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  Vol. 3  /  April 2004                                  A JOURNAL OF POLITICS AND THE ARTS      



    The Final Report of Project Daniel

    April 2004

 FOREWORD by Professor Louis René Beres, Chair

Further to the issuance of The National Security Strategy of the United States of America on September 20, 2002, US President George W. Bush launched Operation Iraqi Freedom in March of the following year. The results of that war, still substantially unclear at the time of this writing, derive from a greatly broadened American assertion of the right of unilateral preemption. A conceptual and implemented right, it expands the binding and well-established customary prerogative of “Anticipatory Self-Defense”a under international law. Although there have as yet been no subsequent legal codifications of this new American expansion, the precedent established by the world’s only remaining Great Power is certain to impact the actual policy behavior of other states. Not surprisingly, many in the international community have criticized this new policy. Yet history is replete with examples where nations have correctly reserved unto themselves the right of preemption when they have determined that their vital national interests, or very existence, were under threat.

In short, whether or not the presumptively expanded right of striking-first as self-defense will soon become a generally accepted norm of authoritative international law, this right will, in practice, likely acquire enhanced credibility and legitimacy. Even if the broadened idea of anticipatory self-defense does not achieve the status of a peremptory norm as defined at Article 53 of The Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties,b it will be invoked more often by certain imperiled states. In this connection, the growing spread of weapons of mass destruction throughout the world – now exclusively to unstable and undemocratic states – fully underscores the broadened doctrine.

Israel’s Strategic Future: the Final Report of Project Daniel, was completed in mid-January 2003, several months before commencement of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Nothing associated with America’s 2003 war against Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq or the still ongoing conflict within that fragmented country suggests a changed reality for Israel and the Middle East. On the contrary, the “lessons” of Operation Iraqi Freedom demonstrate not only that our Final Report remains valid, but that its validity has been significantly enhanced. Today, more than ever before, the State of Israel – a state so small that it could fit twice into America’s Lake Michigan – must include appropriate preemption options in its overall defense strategy. Vastly more vulnerable to catastrophic first-strike aggressions than the United States, Israel must prepare now for existential harms in every available fashion. Consistent with The National Security Strategy of the United States of America and the strategic objectives of Operation Iraqi Freedom, Israel has an inherent right to defend itself without first absorbing biological and/or nuclear attacks. This is true irrespective of the cumulative outcome of Operation Iraqi Freedom or of particular criticisms now directed toward the United States.

Project Daniel began with the assumption that Israel’s security environment must be appraised continuously, and that the threat of irrational state and nonstate enemies armed with WMD assets represents the single most urgent danger to the countrys survival. Early on in our deliberations, however, we (“The Group”) agreed that while the overall impact of this threat was extraordinarily high, its probability was considerably less than that of WMD assaults from rational enemy quarters. Reflecting this judgment, we concluded that Israel’s main focus must now be on preventing a coalition of Arab states and/or Iran from coming into possession of weapons of mass destruction. Preferably, we urged this objective be pursued while Israel continues with its present policy of deliberate ambiguity regarding its own nuclear status. We also concluded that the classic paradigm of war between national armies could become less predictive in the developing Middle East, and that an Israeli “paradigm shift” is therefore required. This shift in orientation and resources would place new emphases on short-range threats (terrorism) and long-range threats (ballistic missiles and weapons of mass destruction). Here we also recommended a corresponding reduction in the resources Israel should now allocate to classical warfighting scenarios. Today, at the end of April 2004 – 15 months after our presentation of Israel’s Strategic Future to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon – we strongly reaffirm these recommendations.

Our Group notes emphatically that Israel should avoid non-conventional exchanges with enemy states wherever possible. It surely is not in Israel’s interest to engage these states in WMD warfare if other options exist, but rather to create conditions wherein such forms of conflict need never take place. Israel’s Strategic Future does not instruct how to “win” a war in a WMD Middle-East environment. Rather, it describes what we, its authors, consider the necessary, realistic and optimally efficient conditions for nonbelligerence toward Israel in the region. Altogether unchanged by Operation Iraqi Freedom, these conditions include a coherent and comprehensive Israeli doctrine for deterrence, defense, warfighting and preemption.

Our precise strategic theses, validated by the 2003 Iraq War and its aftermath, are intended to aid policymakers in bringing stability and predictability to a troubled region.

Following the main body of Israel’s Strategic Future, which remains exactly as it was completed originally in January 2003, a newly-prepared “Addendum” will bring the reader up-to-date with current circumstances and allow him or her to better understand the Final Report in full and proper historical context. It is strongly suggested, therefore, that the reader consider this brief annex as an integral part of Israel’s Strategic Future.

Louis René Beres, Ph.D.
Professor of International Law
Purdue University
Chair of Project Daniel


a   The right of anticipatory self-defense under international law was established by Hugo Grotius in Book II of The Law of War and Peace (1625). Here, Grotius indicates that self-defense is permissible not only after an attack has already been suffered, but also in advance – “where the deed may be anticipated”. Or as he says later in the same chapter: “It be lawful to kill him who is preparing to kill...” A similar argument is offered by Samuel Pufendorf in his treatise, On the Duty of Man and Citizen According to Natural Law (1672). The customary right of anticipatory self-defense has its modern origins in the Caroline incident, which concerned the unsuccessful rebellion of 1837 in Upper Canada against British rule (a rebellion that elicited sympathy and support in the American border states). Following this event, the serious threat of an armed attack has generally been taken to justify militarily defensive action. (See J. Moore, A Digest of International Law 409 (1906)). Today some scholars maintain that the customary right of anticipatory self-defense expressed by the Caroline has been overridden by the specific language at Article 51 of the UN Charter. In this view, Article 51 fashions a new and far more restrictive statement of self-defense, one that does rely on the literal qualifications contained in the phrase, “...if an armed attack occurs”. This interpretation ignores, however, that international law cannot logically compel a state to wait until it absorbs a devastating or even lethal first strike before acting to protect itself. And the argument against the restrictive view of self-defense is reinforced by the well-documented weakness of the Security Council in undertaking collective security action against a prospective aggressor. For supportive positions on the particular reasonableness of anticipatory self-defense in the nuclear age, see: Louis Henkin,, International Law: Cases and Materials 933 (1980) (Citing Wolfgang Friedmann, The Threat of Total Destruction and Self-Defense 259-60 (1964); Joseph M. Sweeney et. al., The International Legal System: Cases and Materials 1460-61 (3rd ed., 1988) (citing Myres McDougal, The Soviet-Cuban Quarantine and Self-Defense, 57, American Journal of International Law 597, 598 (1963)).

b  Concluded at Vienna, May 23, 1969, Entered into force, January 27, 1988, 1155 U.N.T.S. 331; 1969 U.N.J.Y.B. 140; 1980 U.K.T.S. 58, Cmnd 7964; reprinted in 8 I.L.M. 679 (1969).

    Israel’s Strategic Future
    Project Daniel
    Final Report

    Prepared Especially for Presentation to the Hon. Ariel Sharon
    Prime Minister of the State of Israel
    January 16, 2003

Project Daniel is a private and informed effort to identify the overriding existential threats to Israel and their prospective remedies. These remedies must be both plausible (capable of achievement) and productive. With this in mind,  the Group met in both Washington DC and  New York City on several occasions during 2002. In the periods between meetings, members of the Group regularly exchanged information. The result of this effort is conveyed in the following Final Report: Israel's Strategic Future. The perspectives expressed in this document are those of the individual members, and do not necessarily reflect views of any institution or government. Our hope is that Project Daniel’s unique configuration of member background and experience will contribute to the strengthening of US-Israel strategic relations and to the ongoing debate over how Israel should best respond to existential threats to its national security.

The Group is comprised of the following individual members:

Professor Louis René Beres, Chair, USA

Naaman Belkind, Former Assistant to the Israeli Deputy Minister of Defense for Special Means, Israel

Maj. Gen. (Res.), Israeli Air Force/Professor Isaac Ben-Israel, Israel

Dr. Rand H. FishbeinFormer Professional Staff Member, US Senate Appropriations Committee, and former Special Assistant for National Security Affairs to Senator Daniel K. Inouye, USA

Dr. Adir Pridor, Lt. Col. (Ret.), Israeli Air Force; Former Head of Military Analyses, RAFAEL, Israel

Fmr. MK./Col. (Res.), Israeli Air Force, Yoash Tsiddon-Chatto, Israel



Executive Summary

  1. Considering issues of both probability and disutility (harms), the principal existential threat to Israel at the present time is a conventional war mounted against it by a coalition of Arab states and/or Iran.

  2. Israel is also endangered (presently or potentially) by Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), nuclear and/or biological weapons that could be used against it either by enemy first-strikes or via escalation from conventional war. Israel’s particular vulnerability to such weapons is a consequence of its tiny area, its high population density and its national infrastructure concentrations. We recommend, therefore:

    1. Israel do whatever possible to prevent an enemy coalition from being formed and from coming into possession of WMD. This could include pertinent preemptive strikes (conventional) against enemy WMD development, manufacturing, storage, control and deployment centers. This recommendation is consistent both with longstanding international law regarding “anticipatory self-defense” and with the newly-stated defense policy of The United States of America.

