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Facing Myriad Enemies: Core Elements of Israeli Nuclear Deterrence

Essays
Louis Rene_Beres

The study of war reveals both continuities and discontinuities. Today, such study instructs that the most starkly apparent discontinuities can be discovered in our steadily enhanced powers of physical destruction, most notably nuclear weapons technologies. As for continuities, the most obvious are those unchanging general principles that concern offense versus defense and, as a corollary, the inevitable primacy of intellectual power. What follows is a timely examination of these war-related principles within the particular and potentially time-urgent context of Israeli nuclear deterrence. Throughout history, at the end of any military conflict, the winning side will have succeeded somehow in accomplishing the triumph of"mind over mind." Since the ancient times of Greek and Macedonian warfare, derivative considerations of"mind over matter" have been relegated to a reflective or merely epiphenomenal importance. The reason for this is that the critically core battlefield, as ancient Chinese strategist Sun-Tzu had already observed, must always be located in a reality-setting contest of human intellect.1 It follows that, for any modern state, fashioning an appropriate strategic theory or dialectic is necessarily prior to achieving any operational success on the battlefield.