Prof. Louis René Beres

Prof. Louis René Beres

Louis René Beres (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) is Professor of Political Science and International Law at Purdue. The author of many books and scholarly articles in the field, he contributes regularly to several major world newspapers and magazines. Dr. Beres was Chair of Project Daniel (Israel, 2003).

Israel Must Reevaluate Its Policy of Nuclear Ambiguity

| December 2, 2018

In view of growing Middle Eastern turmoil since the Arab upheavals of 2011, the time has come for Israel to review the efficacy of its traditional policy of deliberate nuclear ambiguity.

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How Sun Tzu Might Approach US Nuclear Strategy

Although nuclear strategy must, by definition, be shaped without historical precedent, it should contain certain ancient core concepts. The strategic postulates first laid down by Sun Tzu could be referenced usefully by the current architects of US nuclear strategy, especially with reference to an already nuclear North Korea, and to a plausibly future nuclear adversary in Iran. These first principles could be applied to US ally Israel, in consequence of their direct impact on US policies, and to ongoing North Korean military activity in Syria or the wider Middle East.

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Israel’s Nuclear and Conventional Deterrence

| April 29, 2018

In thinking about deterrence-based national security, Israel must regard the country’s nuclear and conventional threats as seamless and interwoven. This is because a recognizably capable and coherent conventional deterrent could prevent any too-sudden escalations to nuclear dimensions of conflict, and because a similarly capable and coherent nuclear deterrent could best ensure that adversaries remain suitably reluctant to menace Israel’s existence. Moreover, because both interrelated forms of Israeli deterrence always require a presumption of enemy rationality – and because these enemies might not always conform to this reassuring presumption – Israel will have to develop a far more conspicuous doctrine for dealing with prospectively non-rational adversaries. While any such doctrine, inter alia, must include a broad variety of plausible preemption choices, there are conceivable circumstances wherein Israel’s pertinent enemies would be judged irrational or potentially irrational, and where identifiable cost-effective preemption options no longer exist. At that eleventh-hour point of crisis, Israel’s leaders would need to have ready certain still-promising security options other than deterrence (conventional or nuclear) or preemption.

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International Law and WMD Attacks on Israel

| April 24, 2018

In the years ahead, Israel could face the growing prospect of WMD terrorism – i.e., attacks involving chemical, biological, or even nuclear weapons. In this connection, it is vital that Israeli officials do their utmost to prevent perfidious enemy manipulations of humanitarian international law. This is especially urgent with regard to enemy use of “human shields,” an illegal form of military deception that could be used to deter Israeli retaliation. Perfidy can originate with both state and sub-state foes, and could conceivably involve primitive nuclear devices such as “dirty bombs” (weapons that do not involve genuine chain reactions, but instead attach conventional explosives to fissile materials).

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Improving Israeli Military Strategy Through Avant Garde Analysis

| March 25, 2018

In strategic studies, just as in art, music, or literature, avant garde means an imaginative willingness to take conceptual leaps. There are several ways in which Israeli strategic studies could benefit from the creativity of an explicitly avant garde orientation.

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Surviving Donald Trump: Israel’s Strategic Options

| February 2, 2018

While Israel has always been determinedly self-reliant on core matters of national security, this posture needs to become even more explicit in the disjointed “Trump Era.” In correctly acknowledging the unpredictability and possible incoherence of Trump’s developing policies towards the Middle East, Jerusalem will need to direct special attention towards growing prospects for “Cold War II,” and certain incrementally needed revisions of Israeli nuclear strategy.

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The North Korean Threat: Rationality, Intentionality, and Nuclear War

| September 5, 2017

To deal with the growing nuclear threat from North Korea, US policy will need to be drawn from theoretical decision models. Four such models should be constructed along the axes of rationality and intentionality. With these models in hand, President Trump and his senior strategists would be better prepared to assess and counter the threats posed by Kim Jong-un to the US and its allies. In the latter regard, the North Korean leader maintains ties to some of Israel’s core enemies in the Middle East, including Syria, Hezbollah, and Iran.

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The Potentially Existential Threat to Israel from “Palestine”

| August 14, 2017

“Palestine” could present a far greater threat to Israel than a third intifada or persistent terrorism. This threat, which would further exacerbate the area’s correlation of forces, is potentially existential. Under certain circumstances, Palestinian statehood could meaningfully enlarge the prospects of both mega-terror attacks and regional nuclear war.

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Israel’s Possible Paths to Nuclear War

| July 22, 2017

North Korea’s nuclearization has implications for Israel’s nuclear deterrence posture. There are several plausible means by which a nuclear conflict could arise in the Middle East. It may be time to consider a phase-out of Israel’s “deliberate nuclear ambiguity” and to focus Israeli planning around evaluations of enemy rationality.

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Israeli Security and Enemy Rationality

The utility of Israel’s nuclear strategy will ultimately depend on accurate assessments of enemy rationality. In this connection, the military planners in Tel Aviv must determine if an adversarial leadership is predictably rational, irrational, or “mad,” and whether a calculated posture of “pretended irrationality” could sometimes benefit Israel.

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