    2. Israel should continue with present policy of ambiguity regarding its own nuclear status. This would help to prevent any legitimization of WMD in the Middle East. It is possible, however, that in the future Israel would be well-advised to proceed beyond nuclear ambiguity to certain limited forms of disclosure. This would be the case only if enemy (state and/or non-state) nuclearization had not been prevented.

    3. Israel should provide all constructive support to the United States-led War Against Terror (WAT). It must insist upon aiding the American objective to prevent/eliminate WMD among rogue states and terror groups in the Middle East. There is a clear coincidence of interest between Israel and the United States in matters of security and counter-terrorism.

    4. Israel must do everything within its means to prevent a Middle Eastern rogue state or terror group from attaining WMD status. Irrespective of its policy on nuclear ambiguity vs. disclosure, Israel will not be able to endure unless it continues to maintain a credible, secure and decisive nuclear deterrent alongside a multi-layered anti-missile defense. This recognizable (second-strike) retaliatory force should be fashioned with the capacity to destroy some 15 high-value targets scattered widely over pertinent enemy states in the Middle East. The overriding priority of Israel’s nuclear deterrent force must always be that it preserves the country’s security without ever having to be fired against any target. The primary point of Israel’s nuclear forces must always be deterrence ex ante, not revenge ex post.

  1. If WMD status were attained by any Middle Eastern rogue state or coalition of states, the probability of joint-enemy conventional attack against Israel would be raised considerably. Faced with adversaries who now might believe themselves shielded under a WMD “umbrella”, Israel would have to do the following:

  1. Maintain its conventional forces at full war-waging strength and with a decisive qualitative edge. Hopefully this would be accomplished with full material support from the United States, whose interests would be coincident with Israel’s interests.

  2. Adapt its planning priorities and budgetary requirements to the “paradigm shift” described later in this Report. In this connection, Israel is urged to reduce the priority it assigns to conventional warfighting without impairing its undisputed superiority against any plausible enemy coalition.

  1. The Group is aware that many of its strategic recommendations are contingent upon adequate funding. Should the substantial funds needed by Israel to deal with so-called “Low Intensity” and Long-Range WMD threats be sought via increased taxation, it could threaten Israel’s economy and (ironically) undermine Israel’s security in other ways. To deal purposefully with these threats (threats which are delineated in this Report’s following presentation of “paradigm shift”), Israel’s government must trim all nonproductive costs and seek to encourage dramatic increases in productivity. The resultant rise in per capita GNP could allow the needed increase for Israel’s national defense.


The Existential Threat to Israel

In an age of Total War, Israel must remain fully aware of threats to its very continuance as a viable state. With such awareness, Israel has always recognized an imperative to seek peace through negotiation and diplomatic processes wherever possible. This imperative, codified at the United Nations Charter and in multiple authoritative sources of international law, shall always remain the guiding orientation of Israel’s foreign policy.

When Israel’s search for peaceful settlement of disputes is not reciprocated, however, it must be prepared to deal with a wide range of existential threats. Taken literally, the idea of an existential threat implies harms that portend complete annihilation or the disappearance of the state. The Group feels, however, that certain forms of both conventional and unconventional attack against large Israeli civilian concentrations would constitute an existential threat. Although such forms of aggression are clearly criminalized by longstanding rules of Humanitarian International Law, Israel must:

  1. Acknowledge that these rules have often been ignored by certain Middle Eastern adversaries; and

  2. Take appropriate protective steps involving deterrence, active defenses, passive defenses, and preemption.

Regarding preemption, international law has long allowed for states to initiate forceful measures when there exists “imminent danger” of aggression. This norm of “anticipatory self-defense” has been expanded and strongly reinforced by President Bush’s recent issuance of The National Security Strategy of the United States of America. Released on September 20, 2002, this document asserts, inter alia, that traditional concepts of deterrence will not work against an enemy “whose avowed tactics are wanton destruction and the targeting of innocents...”, and that “We must adapt the concept of imminent threat to the capabilities and objectives of today’s adversaries.” This “adaptation” means nothing less than striking first where an emergent threat to the United States is judged to be sufficiently unacceptable.

As Israel is substantially less defensible and more vulnerable than the United States of America, its particular right to resort to anticipatory self-defense under threat of identifiable existential harm is beyond legal question. Moreover, as Israel’s ties to the United States are strong and unambiguous, so too are the strategic interests of the two countries tightly interwoven.

Certain WMD attacks upon Israeli cities could be genuinely existential. For example, biological or nuclear attacks upon Tel Aviv that would kill many thousands of Israeli citizens could have profound and dire consequences on the continued viability of the country.

A recent report by the Washington-based Heritage Foundation examined the effects of an Iraqi WMD attack on Tel Aviv.1 In one scenario, a single Iraqi missile carrying 500 kilograms of botulinum would kill approximately 50,000 individuals. In another scenario, an Iraqi missile fitted with 450 kilograms of VX nerve gas would kill 43,000 people. If left to develop nuclear warheads, Iraqi missiles could kill hundreds of thousands of Israelis.

The Group notes three distinct but interrelated existential threats:

  1. Biological/Nuclear (BN) threats from states;

  2. BN threats from terror organizations; and

  3. BN threats from combined efforts of states and terror organizations.

To the extent that certain Arab states and Iran are allowed to develop WMD capabilities, Israel may have to deal with an anonymous attack scenario; that is, a situation wherein the attacking state does not identify itself and where Israeli identification of the perpetrator is problematic. Overall, there is a “force multiplier” issue for Israel to face, a situation in which multiple attacks upon Israel from various configurations of state and non-state adversaries create a pattern of harms that is greater than the sum of its parts. Regarding effective deterrence of such situations, the Group feels that Israel must identify explicitly, and early on, all enemy Arab states and Iran, as subject to massive Israeli reprisal in the event of BN attacks upon Israel. In doing so, the Israeli deterrent posture would closely mirror that of the United States towards the Soviet Union during the Cold War. 

Since the terror attacks of September 11, 2001, the US has made it clear that it reserves the right to use all available weapons in response to any attack upon its soil by an adversary using Weapons of Mass Destruction. (The Bush Administration told Congress, on December 11, 2002, that it is now the policy of the United States to use “overwhelming force”, including nuclear weapons, if chemical or biological weapons are used against America or its military forces. The threats are contained in a six-page document identified as National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction). Israel, in our view, should follow a similar policy.

Existential threats to Israel may be exacerbated further by Arab/Iranian leaders whose actions, by Western standards, might be deemed irrational. Faced with enemy leaders who do not value national and/or personal self-preservation more highly than any other preference or combination of preferences, Israeli deterrence could be immobilized and security could be based largely upon the success or lack of success of prior preemption efforts.

Under such circumstances, a policy of Mutual Assured Destruction (MAD) which was once obtained between the United States and the Soviet Union would not work between Israel and its Arab/Iranian adversaries. Rather, the Group understands that Israel must prevent its enemies from acquiring BN status and that any notion of BN “parity” between Israel and its enemies would be intolerable. The ratios of physical size 800:1, population 55:1, and political clout 22:1 UN votes between Israel and its enemies, and some of the latter’s’ utterly zero-sum concept of conflict with Israel (a concept currently allowing for no possibility of compromise and reconciliation) means that Israel’s survival is contingent upon avoiding parity at all costs. With this in mind, we strongly believe that Israel immediately adopt – with highest priority – a policy of preemption with respect to enemy existential threats. Such a policy could also enhance Israeli deterrence to the extent that it would reveal the country’s expressed willingness and resolve to act as needed.

Recognizing the close partnership and overlapping interests between Israel and the United States, the Group fully supports the ongoing American War Against Terror. In this connection we urge full cooperation and mutuality between Jerusalem and Washington regarding communication of intentions. If for any reason the United States should decide against exercising preemption options against certain developing weapons of mass destruction, Israel must reserve for itself the unhindered prerogative to undertake its own anticipatory self-defense operations.

The Group began its deliberations with the following concern: Israel faces the hazard of a suicide-bomber in macrocosm. Here, in this scenario, an enemy Arab state and/or Iran would act against Israel without ordinary regard for retaliatory consequences. In the fashion of the individual suicide bomber who acts without fear of personal consequences – indeed, who welcomes the most extreme personal consequence, which is death – an enemy Arab state and/or Iran would launch WMD attacks against Israel with full knowledge and expectation of overwhelming Israeli reprisals. The conclusion to be drawn from this scenario is that deterrence vis-à-vis “suicide states” would have been immobilized by enemy irrationality and that Israel’s only recourse in such circumstances would have been appropriate forms of preemption.

