior realization that an aspiring suicide bomber see himself or herself as a religious sacrificer. This would signify an adversary’s “escape from time” without meaning, a move from “profane time” to “sacred time.”

                There is more. Abandoning the self-defiling time conceptualizations of ordinary mortals, the martyrdom-seeking suicide bomber seeks to to transport himself or herself into a rarefied world of “immortals.” For him or her, and from “time to time,” the temptation to “sacrifice” despised “infidels” upon the altar of Jihad can become all-consuming. Among Israelis, prima facie, this murderous temptation by familiar enemies is well recognized.

               What should Israel do with such an informed understanding of its adversaries’ concept of time? In principle, at least, Jerusalem/Tel Aviv’s immediate policy response should be to convince prospective suicide bombers that their intended “sacrifice” could never elevate them above the mortal limits of time. But first the would-be sacrificers would need to convince themselves that they are not now living in “profane time,” and that killing of “infidels” or “apostates” could not offer the Jihadist power over death.[11]Such power, it goes without saying, is the greatest conceivable form of power.

               By definition, no other form of power could possibly seem more attractive.

               No such complex task of self-persuasion could ever prove easy.

               Soon, Israeli policy-makers will need to recognize certain dense problems of chronology as religious and cultural quandaries. They will also need to acknowledge to themselves that any search for promising peace plans must be informed by intellectual understanding and genuine Reason,[12] not just the transient considerations of domestic politics or global geopolitics.

               “As earthlings,” asserts Hoosier author Kurt Vonnegut, “all have had to believe whatever clocks said.” As national security decision makers, Israeli strategic thinkers now have it in their power to look beyond the simplifying hands of clocks and affirm more authentically clarifying meanings of time. For them, exercising such latent power could represent a defense/security policy decision in the optimal direction. First, however, they would need to be reminded that serious national security planning is always more than just a technical, tactical or weapon-system matter.

               Going forward, Israeli planners should take calculated steps to ensure that policy-related concepts of time include vital elements of subjective duration. Otherwise, taken in isolation, clocks could only undermine more substantial understandings of chronology. In essence, clocks do represent a universally agreed upon paradigm of what should inform national security decision-making. What they do not represent, however, are usable standards for crisis decision-making processes. In circumstances where their calculable measurements are not finely interpreted, clocks would only “slay time.”

[1] “Yesterday,” warns Samuel Beckett, in his analysis of Proust, is not a milestone that has been passed, but a daystone on the beaten track of the years, and irremediably a part of us, heavy anddangerous.”  By this warning, the prescient playwright would likely have understood Israel’s chronology-based risks and obligations. Sometimes, therefore, as we may learn from the creator of Waiting for Godot, military imperatives are better understood by the poet than the strategist.

[2] See by the twentieth century Spanish existentialist philosopher, The Revolt of the Masses, Chapter 12 (1930). See also, by Professor Louis René Beres, at Modern Diplomacy:

[3] In contrast to “inner time” or “felt time,” clock time is unable to recognize that human beings react not to variously disconnected points in their mental constructions, but to instantaneous sections of an indefinite temporality. From the ancient era of Hebrew prophets and the pre-Socratic Greek philosopher Heraclitus, humans have acted upon time as universal flow, as a state of continuing transformation.

[4] In the 17th century, French philosopher Blaise Pascal remarked prophetically in Pensées: “All our dignity consists in thought. It is upon this that we must depend…Let us labor then to think well: this is the foundation of morality.” Similar reasoning characterizes the writings of Baruch Spinoza, Pascal’s 17th-century contemporary. In Book II of Ethics, Spinoza considers the human mind or “intellectual attributes,” and drawing from René Descartes underscores a comprehensive endorsement of human learning. Later, French poet Guillaume Apollinaire, in The New Spirit and the Poets (1917)clarifies further: “It must not be forgotten that it is perhaps more dangerous for a nation to allow itself to be conquered intellectually than by arms.”

[5] See, by this author, at JURIST  Louis René Beres:

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

[7] In a worst case scenario, such decisions could lead to nuclear war with the United States. For authoritative accounts by this author of nuclear war effects, many of them synergistic, see: 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, Mass., Lexington Books, 1983); Louis René Beres, Reason and Realpolitik: U.S. Foreign Policy and World Order (Lexington, Mass., Lexington Books, 1984); and Louis René Beres, Security or Armageddon: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy (Lexington, Mass., Lexington Books, 1986). Most recently, by Professor Beres, see: Surviving Amid Chaos: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy (New York, Rowman & Littlefield, 2016; 2nd ed. 2018).

