19 August '10
Noam Sheizaf and Larry Derfner are worried about the possibility that Israel might attack Iran’s nuclear facilities. No surprise there. What sensible person could contemplate such an idea with equanimity? However, both of them fall into the trap of assuming that all the risks are stacked on the side of attacking and none on the side of not taking military action.
Derfner seems to think that the only real problem is what he sees as the Israeli government’s obsession with the Holocaust. This is core argument:
The powers-that-be say Israel cannot risk another Holocaust; sounds to me like their Holocaust mania is creating what could become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It doesn’t seem excessive to parse this as meaning that if an attempt is made to exterminate the Jews of Israel then they’ll only have their obsession with the extermination of their European relatives to blame.
He also asks this question:
After all the doomsday weapons we’ve amassed, must we be so afraid, must we hold onto the Holocaust for dear life?
This doesn’t indicate that he has much of an understanding about how deterrence works. Israel’s nuclear weapons can’t protect it from a nuclear attack. They can only ensure that such an attack would receive a response in kind. Deterrence is founded on the belief that your enemy would be unwilling to accept the costs that your retaliatory strike would impose on him and hence not attack you. If he’s willing to accept those costs then you’re in big trouble, just as you are if he believes you’d lack either the means or the will to retaliate.
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