The Group is also concerned about a particular variant of this scenario wherein an enemy state or combination of states does not actually seek or welcome massive Israeli reprisals, but – because of the vast demographic advantage over Israel – is willing to accept huge losses because Israel’s losses would be relatively even greater. If the enemy state or states were to calculate that it could afford a 1-to-1 exchange with Israel, it/they could literally compel Israel’s losses to be in the high existential range. The prospect of such an enemy calculation underscores Israel’s ultra sensitivity to enemy weapons of mass destruction and its imperative to adopt a policy of preemption whenever possible.



The Group recognizes a basic asymmetry between Israel and the Arab/Iranian world. This asymmetry concerns attitudes toward the overall desirability of peace; the absence of democratic regimes in the Arab/Iranian world; the acceptability of terror as a legitimate weapon by the Arab/Iranian world; the zero-sum conception of conflict vis-à-vis Israel held by some states of the Arab/Iranian world; the overwhelming demographic advantage of the Arab/Iranian world; and the greater tendency of the Arab/Iranian world to make mistakes in strategic calculations. Taken as a whole, these asymmetries point toward an intemperate Arab/Iranian plan for protracted war against Israel that is wedded to an unquenchable desire by some to develop Weapons of Mass Destruction for use in this war.

In view of the above-mentioned asymmetries, non-conventional exchanges between Israel and adversary states in the Middle East must be avoided. It is not in Israel’s interests ever to engage in WMD warfare with these adversary states. Therefore; Israel must maintain conventional supremacy in the region. This will be indispensable to maintaining the threshold of WMD warfare at the highest possible level.


Paradigm Shift

The classic paradigm of war between national armies is becoming less relevant in the present Middle East. In time, it can be made more efficient for Israel to increase the emphasis on high-tech solutions (thereby expending fewer resources).

Traditionally, short-range threats (terrorism) and long-range threats (ballistic missiles and WMD) have been under-evaluated.

The strategic paradigm for Israel must now shift to meet the expanding threats from terrorism and long-range WMD attacks. In doing so, of course, there must be a corresponding reduction in the resources Israel can devote to classical warfighting.

Modern technology should allow Israel to reduce its defense expenditure while maintaining or even enhancing effectiveness and lethality in classical warfighting. Critical to this transformation in warfighting doctrine are a range of new technologies such as a drastic increase in weapons’ lethality (ton x miles per target destroyed) achieved through increased range, precision, warhead efficiency; EW and other defenses; reduced IR and RF signatures and on course + final percussion (data link) feed-back. Efficient use of sophisticated weapons is only possible if pre- and post-strike, real time intelligence, both tactical and strategic is available and accurate, and if strike command, control & communications are computer interfaced with real time intelligence (C4I).

The Group understands that terror and WMD threats reflect a relative weakness in both “flanks” of the allocation graph. Resources should be allocated to technologies against those who conduct terror as well as the infrastructures that support them. Such effective technologies are already in existence.

The Group recalls the following relevant technologies against strategic threats: Anti-ballistic missiles; warning satellites; strike UAVs (BPLI); long-range deployment forces; and “long-arm” capability (to be discussed in greater detail further on in this Report).

The paradigm shift has worldwide implications.

As stated above the Group feels that:

  1. Israel must do whatever is needed to keep the Middle East non-BN, including conventional preemptive strikes against enemy facilities for developing and producing BN weapons;

  2. Israel should not stimulate or provoke or in any way legitimize enemy development of BN weapons; it should, therefore maintain its current posture of deliberate ambiguity as long as possible;

  3. Israel must strongly support the American War Against Terror (WAT), urging that destruction and prevention of nonconventional capabilities in the Arab/Iranian Middle East remain Washington’s overriding objective. In the event of an American/Israeli failure to prevent BN deployment in a hostile country or countries in the Middle East, Israel will have to maintain and declare a deterrent nuclear arsenal. This would necessarily involve precise and identifiable steps to fully convince enemy states of Israel’s willingness and capacity to use its nuclear weapons.

The Group is concerned about time-lapses in Arab/Iranian nuclearization. Some current thinking points to short durations needed for an enemy state to achieve a given level of nuclear capability, thus creating a sense of real urgency. Others have preferred long estimates, thereby identifying emergent enemy nuclear threats as still far-off in the future. We suspect that Arab/Iranian development stages will be rather long (that is, consistent with parallel processes in other states and regions of the world), while phases of acquisition and building-up of arsenals after the first pieces have been put into place will be relatively short. We suggest, therefore, that Israeli policy not refer to “a period wherein some Arab states possess just a few nuclear devices”. Such a period would inevitably be rather brief, and Israel could not dwell productively on having sufficient time, under such circumstances, for long processes of response.

The Group identifies the following list of phases with typical expected durations.

Some, but not all of these phases, may be simultaneous:

  • Develop a (laboratory) nuclear fission device – 10 years

  • Develop a fusion device (having fission technology) – 10 years

  • Prepare strategic materials for a nuclear device – 10 years

  • Develop an air bomb (weapon system) – 8 years

  • Develop a long-range missile – 12 years

  • Fit a nuclear warhead into a missile – 8 years

  • Build an arsenal of 100 bombs (after the first) – 4 years

  • Build an arsenal of 100 nuclear missiles (after the first) – 4 years

  • Build a distributed system of missile launchers – 5 years

  • Operate a fleet of nuclear missile submarines – 12 years

The above list of phases offers a rough idea of the amount of time Israel might have for preparations at each declared and verifiable stage of Arab/Iranian nuclear build-up.

The Group also offers informed judgments concerning the types of weapons for Israeli preemptive operations. We reject the argument that nuclear weapons are necessarily required for preemption of enemy nuclear capability. Conventional means are generally much more effective than nuclear devices for this purpose. Even if nuclear weapons are fully available for preemption, and even if their use would be consistent with authoritative international law, conventional weapons would be preferable wherever possible against emergent enemy nuclear capabilities.

The Group recognizes there is also the additional advantage of acting preemptively against enemy BN capabilities without escalating to a BN war in the Middle East. The tools for preemptive operations would be novel, diverse and purposeful; for example, long-range aircraft with appropriate support for derived missions; long-range high-level intervention ground forces; long-endurance intelligence-collection systems; long-endurance unmanned air-strike platforms, and so on.

The Group bears in mind that once achieving BN status, enemy states in the Middle East region could:

  1. Launch unconventional war against Israel; or

  2. Launch conventional or low-intensity war against Israel under the counter-deterrent “umbrella” of their Weapons of Mass Destruction. To prevent such a scenario, wherein Israel could presumably be deterred from retaliation by threats of unacceptably-damaging enemy counter-retaliations, Israel should maintain its “qualitative edge” with assistance from the United States and adapt itself to the aforementioned Paradigm Shift. Under these circumstances, Israel must have conventional superiority against its Arab/Iranian enemies even under cuts recommended by the paradigm shift, and its defense budget must consistently support such needed superiority. More than ever before, the first Basic Point in Israel’s Security Doctrine needs to be remembered and respected: “Israel cannot afford to lose a single war.”

Conceptually, in examining the persuasiveness of Israeli nuclear deterrence, we must distinguish sharply between threats of enemy low- intensity/conventional attack and threats of enemy nuclear/BN attack. But as the most serious enemy conventional attacks would be launched against Israel by states with a backup BN capability, the persuasiveness of Israeli nuclear deterrence will always have to be assessed vis-à-vis enemy BN weapons.


Maintaining Israel’s Qualitative Edge

The Group underscores that Israel’s conventional supremacy over all adversaries and combinations of adversaries must be maintained. Israel’s qualitative edge is the only means by which it can compensate for a fixed and irreversible quantitative inferiority. This means, inter alia, the following expectations for the Israel Air Force (IAF):

  • Israel will have to maximize its long-range, accurate, real-time strategic intelligence.

  • Israel will have to maximize the credibility of its second-strike capability.

  • Israel will have to develop, test, manufacture and deploy a BPI (Boost Phase Intercept) capability to match the operational requirements dictated by enemy ballistic missile capacities (performance and numbers.)

  • Israel must begin to rely heavily on recoverable and non-recoverable UAVs, stealthy or otherwise, for such tasks as defense suppression, decoys, EW in all of its aspects, intelligence gathering and strike. GPS navigation must also be emphasized.

  • Israel must maximize its traditional combat and auxiliary manned force and equip it optimally.

  • Israel will have to assume operational responsibility for a second-strike capability, whether deployed on land or at sea, while ensuring an essential unity of command.

 The Group emphasizes that Israel must remain in a position to win any war conventionally. In order to prevent a nuclear Middle East, Israel needs an ever-higher level of qualitative edge. There is, of course, a mutuality of interest here with the United States of America.

Israel’s needed identification and funding of particular elements that offer its forces a qualitative edge should be consistent with our prescribed “Paradigm Shift”. As this objective has been a continuing commitment of successive American administrations, and is also substantially dependent upon United States support, the Group recommends that the following key questions be researched and explored:

  1. What steps should be taken to better integrate Israel’s capabilities with validated US military requirements?

  2. What constitutes a healthy industrial base for Israel, and what is needed to ensure Israel’s ability to meet emerging strategic threats?