[8] On synergies, see, by this author, Louis René Beres, at Harvard National Security Journal, Harvard Law School: See also, by Professor Beres, at Modern War Institute, West Point:

[9] See Professor Louis René Beres and General (USAF/ret.) John T. Chain, “Could Israel Safely Deter a Nuclear Iran”? The Atlantic, 2012; Professor Beres and General Chain, “Israel and Iran at the Eleventh Hour,” Oxford University Press (OUP Blog, 2012); Louis René Beres and Admiral (USN/ret.) Leon “Bud” Edney, “Facing a Nuclear Iran, Israel Must Re-Think its Nuclear Ambiguity,” US News & World Report, 2013; and Louis René Beres and Admiral Edney, “Reconsidering Israel’s Nuclear Posture,” The Jerusalem Post, 2013. General Chain was Commander-in-Chief, US Strategic Air Command (CINSAC). Admiral Edney was NATO Supreme Allied Commander, Atlantic (SACLANT).

[10] Nuclear war fighting should never represent an acceptable strategic option for Israel. Always, Jerusalem’s nuclear weapons and doctrine should be oriented toward deterrence, not actual combat engagements. This conclusion was central to the Final Report of Project Daniel: Israel’s Strategic Future, ACPR Policy Paper No. 155, ACPR, Israel, May 2004, 64 pp. See also: Louis René Beres, “Facing Iran’s Ongoing Nuclearization: A Retrospective on Project Daniel,” International Journal of Intelligence and Counterintelligence, Vo. 22, Issue 3, June 2009, pp. 491-514; and Louis René Beres, “Israel’s Uncertain Strategic Future,” Parameters: Journal of the US Army War College, Vol. XXXVII, No.1., Spring 2007, pp, 37-54. Professor Beres was Chair of Project Daniel (PM Sharon).

[11] See, by this author, Louis René Beres:

[12] The critical importance of Reason to legal judgment was prefigured in ancient Israel, which accommodated the core concept within its special system of revealed law. Jewish theory of law, insofar as it displays the evident markings of a foundational Higher Law, offers a transcending order revealed by the divine word as interpreted by human reason.  In the words of Ecclesiastes 32.23, 37.16, 13-14:  “Let reason go before every enterprise and counsel before any action…And let the counsel of thine own heart stand…For a man’s mind is sometimes wont to tell him more than seven watchmen that sit above in a high tower….”

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The impact of the China-India border tensions on Pakistan’s regional security

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Image source: India Today

The border tensions between China and India have been a long-standing issue, with both countries claiming ownership over a region known as the Galwan Valley. The tensions between the two countries have been escalating over the past few years, with both sides engaging in military build-ups and clashes along the disputed border. The ongoing tensions have had a significant impact on regional security, particularly for Pakistan, which shares borders with both China and India. In this article, we will explore the impact of the China-India border tensions on Pakistan’s regional security.

Firstly, the China-India border tensions have created a strategic dilemma for Pakistan, which has traditionally maintained close ties with China but has also had a difficult relationship with India. As the tensions between China and India escalate, Pakistan finds itself in a difficult position, as it must balance its relationships with both countries while also safeguarding its own security interests. On the one hand, Pakistan’s close relationship with China provides it with a strategic advantage, particularly as China has become a major economic and military power in the region. However, Pakistan must also be careful not to become overly reliant on China, as this could undermine its relationship with India and other countries in the region.

Secondly, the China-India border tensions have led to increased military activity along Pakistan’s border with India, particularly in the disputed region of Kashmir. Pakistan has long been involved in a territorial dispute with India over the Kashmir region, which has led to frequent clashes and military build-ups along the border. The recent tensions between China and India have added another layer of complexity to the situation, as both countries have increased their military presence in the region. This has created a heightened sense of insecurity for Pakistan, as it must now contend with the potential for conflict with both China and India along its borders.

Thirdly, the China-India border tensions have had economic implications for Pakistan, particularly in relation to its relationship with China. China is Pakistan’s largest trading partner and has invested heavily in the country’s infrastructure, particularly through its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The ongoing tensions between China and India have created uncertainty for Pakistan’s economy, as it remains unclear how the tensions will impact China’s investments and trade relationships in the region. Additionally, India’s efforts to boycott Chinese goods have created opportunities for Pakistani businesses, but this has also led to concerns about the impact of the tensions on regional trade and economic cooperation.

