Saturday, February 06, 2010

International Law on Z Street

This is quite long and dense but the subject is formidable:

International Law


Posted in International Law on February 03, 2010 by Lori Lowenthal Marcus


4 February 2010
Louis René Beres

"Do you know what it means to find yourselves face to face with a madman," asks Luigi Pirandello's Henry IV. "Madmen, lucky folk, construct without logic, or rather with a logic that flies like a feather." What is true for individuals is sometimes also true for states. In the often absurd theatre of modern world politics, constructions that rest upon ordinary logic can quickly crumble before madness.
Consider Israel, especially as it may soon have to confront an Iranian nuclear adversary with a potentially “suicidal” preference ordering. Left to proceed unhindered with its ongoing and illegal (under international law) program of nuclearization, Iran’s current leadership (and possibly even a successor “reformist” government in Tehran) could proceed to value Israel’s destruction more highly than even its own physical security. Such a prospect is highly improbable, to be sure, but – if rooted in particular visions of a Shiite apocalypse - it is not inconceivable.

Israel’s ultimate source of national security lies plainly in nuclear deterrence. Although obviously still implicit, and not at all open or acknowledged, this policy that is necessarily based upon enemy rationality could “crumble before madness.” In certain imaginable instances, the result of failed Israeli retaliatory threats could be total destruction.

By definition, the logic of deterrence always rests upon assumptions of rationality. History, however, reveals the persistent fragility of all such assumptions. We know too well that nations sometimes even behave in ways that are consciously self-destructive. Sometimes, perhaps even mirroring the infrequent but decisively aberrant behavior of individual human beings, national leaders choose to assign the very highest value to preferences other than collective self-preservation.

Strange as it may seem, it has happened before, and it will happen again.

con't at Z Street

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