  3. With a declining defense budget (expressed as a percentage of GDP), how will Israel be able to finance not only its next generation of military systems, but also the ongoing War Against Terror (WAT)?

  4. Is restructuring needed in the US-Israel strategic relationship?

  5. How can Israel make better use of US military assistance?

  6. What can be done to eliminate some of the current impediments to US-Israel defense trade?

  7. How can Israel better assist the United States in meeting its requirements in homeland defense, counterterrorism and the WMD threat?

  8. What strategic forces will Israel require to meet the long-range threats to its security, and how will the country be able to finance these forces? These may include extended-range attack aircraft, expanded missile defense, extended aerial refueling, long-range special ground intervention forces and enhanced space-based C4I capability. In the best of all possible fiscal worlds, Israel would also seek to fund a blue ocean naval presence, but this option is presently precluded by defense budget constraints.

  9. What is needed to harden Israel’s current defensive and offensive forces to make them sufficiently invulnerable to enemy first strikes?

  10. How can Israel minimize the trade-off between operational readiness and force modernization?

  11. How should Israel readjust its defense strategy to take into account the possibilities of an expanded US military presence in the Middle East?

  12. What should Israel conclude about growing threats posed by particular enemy State modernizations?

  13. What should Jerusalem offer Washington in support of future US military operations in the Middle East?

  14. Should there be an enhancement of Israel’s major non-NATO status as an ally of the United States?

The group feels that it is essential for Israel to get US support in ongoing defense projects designed to enhance Israel’s future overall deterrence:

Israel’s Arrow missile defense system (prime contractor IAI) involves various arrangements with US Boeing. The IAF, which operates the Arrow, will likely meet its goal of having 200 interceptors in inventory on schedule. Arrow managers also hope to sell their product to certain other States; this would help Israel to reinforce its qualitative edge. Israeli engineers are taking steps to ensure that Arrow will function alongside American Patriot systems. The Group feels that IAF should continue working on external and internal interoperability issues.

In its effort to create multi-layered missile defense system architecture, it may be that Israel is already working on an unmanned aircraft that could hunt down and kill an enemy’s mobile ballistic missile launchers. Israeli military officials have tried to interest the Pentagon in joining the launcher-attack project, known as boost-phase launcher intercept (BPLI), but Washington is focused on alternative technologies. The Group feels that Israel could do BPLI with or without US support, but gaining such support would allow the project to move forward much more rapidly. Enlisting US support for BPLI would represent another important step toward maintaining Israel’s qualitative edge.

The Group believes that the United States should participate technologically and financially in Israel’s multi-layered  missile defense efforts as fully as possible. Israel’s priorities and timetables are especially time-urgent, and the end-product benefits of such American participation would be shared by both countries. The Group emphasizes the importance of multi-layered  defenses for Israel – aiming longer-term at BPI or BPLI – but affirms strongly that Israel should act preemptively before there is a destabilizing deployment of unconventional enemy assets.


War Against Terror

Further to the Group’s suggestions concerning Paradigm Shift, we believe in the overriding importance, to Israel’s security, of the ongoing, US-led War Against Terror (WAT). This War, of course, must be fought not only at the level of the terrorist organizations directly, but also against the various “rogue states” that support and sustain these organizations. From the standpoint of international law, WAT is a clear expectation and requirement for all civilized states.

In the previously-cited document, The National Security Strategy of the United States of America (September 20, 2002), President George Bush affirms:

Our priority will be first to disrupt and destroy terrorist organizations of global reach and attack their leadership; command, control, and communications; material support; and finances... We will continue to encourage our regional partners to take up a coordinated effort that isolates the terrorists. Once the regional campaign localizes the threat to a particular state, we will help ensure the state has the military, law enforcement, political and financial tools necessary to finish the task.

The President continues: “While our focus is protecting America, we know that to defeat terrorism in today’s globalized world we need support from our allies and friends.” The Group advises that Israel offer such support to the United States to the fullest extent possible, and – reciprocally – that Israel seek from the United States whatever assistance and resources that America can provide. America’s WAT is Israel’s war, and Israel’s WAT is America’s war. The interests of our two countries in this matter coincide completely.

Middle East stability in general, and Israeli security in particular, will be affected by the outcome of the WAT. Impairment of worldwide terror capabilities and enemy unconventional weapons capabilities is linked directly to Israeli security. By moving forcefully and preemptively against pertinent military targets, the United States would help to prevent a WMD conflagration in the Middle East, one that could spill over outside the region. It would also inform the world community about the need for, and lawfulness of, similar defensive actions by the State of Israel. The Group further believes that any such indirect benefit of the American WAT could reinforce crucial ties between Washington and Jerusalem, strengthening various patterns of essential mutual assistance between the two allies.

The Group agrees that victory in the WAT (a full realization of President Bush’s stated objectives in The National Security Strategy of the United States of America) would be an optimal antecedent of subsequent independent actions by Israel. We understand as well that no clear and verifiable criteria of “victory” are readily identifiable. Rather, the WAT will necessarily be fought amidst considerable ambiguity of outcome; therefore, it would be a mistake for Israel to await an American victory in this theatre before committing itself to needed defensive options. In effect, such a delaying posture by Israel would likely preclude altogether actions needed against existential harms.

It is very likely that after any American-led war against Saddam Hussein's Iraq, accurate assessments of damage to Saddam's developing WMD infrastructures and associated intellectual assets would be problematic. The objective must be to eliminate these infrastructures and assets entirely, and to prevent any still-planned Iraqi steps toward WMD manufacture and deployment. Moreover, a principal objective of any US military action against Iraq must be the removal of Saddam Hussein, although it is not by any means clear that such removal would necessarily end all pertinent dangers emanating from that country. In the best of circumstances for Israel, US armed forces will succeed in neutralizing both Saddam’s developing WMD infrastructures/associated intellectual assets and Saddam himself. Here, depending upon:

  1. Informed post-war assessments of Iraq’s remaining WMD capacities;

  2. Its remaining capability to develop or acquire such capacities, and

  3. The nature of the successor regime in Baghdad, Israel may decide to shift its existential concerns to other regional threats. Special attention must be directed in this regard to expanding nuclear trade between Russia and Iran; to Egyptian plans to build a nuclear power plant near Alexandria, and to recent intelligence about Libya’s efforts in the nuclear arena. Israel’s decision here will be contingent to some extent upon precise military outcomes of the American war on terror.



Following the Bush Administration’s September 20th reaffirmation of anticipatory self-defense and its broadened emphasis on preemption in the War Against Terror, Israel should now adopt a similar policy. The Group suggests that such policy pertain to WMD/BN threats, and that – wherever possible – it be entirely conventional in nature. Preemption may be overt or covert, and range from “decapitation” to full-scale military operations. Further, decapitation may apply to both enemy leadership elites (state and non-state) and to various categories of experts who are essential to the fashioning of enemy WMD/BN arsenals; e.g., scientists.

The National Security Strategy of the United States of America stipulates that, “We must be prepared to stop rogue states and their terrorist clients before they are able to threaten or use weapons of mass destruction against the United States...” Urging “Proactive, counter-proliferation efforts to deter and defend against the threat before it is unleashed”, the document makes clear that America no longer has the only option to rely on reactive postures. “We cannot,” says the President, “let our enemies strike first.”

The preemption imperative applies even more strongly to Israel. More than any other state, Israel’s failure to shift purposefully to codified counter-proliferation policies could have fully existential consequences. This shift must be immediate. The Group suggests strongly and unequivocally that conventional Israeli preemption against selected enemy nuclear infrastructures now in development be executed as early as possible, and – wherever possible – in collaboration with the United States. Where America may be unable or unwilling to act proactively against these infrastructures, it is essential that Israel be able and willing to act alone.

The Group reminds its readers that prevention or delay of enemy nuclear deployment would be profoundly different from preemption of an already-existing enemy BN force. Such issues as time horizon; target types; operation concurrence; disclosure and certain others must be analyzed separately for the two contexts. Attempts at preemption against an enemy that has been allowed to go nuclear may be too risky and may invite an existential retaliation.

The group distinguishes between two types of preemptions:

  1. Preemption against nuclear installations capable of eventually producing nuclear weapons, and

  2. Preemption in the battlefield (In most cases before hostilities start).

It is understood that both types of preemptions be carried out by conventional high precision weapons, not only because these weapons are more effective than nuclear weapons, but because preemption with nuclear weapons could be considered as Israeli nuclear first strikes. If not successful, these strikes could elicit an enemy’s counter-value second strike with all its existential ramifications.