Fourthly, the China-India border tensions have created a broader sense of instability in the region, which could have implications for regional security and stability. The tensions between China and India have led to increased militarization and competition in the region, which could escalate into conflict if tensions continue to rise. Additionally, the tensions could create opportunities for other countries to become involved in the region, which could further exacerbate tensions and destabilize the region.

Finally, the China-India border tensions have had implications for Pakistan’s relationship with other countries in the region, particularly with respect to its relationship with the United States. The United States has traditionally been a close ally of Pakistan, but its relationship with India has also been growing in recent years. The ongoing tensions between China and India have added another layer of complexity to the situation, as Pakistan must navigate its relationships with both countries while also maintaining its relationship with the United States.

The ongoing tensions between China and India have had significant implications for regional security, particularly for Pakistan. The tensions have created a strategic dilemma for Pakistan, which must balance its relationships with both countries while also safeguarding its own security interests. The tensions have also led to increased military activity and economic uncertainty for Pakistan, as well as a broader sense of instability in the region. Ultimately, it will be important for all countries in the region to work towards finding a peaceful resolution to the border tensions, in order to ensure continued regional security and stability. This will require a concerted effort from all parties involved, including China, India, and Pakistan, as well as other countries in the region and the international community.

One possible solution to the border tensions could be for all parties involved to engage in diplomatic negotiations and seek a peaceful resolution to the dispute. This could involve the use of third-party mediators or international organizations, such as the United Nations, to facilitate negotiations and find a mutually acceptable solution. Another option could be for all parties to work towards de-escalating tensions and reducing militarization along the border, in order to create a more stable and secure environment for all countries in the region.

It will also be important for Pakistan to continue to pursue a balanced and proactive foreign policy, which takes into account the changing dynamics in the region and seeks to promote regional security and stability. This could involve further strengthening Pakistan’s relationship with China, while also seeking to improve its relationship with India and other countries in the region. Additionally, Pakistan could work towards diversifying its economy and reducing its reliance on China, in order to mitigate the economic risks posed by the ongoing tensions.

In conclusion, the China-India border tensions have had a significant impact on regional security, particularly for Pakistan. The tensions have created a strategic dilemma for Pakistan, led to increased military activity and economic uncertainty, and created a broader sense of instability in the region. However, there are opportunities for all parties involved to work towards finding a peaceful resolution to the dispute and promoting regional security and stability. It will be important for Pakistan to continue to pursue a proactive and balanced foreign policy, which takes into account the changing dynamics in the region and seeks to promote cooperation and dialogue between all countries involved.

Furthermore, the ongoing border tensions between China and India have highlighted the need for a more comprehensive approach to regional security in South Asia. The region is already facing numerous challenges, including terrorism, cross-border violence, and geopolitical rivalries. The tensions between China and India only exacerbate these challenges and create new risks for regional stability.

Therefore, it is imperative for all countries in the region to work together towards a shared vision of regional security and stability. This will require a willingness to engage in dialogue and cooperation, as well as a commitment to respect each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

Ultimately, the China-India border tensions serve as a reminder of the complex and interconnected nature of international relations in today’s world. No country can exist in isolation, and the actions of one country can have significant implications for others. It is only through cooperation and collaboration that we can hope to build a more peaceful and stable world.

In this regard, Pakistan has a crucial role to play in promoting regional security and stability. By pursuing a balanced and proactive foreign policy, engaging in dialogue and cooperation with all countries in the region, and promoting economic diversification and development, Pakistan can contribute to a more stable and prosperous South Asia.

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Indian Conventional and Strategic Arms Buildup: Implications for Pakistan

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South Asia’s regional dynamic is both flamboyant and intricate. Various empires have formed, prospered, and perished over the millennia, as innumerable conflicts and struggles for control of resources spread over the globe. However, 2021 was a year of fierce weapons competition between South Asia’s nuclear neighbors, India and Pakistan, who carried out 26 missile tests. India launched 16 ballistic and cruise missiles while Pakistan tested 10 missiles with nearly identical capabilities.

As a response to the perceived inability of the Indian Armed Forces (IAF) to adequately respond to the Pakistani insurgencies, and after the failure of the Indian forces to quickly react and mobilize their forces in 2001, the Indian Army and the defense policymakers realized the lack of modernized and consistent army doctrine. This resulted in the announcement by the Indian Army in 2004 of a new limited war doctrine known as the Cold Start Doctrine (CSD).

