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).

Israeli Nuclear Deterrence in Context: Effects of the US-Russian Rivalry

| June 20, 2019

Israel’s presumptive nuclear deterrence posture depends upon several separate but intersecting factors. Most important, of course, are the country’s weapons, infrastructures, and missile defense capabilities. Less conspicuously urgent, but still important, are the principal defining structures of world politics. These include (as ever) the fundamentally anarchic system created after the 1648 Peace of Westphalia (“The State System”) and the more transient or temporary US-Russian rivalry. This essay casts attention on the latter set of factors, or “Cold War II.” Israel’s strategists should pay close attention to this critical expression of geopolitical “context.”

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Beyond Realpolitik: Israel’s Strategic Imperatives

| March 31, 2019

For all nation-states, but especially the most powerful or influential, success must be measured along two separate dimensions: present and future. Although Israeli leaders may correctly calculate that their country is doing reasonably well under classic geopolitical criteria of realpolitik, that judgment is likely to collapse in the longer term. There is a great need for a new world politics of cooperation and acknowledged interdependence.

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American National Security and the Imperative Primacy of “Mind”

| March 7, 2019

While President Trump intends to bolster US power through enhanced weapons systems and a rededication to belligerent nationalist foreign policies, authentic national security will require new emphases on intellect, or “mind.” This means focusing on new ways of thinking about world politics, especially much-needed escape plans from lethal cycles of competitive geopolitics. Washington must slow its still-growing inclination toward renewed arms racing and to other kinds of military escalation and shift its policy emphases to the greater utilities of intellect.

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Terrorism as Power over Death

| January 1, 2019

Opposing terrorism, especially jihadist terror, has become a continuous security obligation of the US, Europe, and of course Israel. Still, too little serious analytic attention has been directed towards identifying remedies for such perils. These remedies should build upon an understanding of terrorism as a tool in the search for personal immortality.

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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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