Tactical Weapons and Other Warfighting Considerations

The Group believes that development of a nuclear warfighting capacity for Israel (counterforce-targeting) should be avoided as far as possible. There is no operational need for low-yield nuclear weapons geared for actual battlefield use. There is no point in spreading (and raising costs) Israel’s effort on low-yield, tactical nuclear weapons given the multifaceted asymmetry between Israel and its adversaries. Overall, the most efficient yield for Israeli deterrence, counterstrike and deployment purposes is a countervalue-targeted warhead at a level sufficient to hit the aggressor's principal population centers and fully compromise that aggressor's national viability. The Group urges that Israel make every effort to avoid using nuclear weapons in support of conventional war operations. These weapons could also create a seamless web of conventional and nuclear battlefields that Israel should avoid.

The Group opposes the creation of “Red Lines” concerning use of tactical nuclear weapons. These Red Lines could be eroded by a political establishment encouraged to use the “easy” nuclear way out of military dilemma, thus occasioning premature escalation to nuclear war. Red Lines might also be eroded within the military itself, if IDF elements were to prompt any unauthorized use of the weapons at their disposal. In our judgment tactical nuclear weapons and doctrine would increase instability without offering Israel any real strategic advantage.

Consistent with the basic presumption of enemy rationality, the Group considers it gainful for Israel to plan for regime-targeting in certain instances and circumstances. With direct threats employed against individual enemy leaders and possible others, costs to Israel (and to the Arab populations oppressed by the targeted regimes) could be very substantially lower than alternative forms of warfare. Simultaneously, threats of regime targeting could be even more compelling than threats to destroy enemy hard targets, but only if the prospective victims were made to feel sufficiently at risk. We understand that regime-targeting by Israel is unlikely unless a pattern will first be established by the United States in the expanding War Against Terror.

The Group offers a final set of suggestions concerning anticipatory self-defense. Israel must be empowered with a “Long Arm” to meet its preemption objectives. This means long-range fighter aircraft with capability to penetrate deep, heavily-defended areas and to survive. It means air-refueling tankers; communications satellites; surveillance satellites; long-range UAVs. More generally, it means survivable precision weapons with high lethality; it also means substantially refined EW and stealth capabilities. Individually, the need for these assets is already well-known. What is new and important here in the Group’s suggestion is the recommended configuration of these assets.



Operational deterrence is essential to Israeli security in all situations and circumstances. If, for whatever reason, Israel fails to meet its preemption goals and enemy states acquire nuclear capacity, it will have to reconceptualize deterrence to conform to the vastly more dangerous geostrategic context. The Group affirms, again, that Israel’s primary objective must always be to prevent enemy nuclear weapons in the Middle East, but if this mission is unrealized it suggests the following: Israel should immediately end its posture of nuclear ambiguity and take steps toward purposeful disclosure of its own nuclear assets and doctrine. Such disclosure, of course, would be limited to those aspects needed to underscore the survivability and penetration-capability of its nuclear forces and the political will to launch these forces in retaliation for certain forms of enemy aggression.

The Group understands that Israel must always do whatever it can to ensure a secure second-strike nuclear capability that is recognized by all pertinent enemy states. This means that once nuclear ambiguity is brought to an end, nuclear disclosure would play a crucial communicative role. The essence of deterrence lies in the communication of capacity and will to those who would do Israel great harm. The actual retaliatory use of nuclear weapons by Israel would signify the failure of deterrence. Recalling Clausewitz and Sun-Tzu, the very highest form of military success is achieved when one’s objectives can be met without an actual use of force.

To meet its “ultimate” deterrence objectives – that is, to deter the most overwhelmingly destructive enemy first-strikes, Israel must seek and achieve a visible second-strike capability to target approximately 15 enemy cities. Ranges would be to cities in Libya and Iran, and recognizable nuclear bomb yields would be at a level sufficient to fully compromise the aggressor's viability as a functioning state. The Group points out that Israel must also convince all relevant adversaries that it has complete control over its nuclear forces. The purpose of such convincing would be to reduce or remove any adversarial considerations of preemption against Israel.

The Group notes again that where nuclear targeting is concerned, Israel should focus its resources on counter-value warheads, targeting between 10 and 20 city assets of crucial importance to the enemy, but excluding religious assets wherever possible.

Choosing countervalue-targeted warheads in the range of maximum destructiveness, Israel will achieve the maximum deterrent effect, and will neutralize the overall asymmetry between the Arabs and the state of Israel. All enemy targets should be selected with the view that their destruction would promptly force the enemy to cease all nuclear/biological/chemical exchanges with Israel.

The Group points out that all of its suggestions regarding nuclear weapons are fully consistent with authoritative international law. On July 8, 1996, the International Court of Justice at The Hague handed down its Advisory Opinion on The Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons (pursuant to request made by the General Assembly of the United Nations). The final paragraph of the 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.2

The Group maintains that Israel must display flexibility in its nuclear deterrence posture in order to contend with future adversarial expansions of nuclear weapon assets. It may become necessary under certain circumstances that Israel field a full triad of strategic nuclear forces. For the moment, however, we believe that Israel can manage without nuclear missile-bearing submarines. This belief holds only as long as it remains highly improbable that any enemy or combination of enemies could destroy Israel’s land-based and airborne-based nuclear missiles on a first-strike attack. The Group recognizes that these circumstances could change in the future.

To meet its deterrence needs, Israel must be prepared to:

  1. Fully operationalize an efficient, multi-layered  antiballistic missile system to intercept and destroy a finite number of enemy warheads with the highest possible probability of success and with a reliable capacity to distinguish between incoming warheads and decoys.

  2. Fully operationalize a robust second-strike capability, sufficiently hardened and dispersed, and optimized to inflict a decisive retaliatory salvo against high-value targets.

  3. Continue energetic R&D, service trials, eventual production/deployment of Boost Phase/Boost Phase Launcher Intercept systems to add to multi-layered  defense.

  4. Enhance real-time intelligence acquisition, interpretation and  transmission for instant response.

  5. Provide for accurate, real-time post-strike reconnaissance and assessment.

  6. Provide the required C4I system to handle all above and ground-damage control.

  7. Take all necessary measures to connect the north and south of Israel, bypassing metropolitan Tel Aviv (roads, railways, gas and oil pipelines, water, electricity, telephones, etc); and

  8. Provide population dispersal for an early-warned Tel Aviv.

As a rule Israel will do its utmost never to escalate from the conventional or chemical to the BN. It will do so only as retaliation against an existential attack/first strike by an enemy. Israeli nuclear counterforce first strikes (even for preemption purposes) would be precarious and should be avoided at all costs. For the reasons stated above Israel should also attempt to have very strong conventional, chemical, and biological deterrence capabilities. It should not ever be forced to escalate to the nuclear level for lack of proper response options in lesser capabilities.

Finally, Israel’s deterrence posture must always be founded upon genuine capabilities. In this connection, the Group suggests that Israel always avoid any intended gap (IG) between actual and alleged military capacities. An effort to maintain any IG would be unnecessary and would likely be unsustainable. Moreover, the consequences of any enemy discovery of an Israeli IG would be very destabilizing. If, for example, the IG had been presumed essential to Israeli deterrence, its exposure by an enemy state or states could provoke overreaction by the enemy. Here, the enemy might launch an all-out attack upon Israel under the false presumption that other declared Israeli capabilities were probably fabricated.

From the standpoint of deterrence, there is a deep and meaningful consistency between actual and alleged capabilities. In every aspect of nuclear capability, the declared level, by Israel, should be neither less nor more than the real one. This does not mean, however, that Israeli declarations need to be very specific. Nor does it mean that merely having a nuclear force automatically implies having a credible nuclear deterrence posture. Such a force must always be secure, appropriately destructive and presumptively capable of penetrating any would-be aggressor’s active defenses. 



A policy paper published by ACPR (Ariel Center for Policy Research) in March 2002 raised important concerns about Israel’s deterrent capacities vis-à-vis Iraq or Iran.3 Here, one of our team, Yoash Tsiddon-Chatto linked Israeli security to the US War Against Terror (WAT). At the same time, another member of our group – Louis René Beres – urged the creation of a special ad-hoc effort to advise the Prime Minister of Israel on the growing threat of enemy state and/or terror organization acquisition of WMD. Professor Beres, who has been the Chair of Project Daniel, was initially most concerned about Middle Eastern enemy states who might act as “suicide bombers” writ large; that is, as countries armed with operational biological and/or nuclear weapons. Such states might be willing in certain circumstances to accept collective national “martyrdom” in order to annihilate or bring great destruction to Israel. Although the Group agrees that such a prospect is conceivable, we have concluded that the principal existential threats to Israel are still more likely to come from rational adversaries and that Israel should plan accordingly.

International law is not a suicide pact. Every state has an established right under international law to protect itself from enemy acts of aggression. This right is all the more obvious today, when Weapons of Mass Destruction can inflict existential harms and where aggressors could calculate, correctly or incorrectly, that they can strike without incurring unacceptably damaging retaliations.