Importance of Air Base

The importance of air superiority can be witnessed by looking at the six days of the Arab-Israeli War, in which the Israeli forces pre-empted an attack from the bases of Jordan, Syria, Egypt, and Iraq, and struck the air force before the fight even began. The outcome of the war was determined during its first hours. By destroying the opposing air fleet, Israeli forces gained air superiority, and thus the Arab forces were helpless in their efforts, which eventually resulted in a humiliating defeat for the Arabs.

Indian Air-Bases: A Strategic Threat

In the contemporary era, military forces are going for weapon systems that require absolutely no time at all when it comes to striking a target. In that regard, the air force comes first for the obvious reason that its threshold is low as compared to a ballistic missile strike. Indian force deployment and employment are very close to Pakistan’s borders, from Siachen to the Rann of Kutch. In India’s most recent attack on Balakot, which took place in 2019, the air force was utilized. This clearly shows the Indian resolve to use the air force in any future blatant aggression like the one in February 2019.

The Indian air force deployment is tailor-made for Pakistan. If one analyzes the airbases/airstrips positioning and range from the Pakistani-Indo international border, the Line of Control (LOC), and the working boundary, it is quite obvious that the positioning shows the aggressive posture of the Indian Air Force. When deployed at those bases, the aircraft are the finest in the Indian military, both in terms of their quality and serviceability. When it comes to the up-gradation of the base’s facilities, this is the top priority list that is visible to everyone. In May 2021, the bases in Pakistan got priority.

The bases are positioned in such a strategy to cover every city in Pakistan, as it has no strategic depth. Pakistan’s major cities, like Karachi, Lahore, Multan, Faisalabad, Hyderabad, Bahawalpur, Rahim Yar Khan, Sialkot, and even the capital, Islamabad, are within the Indian Air Force’s reach. The same goes for the areas in Kashmir and Gilgit Baltistan.

Future Threat Scenario

Now the question arises what will happen in the future in light of past historical data? The answer to this is both simple and complex. It is simple in the context that the IAF will target Pakistan with its pre-defined strategy of naked aggression against peaceful neighbors, while the Indian Army is following a pro-active offense posture; the complex part is where, when, and how.

The IAF will utilize the war scenario created by the Indian government and Indian media after a staged terrorist attack on a civilian or military target, for which they will put full blame on the Pakistani state and security apparatus. They will try to raise the temperature to the point where the Indian civil establishment shows the world community that now enough is enough and our people are demanding a counter-strike. At that time, the Indian establishment will use its media to put blame on Pakistan and create a war-like scenario while raising tensions.

In light of that, the IAF, under the orders of the Indian government, along with the Indian army, will start attacking the Pakistani bases in the early moments of the war because if the IAF does not target PAF bases, then there will be grave consequences for the Indian army, and the Pakistani army also has additional fire support bases. The above-mentioned rationale will be the main cause of the IAF attacking the PAF infrastructure, thus undermining the national security of Pakistan. The Indian army, with the IAF, will aspire to rapid, shallow penetration of Pakistani territory, without crossing the nuclear threshold of Pakistan. The Indian military will go for a quick and short battle that will surprise Pakistan because that is the only possible strategy in their minds when talking about limited war scenarios or showing off war.


The IAF is a major threat to the national security of Pakistan in the wake of its alignment with the Indian military’s CSD. The operational exercises conducted in the past and the recent strikes at Balakot exhibit the growing role of the IAF in the Indian military offensive strategy against Pakistan. Vast parts of Pakistan are within the combat radius of the IAF’s operational fighters because of Pakistan’s lack of strategic depth.

The IAF will try to use this as an advantage to support the pro-active and offensive strategy of the Indian Armed Forces to harm Pakistan, as that would be their prime objective because of their hegemonic designs. In order to protect itself from India’s flagrant military aggression, Pakistan should take some protective measures.


In the wake of the growing IAF threat, the PAF and Pakistani government should take the following measures on an urgent basis:

  • Build some new airstrips along the border with India, to balance the threat by not allowing an IAF advantage in any sector. Moreover, the building of airstrips requires less money; thus this step will not put a strain on Pakistan’s economy;
  • Buy more advanced surveillance radars to detect early IAF movement.
  • Purchase advanced surface-to-air missiles to create a defensive barrier;
  • Go for indigenizing the modern, state-of-the-art 5th generation fighter aircraft, as buying from foreign suppliers is very expensive.
  • Ask the international community to put pressure on both sides to sign confidence-building measures that will lead to peace and stability.
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