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).

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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Trump Diplomacy: Settling North Korea “With Gas and With Bomb”?

| June 11, 2017

As North Korea continues its steadily expanding nuclearization, US President Donald Trump will have to prepare for extremely complex crisis diplomacy. Whether he decides upon a path of military preemption (what his lawyers would then call “anticipatory self-defense”) or waits for a first move by Pyongyang, Trump will need to (1) make difficult judgments regarding enemy rationality and capability; and (2) consider a prudent posture of “pretended irrationality” for the US. His core task will be to pursue “escalation dominance” without simultaneously exposing the US or its allies to grievous attack.

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Israel’s Release of Second Ramallah Lynch Murderer Violates International Law

| April 5, 2017

All states share a common and binding obligation to apprehend and punish terrorists. Although Israel remains on the front line of this rule and does everything possible to comply with operational terms, it has a corollary obligation to keep sentenced terrorist murderers in confinement. When Haitham Muari, one of the Hamas murderers convicted in the grotesque 2004 mutilation murders of two Israelis in Ramallah, was recently set free, it placed Israel in the regrettable position of initiating yet another lawless terrorist release. The official explanation from Jerusalem – that Muari had “only” been involved in the pre-mutilation beating of Sgt. Maj. Yosef Avrahami, and should therefore be released after a much briefer period of imprisonment – is wrongly exculpatory, legally contrived, and nationally self-destructive.

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Are Israeli Raids on Syrian Targets Legal?

| March 23, 2017

Israel’s recent raids against Syrian targets are lawful and law-enforcing. Facing an increasingly dangerous Hezbollah, Jerusalem correctly understands that even a failed state has legal obligations not to assist in terrorist assaults against Israel. These obligations, concerning Syria in particular, are authoritatively codified in treaty-based and customary international law. Moreover, in consequence of Syria’s active and unambiguous complicity with Hezbollah, Israel has a corresponding obligation to prevent and/or mitigate such terrorist crimes. This obligation, which Israel is undertaking well within the limitations of humanitarian international law, is owed both to citizens of the Jewish State and to the broader community of nations.

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President Trump, North Korea, and Israel’s Nuclear Strategy

| March 16, 2017

Although concerns about a Trump confrontation with a nuclear North Korea are widespread, there has been little corollary discussion of crisis implications for other parts of the world. Yet there are important spillover implications to be considered, specifically with reference to the Middle East and Israel’s nuclear strategy.

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How Likely Is an Irrational US Presidential Order to Use Nuclear Weapons?

| March 5, 2017

There is no scientifically valid way to predict US presidential irrationality. Nor is there any analytically acceptable way for an American president to foretell the nuclear outcomes of any considered policy decision. There is another, less frequently considered possibility that is just as impossible to predict: that President Trump could refuse to follow through on deterrent threats, thereby allowing assorted Russian aggressions – including those that might involve Israel.

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