The United States of America now recognizes that even the world’s remaining superpower must augment deterrence and defense options with up-to-date expansions of anticipatory self-defense. Following Bush Administration codifications of preemption as doctrine, Israel – a country that is vastly more vulnerable than the United States – should do no less. Seeking, always, to implement peaceful and diplomatic remedies wherever possible, Israel must remain fully aware that its adversaries have very different orientations toward these remedies and that, in certain situations, even threats of overwhelming retaliatory destruction could fail to deter enemy aggression. What we are suggesting here is not merely that Israel remain committed to anticipatory self-defense wherever necessary – after all, such a commitment is already understood – but that Israel now make fully doctrinal commitments to conventional forms of preemption in regard to WMD threats. These unambiguous commitments would be unthreatening and law-enforcing, announcing in advance that Israel, like the United States, has an inherent right to defend itself without first absorbing Biological and/or Nuclear aggressions.

American defense policy under President George W. Bush gathers into one comprehensive whole several interrelated doctrines for deterrence, defense and preemption. Codified during 2002 in The National Security Strategy of the United States of America (September 20, 2002) and National Strategy to Combat Weapons of Mass Destruction (December 11, 2002) this policy offers a coherent doctrine from which specific tactical and strategic options may be suitably derived and implemented. Notwithstanding substantial security differences between our two countries, and the distinct possibility that there will be certain conceptual/operational errors and failures in America's actual execution of the Bush Doctrine in particular venues, a similarly institutionalized doctrine could now serve to enhance Israel's defense posture.

Israel’s strategic future is always a work in progress. This Report has identified various existential threats to this future and appropriate policy responses. The Members of Project Daniel stand ready to offer whatever additional counsel might best serve the security interests of the State of Israel. With this in mind, we respectfully offer this Report to the Honorable Ariel Sharon, Prime Minister.

    Israel’s Strategic Future

    The Final Report of Project Daniel


Israel’s unchanging imperative is to survive in a very hostile neighborhood. Facing both state and non-state enemies in the Arab/Islamic world, some of whom remain relentlessly genocidal toward Israel, the Jewish state must now prepare to systematically harness all resources needed to endure. Above all, this means constructing the optimal conceptual foundations for national strategic survival. With this in mind, and with particular attention to the still-growing dangers of Arab/Islamic nuclearization, the members of Project Daniel offer Israel’s Strategic Future.

When Project Daniel presented its basic document to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on January 16, 2003, Operation Iraqi Freedom had not yet commenced. Today, in April 2004, the war – in one form or another – is more than one-year old and (however one might wish to judge the strategic accomplishments of the conflict) the specific WMD dangers once associated with Iraq are for now, evidently irrelevant. Nevertheless, from the standpoint of Israel’s overall strategic doctrine, the recommendations expressed in Israel’s Strategic Future remain entirely meaningful and timely. Indeed, conceptually, these recommendations are now more important than ever before. We refer here especially to the critically enduring expectations of deterrence, defense, warfighting and preemption doctrine – expectations carefully discussed in the main body of the Report.

Since the presentation of our original document, there have been a few relatively minor “victories” in the indispensable effort to control WMD proliferation among Israel’s enemies. The most obvious case in point is Libya. At the same time, the circumstances in North Korea (which had already participated in a war against Israel, deploying some Mig-21 squadrons to Egypt in the October 1973 “Yom Kippur War”), Iran and Pakistan remain highly volatile and dangerous. At the level of terrorist groups, which are of course sustained by several Arab/Islamic states, new alignments are being fashioned between various Palestinian organizations and al-Qai`dah. The precise configurations of these alignments are complex and multifaceted, to be sure, but the net effect for Israel is unmistakably serious.

We, the members of Project Daniel, are aware as well, that a movement for nuclear “equity” is currently gaining strength in the Arab/Islamic world and even in parts of Europe. The main argument of this carefully orchestrated movement is that nonproliferation burdens should be borne “fairly and equally” by all states in the region, and that Israel cannot be an exception. If this carefully contrived movement should gather strength and adherents in the coming months and years, it could place Israel’s nuclear options in some peril. Without these options, Israel’s genocidal enemies would quickly understand what classical military thinking has incorporated from Karl von Clausewitz (On War), and what was learned long ago by the ancient Greek King Pyrrhus: There comes a time when mass counts. In this connection it is important for friends of Israel to understand that our reference to “genocidal enemies” is altogether literal and precise. Even by the strict jurisprudential standards defined at the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the language and actions of Israel’s state and non-state enemies qualify fully as egregious crimes against humanity.4

The Arab world is comprised of 22 states of nearly 5,000,000 square miles and 144,000,000 people. Soon, if Israel is forced to accede to the idea of a Palestinian state, there will be a 23rd Arab state, one with particular territorial and tactical advantages in the accelerating genocidal struggle against Israel. The Islamic world overall contains 44 states with more than one billion people. These Islamic states comprise an area that is 672 times the size of Israel. The Jewish state, with a population of about 5,000,000 Jews – is – together with Judea, Samaria and Gaza – less than half the size of San Bernardino County in California.

We the authors of Israel’s Strategic Future have reaffirmed Israel’s long-honored commitment to collective security and “peaceful settlement of disputes” whenever possible. But it will be immediately evident to all who consider the United Nations that this world body has regularly been openly biased against Israel, and that it can never be counted upon to halt or even impede the genocidal ambitions of Israel’s enemies. Indeed, at a time when the uniquely barbarous terror of Hamas and related Palestinian groups openly defies every constraint of humanitarian international law (the law of armed conflict is binding upon all combatants, insurgents as well a states), the UN chooses to condemn not the Arab terror but Israel’s efforts at counter-terror. In a fashion that seems to resemble the literary genre of the “Theatre of the Absurd” more than the sober deliberations of international diplomacy, the Security Council debates Israel’s security fence, but not the Arab mutilations and murders that make the fence necessary. Similarly, the world body is quick to condemn Israel’s policy of “targeted killings” while ignoring the bloody pogroms organized by such Hamas leaders as the late Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and the late Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi. We might also recall that the UN Security Council, including the United States of America, voted to condemn Israel’s destruction of Iraq’s Osiraq nuclear reactor on June 7, 19815 – an expression of anticipatory self-defense6 that was the reason Saddam Hussein did not have nuclear weapons during the 1991 Gulf War or during the past year in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Israel’s Strategic Future is founded on the presumption that current threats of war, terrorism and genocide derive from a very clear “clash of civilizations”, and not merely from narrow geostrategic differences. Both Israel and the United States are unambiguously in the cross-hairs of a worldwide Arab/Islamic “Jihad” that is fundamentally cultural/theological in nature, and that will not concede an inch to conventional norms of “coexistence” or “peaceful settlement”. This situation of ongoing danger to “unbelievers” is hardly a pleasing one for Jerusalem and Washington, but it is one that must now be acknowledged forthrightly and dealt with intelligently. Moreover, it is a situation that could combine an eighth century view of the world with 21st century weapons of mass destruction.

Very early on in our deliberations, the Group considered a coincident danger; that is, the special strategic risks to Israel of irrational adversaries (state and non-state) armed with nuclear and/or biological weapons. Although we concluded that preeminent risks are far more likely to be associated with fully rational enemies, there may be residual circumstances in which Israel could be faced with a “suicide bomber in macrocosm” – enemy state leaders/decision-makers who are actually willing to absorb overwhelmingly destructive Israeli nuclear reprisals in order to eliminate the “Zionist cancer”. For this reason, as well as for other specific circumstances in which Israel’s nuclear deterrent might be eviscerated or immobilized, we have devoted much of our argument to codification of a credible and capable preemption doctrine.

We may learn two persistently important truths from Thucydides’ account of the Peloponnesian War in ancient Greece: (1) that “war is a violent preceptor,” and (2) that human nature is dreadfully constant. Today, Israel’s strategic future is poised precariously on a knife’s edge, and the wisdom of Thucydides can be disregarded only at great peril. It would be a mistake to conclude that inter-Arab or inter-Islamic dissension at any level, including open warfare, would substantially reduce risks of violence to Israel, or that Israel can presently draw any true measure of security from formal peace agreements with its enemies. Ultimately, President Bush is correct in his view that Arab/Islamic democratization is necessarily antecedent to regional peace, but it is just as apparent that this remedy is still many years away. In the interim, therefore, both Israel and the United States must maintain steady momentum in their War Against Terror (WAT) and in the absolutely imperative control (including, if necessary, appropriate preemptions) of nuclear proliferation. Building upon the solid foundations of Libya’s recent nuclear renunciation, attention must now be directed especially to scale down the nuclear programs not only of Iran, but also of Algeria and even Egypt.

As a “violent preceptor”, Operation Iraqi Freedom yields several important lessons. In its initial combat phases, “Gulf War II” has been a war of high-precision ordnance, in contrast to Operation Desert Storm, which had been a “war of platforms”. The overwhelming majority of bombs and missiles fired in Operation Iraqi Freedom were accurate enough to permit about 600 strike aircraft – deployed farther away from their targets than in Operation Desert Storm – to achieve primary offensive objectives in some 24 days. From the standpoint of these objectives, it follows that what “counts” in such offensive operations is not missions per se, but rather number of ordnance per target hit or destroyed.7 Nonetheless, even where this “lesson” has been learned by Israel and the United States, it must remain obvious that an initial offensive operational victory in wars against rogue regimes and corollary wars against terror is only the beginning of much wider forms of struggle.

