Perspectives Papers

Perspectives Papers provide analysis from BESA Center research associates and other outside experts on the most important issues pertaining to Israel and the Middle East.

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Moving the US Embassy to Jerusalem: Righting a Diplomatic Wrong

No. 833
| May 14, 2018

Jerusalem has been the capital of the state of Israel since 1949. Most states, however – including the US – chose not to recognize Israel’s capital and located their embassies in the Tel Aviv area. There has never been any reason to deny recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, either before or after the 1967 Six-Day War. The failure to recognize Israel’s capital is thus a unique diplomatic anomaly. In election campaigns, successive American presidents have promised to transfer the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, but failed to live up to that commitment. Congress demanded recognition and transfer but to no avail. President Donald Trump dramatically changed this pattern by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ordering that the US embassy be moved there.

Russia vs. the West: The Beginning of the End

No. 832
| May 13, 2018

The Russia-West confrontation has, over the course of the past several years, reached its most tense point since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Differences between the two sides will only grow as neither side wants to make concessions on Syria, North Korea, Ukraine, Georgia, etc. However, there is also a strong possibility that the West is making significant headway in its competition with Russia over the former Soviet space.

Donald Trump’s National Security Doctrine

No. 830
| May 11, 2018

In light of the dramatic announcement by US President Donald Trump that the US will withdraw from the nuclear agreement with Iran (the JCPOA) and restore harsh economic sanctions, it is worthwhile to analyze the Trump administration’s national security doctrine. The mainstream media’s claims that Trump has no real strategy, that he does not understand the issues at stake and changes his mind about them constantly, and that the White House is in a state of confused turmoil do not stand up to scrutiny.

Middle East Peace Will Come Through Containment of the Iranian Threat

No. 829
| May 10, 2018

There are many implications to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s impressive presentation in which he revealed the Iranian plan to turn itself into a nuclear superpower. One of them is the message to the Arab world that Israel is determined to stop this process, which it views as disastrous. There is no doubt that one of the presentation’s main target audiences was the leaders of the Sunni Arab countries.

What Might an Israel-Iran War Look Like?

No. 828
| May 10, 2018

Given their mutual resolve in meeting their completely contradictory objectives – Tehran’s resolve to turn Syria into a forward base for direct Iranian operations and Israel’s resolve to prevent it – the prospects are high that a war will break out between Iran and its proxies against Israel. The war will be mutually destructive, but Israel has one advantage Iran doesn’t – a public that is firmly behind its democratically elected government.

The Failure of Democracy in the Arab World

No. 827
| May 9, 2018

Ever since 9/11, Western leaders have pushed for democratization of the Arab world. Almost twenty years down the road, the push for democratization has had catastrophic results: With the partial exception of Tunisia, the Arab states whose dictators were toppled are mired in strife or have relapsed into despotism. The time has come to learn from the experiences of South Korea, Spain, and Chile in the mid-to-late 20th century and realize that without a growing economy and a sizable middle class, democracy cannot take root in society. 

The “Game” Israel and Iran Must Play in Syria

No. 825
| May 8, 2018

Israel has neither the power nor the motivation to significantly influence the outcome of the war for control of all the pieces of Syria. Israel’s objective in Syria is to prevent Iran from building military facilities there that increase its ability to attack Israel. The only way Israel can achieve this is by destroying any such facilities that Iran builds, or by convincing Iran not to build any threatening facility out of fear that Israel will destroy it.  

China’s Role in a Nuclear Middle East

No. 824
| May 7, 2018

The US president’s threats that the Iranian nuclear agreement has to be reevaluated, and Saudi Arabia’s intention to continue the quest for nuclear capabilities if Iran persists in its efforts, are of great concern to the international powers. Here we examine possible responses of China to these issues.

The Kim-Trump Summit: “Do We Do Pearl Harbors?”

No. 823

It is too soon to declare that peace is at hand in Korea. Donald Trump must exercise caution. He must study relevant history, his adversary’s negotiation pattern of deception, and the past follies of American leaders. It is essential that he maintain a viable military option and economic sanctions until strictly verifiable denuclearization has been accomplished.

Is Spring Coming to the Korean Peninsula?

No. 822
| May 4, 2018

US President Donald Trump is expected to meet Kim Jong-un within two months. The Trump administration has little time to prepare, and it is unclear which Korean experts will be involved. It is also impossible to predict how Trump’s negotiating style will be received. Pyongyang will not give up all its nuclear weapons immediately. Kim will likely propose a phased negotiation and a step-by-step denuclearization on condition that the regime’s safety is guaranteed and the US-South Korean alliance is denuclearized beforehand.