Israeli Strategic Culture and Iranian Nuclear Program
Machiavelli was the first social scientist who observed that humans behave and act in patterns because in patterns they feel security and find it hard to break them.Humans come together to form states, as the state is an entity which has politically organized people with sovereignty and land. In every state or society, the control of economics, politics, religion, etc., is in hands of a small dominant group which we call the elite.
This elite forms policies both domestic and foreign and gives trends to the society. These elites or strategic elites of nation share a common style of thinking pattern which is an outcome of their experiences, common values and understandings and approaches.We call this "strategic culture of the strategic elite." In words of Dr. Hassan Askari Rizvi
, an independent political and defense analyst and former professor at the Punjab University in Lahore, Pakistan, "... [strategic culture is] a collectivity of beliefs, norms, values and historical experiences of the dominant elite in a polity that influences their understanding and interpretation of security issues and environment, and shapes their responses to these ..." The state of Israel came into being in 1948, the only Jewish state after nearly 2,500 years of suffering and humiliation. It inherited the insecurities of its past. It was created with the help of imperial powers and survived and is surviving due to its boldness, readiness for sacrifice and audacity at every level of its society . Historical experiences have taught Jews that Israel is their last refuge and their survival depends on its survival
The most important thing which we learn by the study of Israeli strategic culture is that Israel can go to any extent to safe guard its security and interests. From bold and classical operations like the 1948 War of Independence
to Suez Crisis
from great victory of the Six Day War
in 1967, to bold and legendary action in Sinai during the Yom Kippur War
, Israelis have proved that they are the best.Israeli army and intelligence have no rival in the region from Entebbe hostage rescue in Uganda in 1976
to tracking war criminals, Israelis have proved their worth and proved that they are capable of doing the impossible for the security of their citizens and the world of Judaism. There is no compromise for the Israeli strategic elite. One more thing which we observe is that for national security, Israelis can even make their allies their sacrificial lambs. During the 1967 war with Egypt and Syria, the Israeli Air Force knowingly bombed the USS Liberty
-- an American surveillance ship -- and blame it on the Egyptians. The main idea was to garner US sympathies and an American response against Egypt and Arabs.After understanding the core values of Israeli strategic elite for Israeli security, now let's have the look on prevalent strategic environment of the Middle East. There is an insurgency going on in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian federation is in chaos. Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia are no match for Israel. Israel is the only nuclear power in the Middle East and has the largest stockpile of nukes after the US, Russia, China and France [source: 2004 report by theNuclear Threat Initiative
]. In short, there is no rival to Israel and it's the only predominant military power in the region.If Iran becomes a nuclear power, this prevailing scenario will change and Israel will lose its predominant position. Hamas and Hizbollah, which are allies of Islamic Republic of Iran, will become more aggressive and the operations of these organizations will become more bold and deadly, forcing Israel to negotiate with them on an equal basis. Syria will also get stronger as it is a major ally of Iran and committed to the Palestinian cause -- a staunch enemy of the Zionist state. On the other hand, Iranian nuclear capabilities will force Saudi Arabia and Egypt to make Sunni atomic bombs to counter Shia atomic bombs, hence creating more problems for Israel.
Now the question becomes: What is Israel doing to counter this extreme threat to its security? Well, it is working on two fronts. On the diplomatic front, it is trying to create consensus against Iranian nuclear ambitions and trying to convince the US and Arab nations that a nuclear Iran will create troubles for them. The Shia belt -- stretching from Iran to Lebanon -- will become a headache and these governments and American interests will be targeted. And secondly it will force the regional powers to go nuclear hence starting an arms race in the Middle East. On other front Israel is creating dissent within Iran against Islamic regime. Along with the US, Israel is financing and coordinating with Mujahideen-e- Khalaq [MeK] -- a group the US declared a terrorist organization -- working against Iranian Islamic regime. Israeli instructors are also training Kurdish insurgents in Iraq against Iran to secure air fields. Similarly, insurgency in Iranian Azerbaijan, Khuzestan and, to some extent, in Iranian Baluchistan has clear signs of Israeli involvement. Some analysts are of the view that attacks on Allied forces in occupied Iraq also have Israeli marks, which are an effort to convince the US that Iran is dangerous. In addition to covert operations, the Israeli Defense Force has also conducted bombing exercises for launching an attack against Iranian nuclear and military installations.Understanding Israeli strategic culture, it's clear that Israel will never allow Iran to become a nuclear power. And history will be repeated, but this time Israel will be retaliated against and the Shia belt will explode. In order to maintain the security of Israel, the US will have to intervene because according to Henry Kissinger, "The security of Israel is foreign policy objective of America." But with the prevailing geostrategic environment -- and especially the clash of interests between dominant powers in the region -- we can easily see that any attack on Iran will be beginning of Armageddon.