In the main body of our Final Report, we note a recommended “Paradigm Shift”, and identify associated changes to Israel’s defense expenditures. Optimally, a satisfactory level of conventional deterrence/war-winning capacity can be maintained by Israel without substantial budgetary expansions. By definition, this would require a reduction in weapon-carrying platforms (e.g., tanks, aircraft) and a corresponding reduction in manpower, training and maintenance costs without diminishing the desired level of overall combat effectiveness.

In essence, the budgeted paradigm-shift must allow the IDF to maintain a needed level of potential number of targets destroyed over a pertinent span of time – a goal that will require sophisticated, “intelligent” weapons; lighter, more lethal, with longer-ranges and – very importantly – possessing precise day/night, independent (fire and forget) unjammable guidance systems.8 The recommended paradigm shift will also require additional deterrence/war-winning capabilities in both the Terror and WMD sectors. Although there is a certain overlap of operational requirements between sectors, the slightly-reduced budget allocations for conventional deterrence will not suffice to sustain the vastly-increased needs for anti-terror and (especially) WMD-warfare requirements.

The authors of this report wish to highlight several areas where Israel’s conventional defense posture is being negatively impacted by recent budget cuts.

The first of these is in the area of research and development.9 Israel’s FY 2004 defense budget eliminates a substantial part of the funding for new R&D initiatives as a direct consequence of an overall cut of NIS 3 billion (US$680 million) in military expenditure. Innovation in weapons technology is the lifeblood of the country’s military establishment and has been responsible for ensuring that its armed forces can prevail over any combination of numerically superior enemy states. It also is the engine for the country’s high technology economy. Reducing investment in new military technology leaves Israel vulnerable to its enemies who are acquiring new and improved weapons systems at a prodigious rate.

A second concern is the inadequate funding being allocated by Israel to military Operation and Maintenance (O&M) accounts. It is these accounts that pay for day-to-day necessities from pay and allowances to training and base support. The three-year old Palestinian war has forced the IDF to divert funds from its regular O&M to pay for ongoing operations in the territories. The war on terrorism and the security barrier have drained away additional resources. Owing to the growing shortage of O&M funds, troop training has been reduced across the board to include flying hours for the Air Force, steaming hours for the Navy and maneuver hours for IDF land forces.

Third, with rare exception, Israel’s military leaders are being forced to cut back on the acquisition of new, state-of-the-art war fighting platforms.

Conventional military strength is composed of many factors. Those mentioned above are just a few of the indicators that point to a disturbing trend among Israel’s armed forces, one that if allowed to continue could seriously erode the country’s sustained combat capability as well as its ability to deter non-nuclear aggression. The maintenance of a strong, seamless conventional defense posture is key to being able to deter aggression along the entire threat continuum. Israel’s military weakness, real or perceived, could invite aggression that if left unchecked, could escalate to the WMD level.

To be sure, Israel’s strategic future will be substantially contingent upon the strength of its economy. It is also clear that expending too high a percentage of GDP on defense would have a debilitating effect on Israel’s overall economic health. Increasing the defense burden above seven percent of the GDP could produce such an injurious effect.10 This means, we suggest, that (a) Israel’s defense burden not exceed this particular threshold percentage of GDP and – assuming no significant increases in support coming from the United States – that (b) Israel now strive in organized fashion to raise its GDP and reach per capita levels commonly expressed in parts of Western Europe.

Once undertaken and identified, Israel’s suggested Paradigm Shift will itself impact the way other state and certain nonstate actors behave in world politics. It is recommended, therefore, that Israel continuously monitor the “validity” of its Paradigm Shift internationally.

Just as inter-Arab and inter-Islamic conflict will do little to blunt overreaching Arab/Islamic war-preparations against Israel, so too will American and/or Israeli destruction of particular terrorist bases not necessarily eliminate the safe-havens provided by terrorist patron states. We have already witnessed the apparent ability of al-Qai`dah to shift operations from one state to another, and it is altogether likely that alternative patrons would be discovered readily and expeditiously by other terror groups. We recommend, therefore, not that the War Against Terror in any way reduce its operations against known terror bases, but rather that it also include in its primary tactical arsenal some meaningful disincentives to all prospective terrorist patron states.

For the moment, Iraq has been eliminated from Israel’s “strategic equation”. This means that Israel can allocate energies and resources toward other sources of WMD danger, although it is conceivable that Iraq may still remain a potential source of anti-Israel terror. It is in Israel’s short and long-term strategic interest to assure a complete American-led victory in post-Saddam Iraq.

The ongoing war in Iraq has demonstrated the evident weaknesses of national intelligence agencies in providing certain critical warnings and in enhancing strategic stability throughout certain regions. Israel, itself, is not without a history of serious intelligence failure, and Israel’s strategic future will require, inter alia, an enhanced intelligence infrastructure and highly-refined “backup systems”.

We recognize that – for many different reasons – Israel now faces increasing isolation in the world community. More than ever before, Israel will need to fend for its own security, and to depend, in the final analysis, upon its own skills and resources. As clear examples, the ongoing expansion of the European Community (EU) and NATO will provide various security guarantees to member states and will leave Israel more and more alone. In the end, Israel’s strategic future will depend upon plans and postures of its own making, and these plans and postures will themselves require a more comprehensive and creative pattern of strategic studies as a disciplined field of inquiry.11

Optimally, a steadily-improving field of Israeli strategic studies will now construct a generalized body of advanced theory from which particular policy prescriptions can be suitably extrapolated and implemented. In building such important theory, it will be vital to consider a number of issues that might not ordinarily seem to “fit” directly into our present range of concern. For example, Israel’s strategic future will assuredly be impacted by such diverse factors as (1) the growing anarchy in world affairs; (2) the prospect of nuclear weapons use on the Korean Peninsula or in Southwest Asia (India/Pakistan); (3) the ironically emerging prospect of the United States ally as a simultaneous guarantor of basic security for “Palestine”; (4) the probable incapacity of the United States to bring democracy to Iraq or to any other Arab state in the Middle East; (5) the likely emergence of mega-terror in different parts of the world, and its conceptual effects on the meaning of “existential threat” for Israel; and (6) the palpable worldwide growth of anti-Semitism and its still-unexamined influence on Israel’s capacity to function diplomatically, economically and militarily.

Israel’s security is fraught with risk and danger, and it is contingent upon a great many complex variables, but it is also an arena of opportunity. Recognizing a compelling obligation to tackle existential threats systematically, comprehensively and coherently – not merely as ad hoc singular events or concerns – Israel’s decision-makers should soon take certain additional informed steps to enhance national survival. Taking nothing for granted, and drawing fully upon Israel’s Strategic Future, these leaders could build firmly upon the understanding that Israel’s most fundamental strategic asset is, immutably, the intellectual power of reasoned analysis.

This can now be best accomplished by taking certain concrete steps to implement the principal and detailed recommendations of Israel’s Strategic Future concerning deterrence, defense, warfighting and preemption options; by exploring precise ways for Israel to more effectively finance substantially increased military expenditures; and by examining new possibilities for US-Israel cooperation in the face of mounting mega-threats to regional and international peace.


1   See Dexter Ingram (Threat Assessment Specialist), Iraq Weapons of Mass Destruction: Threat Assessments of Possible Attack Scenarios, The Heritage Foundation, Washington, DC, September 25, 2002, PowerPoint presentation, 12 pages. According to the Heritage Foundation, this is a notional scenario, based on a Department of Defense simulation.

2  See The Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons (Advisory Opinion of July 8), UN Doc. A/51/218 (1996), reprinted in 35 I.L.M. 809 & 1343 (1996). The Opinion is also available at Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons,

3  See: Yoash Tsiddon-Chatto, “Non-Classified Realities Affecting Israel’s Air Force – 2005-2010”; Policy Paper No. 136, ACPR, Israel, March 2002, 59 pages.

4   Crimes Against Humanity, from which the crime of Genocide derives, were defined and codified at Article 6(c) of the Agreement for the Prosecution and Punishment of the Major War Criminals of the European Axis and Charter of the International Military Tribunal; concluded at London, August 8, 1945. Entered into force, August 8, 1945, 82 U.N.T.S. 279; 1946 U.K.T.S. 27, Cmd. 6903, 145 B.F.S.P. 872, 59 Stat., 1544, E.A.S. 472. The Genocide Convention (1948) itself criminalizes not only the various acts of genocide, but also (Article III) “conspiracy to commit genocide” and “direct and public incitement to commit genocide”. Articles II, III and IV of the Genocide Convention are fully applicable in all cases of “direct and public incitement to commit genocide”. The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965) condemns “all propaganda and all organizations which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form, obliging, at Article 4(a) that “State parties declare as an offense punishable by law all dissemination of ideas based on racial superiority or hatred, incitement to racial discrimination, as well as all acts of violence or incitement to such acts against any race or group of persons.” Article 4(b) affirms that State parties “Shall declare illegal and prohibit organizations, and also organized and all other propaganda activities, which promote and incite racial discrimination, and shall recognize participation in such organizations or activities as an offense punishable by law.” Further authority for curtailing and punishing Palestinian calls for the genocidal destruction of Jews can be found at Article 20 (2) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966): “Any advocacy of national, racial or religious hatred that constitutes incitement to discrimination, hostility or violence shall be prohibited by law.” In a December 2003 case before the International Criminal Tribunal in Rwanda (ICTR), three African media executives were found guilty of genocide, incitement to commit genocide and crimes against humanity. These guilty verdicts were based upon provocative reports and editorials that had been published in the early 1990s before and during orchestrated mass murder of the Tutsi Rwandan minority by the majority Hutus. The defendants were not convicted of any specific acts of violence, but only of a heinous abuse of words.

5  UN Security Council Resolution 487 of June 19, 1981, strongly condemned the attack and expressed that “Iraq was entitled to appropriate redress for the destruction it has suffered.

6   For scholarly examination of anticipatory self-defense with particular reference to Israel by the Chair of Project Daniel, see: Louis René Beres, “Assassinating Saddam Hussein: The View From International Law”, Indiana International and Comparative Law Review, Vol. 13, No. 3, 2003, pp. 847-869; Louis René Beres, “The Newly Expanded American Doctrine of Preemption: Can It Include Assassination?”, Denver Journal of International Law and Policy, Vol. 31, No. 2., Winter 2002, pp. 157-177; Louis René Beres and Yoash Tsiddon-Chatto, “Reconsidering Israel’s Destruction of Iraq’s Osiraq Nuclear Reactor”, Temple International and Comparative Law Journal, Vol. 9., No. 2., 1995, pp. 437-449; Louis René Beres, “Preserving The Third Temple Commonwealth: Israel’s Right of Anticipatory Self-Defense Under International Law”, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Vol. 26, No. 1., 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., 1991, pp. 259-280; Louis René Beres, “Striking First’: Israel’s Post-Gulf War Options Under International Law”, Loyloa of Los Angeles International and Comparative Law Journal, Vol. 14, No. 1., 1991, pp. 1-24; Louis René Beres, “Israel and Anticipatory Self-Defense”, Arizona Journal of International and Comparative Law, Vol. 8, 1991, pp. 89-99; Louis René Beres, “After the SCUD Attacks: Israel, Palestine’, and Anticipatory Self-Defense”, Emory International Law Review, Vol. 6., No. 1., 1992, pp. 71-104; Louis René Beres, “On Assassination as Anticipatory Self-Defense: The Case of Israel”, Hofstra Law Review, Vol. 20, No. 2., 1991, pp. 321-340; Louis René Beres, “In Support of Anticipatory Self-Defense: Israel, Osiraq and International Law”, Contemporary Security Policy, Vol. 19, No. 2., 1998, pp. 111-114; Louis René Beres, “Israel, Iran and Preemption: Choosing the Least Unattractive Option Under International Law”, Dickinson Journal of International Law, Vol. 14, No. 2., pp. 187-206; Louis René Beres, “Israel, Force and International Law: Assessing Anticipatory Self-Defense”, Jerusalem Journal of International Relations, Vol. 13, No. 2., 1991, pp. 1-14; and Louis René Beres, “Israel’s Bomb in the Basement:’ A Second Look”, Israel Affairs, Vol. 2., No. 1., 1995, pp. 112-136.

7  See Yoash Tsiddon-Chatto, “The Bracketing of Performance of Strike Aircraft: The Case of the Forgotten War”, Society of Experimental Test Pilots, Technical Review, January 1970; See also: Yoash Tsiddon-Chatto, Lt. Col./IAF, “The Case of the Forgotten War: An Opinion on Strike Aircraft”, Society of Experimental Test Pilots (SETP), Technical Review, January 1971, pp. 8-27.

8   As new technologies have now greatly reduced the need for heavy bombs (with increasing accuracy, smaller warheads can often be used effectively), the number of targets killed by any one platform is less dependent upon the weight of the weapons than upon their number.

9    See “Israel Halts All New R&D Defense Programs”, MENL, Tel Aviv, April 10, 2004.

10  The 7% limit thesis was advanced by Professor Daniel Tsiddon of Tel Aviv University at the Defense and Society Forum of the Israel Democracy Institute (Jerusalem) on September 5, 2003.

11 We are reminded here of a remark in Goethe’s Faust: “In the end, we still depend upon creatures of our own making.” (Am Ende haengen wir doch ab/Von Kreaturen, die wir machten.)


January 16, 2003

Authors of the Report:

Professor Louis René Beres, Chair, USA

Naaman Belkind, Former Assistant to the Deputy Minister of Defense for Special Means, Israel

Maj. Gen. (Res.), Israeli Air Force, Professor Isaac Ben-Israel, Israel

Dr. Rand H. Fishbein, Former Professional Staff Member, US Senate Appropriations Committee, and former Special Assistant for National Security Affairs to Senator Daniel K. Inouye, USA

Dr. Adir Pridor, Lt. COL. (Ret.), Israeli Air Force; Former Head of Military Analyses, RAFAEL, Israel

Former MK/COL (Res.), Israeli Air Force,  Yoash Tsiddon-Chatto, Israel


Louis René Beres was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971) and publishes widely on Israeli security matters. Professor of International Law at Purdue University, he is the author of two recent Policy Papers of the Ariel Center for Policy Research: “Security Threats and Effective Remedies: Israel’s Strategic, Tactical and Legal Options” (2000) and “Israel’s Survival Imperatives: The Oslo Agreements in International Law and National Strategy” (1997). Professor Beres is the author of nine major books in the field and is the Strategic and Military Affairs Columnist for The Jewish Press. His articles have appeared in more than one hundred magazines and journals, including US Department of Defense publications, Parameters: The Journal of the US Army War College and Special Warfare.

Naaman Belkind is a retired engineer with 33 years of service in the Israel Atomic Energy Commission and the Israeli Ministry of Defense. A former Assistant to the Deputy Minister of Defense for Special Means, he headed various projects at the Nuclear Research Center in Dimona and served as Science Counselor at Israel’s Embassy in Washington, DC.

Isaac Ben-Israel holds a Ph.D. from Tel Aviv University, where he studied mathematics, physics and philosophy.  The author of numerous articles and several books on military issues, he has held several senior posts in operations, intelligence and weapons development within the Israel Air Force. In January 1998 he was promoted to Major-General and appointed as Director of Defense R&D Directorate in IMOD. Maj-Gen. Ben-Israel has been teaching at Tel Aviv University since 1989.

Rand H. Fishbein, Ph.D., received his doctorate, with distinction, in International Relations/Middle East Studies from The Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies SAIS). He was a recipient of two Fulbright Fellowships for Middle East Study at St. Antony's College, Oxford University and the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London. Currently, Dr. Fishbein is President of Fishbein Associates Inc., a public-policy consulting firm based in Potomac, Maryland. Dr. Fishbein is a former Professional Staff Member of both the US Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee and the US Senate Foreign Operations Appropriations Subcommittee, as well as the former Special Assistant for National Security Affairs to Senator Daniel K. Inouye (D-HI).  During his years of service on the staff of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Dr. Fishbein conceived of and authored numerous programs and initiatives in support of US national security interests in the Middle East.  He was the author of the first sanctions bill targeting the regime of Saddam Hussein ten months before the Iraqi leader invaded Kuwait.

Adir Pridor holds a Ph.D. in Mathematics from The Hebrew University in Jerusalem and is currently Head of the Institute for Industrial Mathematics, which he established in 1992. A co-founder of the Operations Research Branch of the Israel Air Force, Dr. Pridor’s wide-ranging analytical studies have focused upon such issues as airfield vulnerability; air defense effectiveness; aircraft survivability in special missions; damage analysis; defense organization; missile threat assessment; threat forecast and force building, operational planning and others.

Yoash Tsiddon-Chatto, Col./Res., Israeli Air Force, was a Member of the 12th Knesset and of the 1991 Madrid Peace Mission. A member of the Israel Society of Aeronautics and Astronautics and of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, COL. Tsiddon-Chatto served as Chief of Planning and Operational Requirements for the IAF prior to the Six Day War. A member of RAFAEL (Armament Development Board) from 1992 until 1995, he publishes extensively on security issues in Israel and elsewhere. A founding member of the Ariel Center for Policy Research, Tsiddon-Chatto is the author, most recently, of ACPR Policy Paper No. 136: “Non-Classified Realities Affecting Israel’s Air Force – 2005-2010” (2002).