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THE BALANCE OF NATIONAL SECURITY: IS TIME ON THE SIDE OF ISRAEL ? Prof. Alex Mintz Dean, Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy, IDC-Herzliya.

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Presentation on theme: "THE BALANCE OF NATIONAL SECURITY: IS TIME ON THE SIDE OF ISRAEL ? Prof. Alex Mintz Dean, Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy, IDC-Herzliya."— Presentation transcript:

1 THE BALANCE OF NATIONAL SECURITY: IS TIME ON THE SIDE OF ISRAEL ? Prof. Alex Mintz Dean, Lauder School of Government, Diplomacy and Strategy, IDC-Herzliya Presented at the 11 th Herzliya Conference, IDC, February 6, 2011

2 Is time on the side of Israel? For many years, conventional wisdom has been that time is on the side of Israel in the Israeli-Arab conflict As a consequence of the Six Day War, Israel has expanded its territory Israel has also enjoyed a qualitative advantage vis-à-vis Arab states in weapon systems Israel is a strong democracy with a prospering economy The Arab leaders, rivaling each other, have recognized their inability to win against Israel in the battlefield, even when they surprised Israel in the Yom Kippur War of 1973

3 The Purpose of This Lecture In this talk, I will argue that this process has reversed itself, and time is now playing AGAINST Israel I will also discuss the factors that have led to this strategic change, and recommend a few policies for Israel to reverse this dangerous process

4 An Analogy to the Electoral Map in the U.S. You are all familiar with the electoral map of the U.S. during a presidential campaign Some states are marked as solid Democrats Others as solid Republican Other states as leaning towards the Democratic candidate Yet others, as leaning towards the Republican A few others are undecided: too close to call

5 Geo-Political Map of the Middle East In an analogy to the electoral map in the U.S., I would like to show the geo-strategic map of the Middle East as of a few years ago and compare it to the current one Let’s divide states and non-state actors into two camps: The moderate camp The radical axis or alliance Using a visual simulation, I will demonstrate the changes in the region in the past few years, why this has happened and what needs to be done to halt this dangerous process

6 Turkey Iran Iraq Syria Saudi Arabia Jordan Yemen Oman UAE Lebanon Egypt Radical Islamist Camp Increasingly Radical In transition, outcome uncertain Moderate Camp Stable Democratic Rather Moderate The Middle East in 2008-09

7 Turkey Iran Iraq Syria Saudi Arabia Jordan Egypt Yemen Oman UAE Lebanon The Middle East in 2011 Radical Islamist Camp Increasingly Radical In transition, outcome uncertain Moderate Camp Stable Democratic Rather Moderate

8 Main Reasons for this Strategic Shift The missile era, which makes the small country of Israel more vulnerable The de-legitimization campaign against Israel (both by imposing legal constraints and political constraints) A radicalization process in the Arab world, originating with the Iranian revolution of 1979 The weakness of the U.S. in the region as a consequence of an unsuccessful war and eventually a phased withdrawal from Iraq, and the lack of a crushing victory in Afghanistan. The global financial crisis of 2008-09 What Fareed Zakaria calls: the Post American World

9 Internal Fights among the Jews Do not Help Either Internal divisions and “fights” A governance crisis in Israel which stems, in part, from a defective political-electoral system. Everybody knows that this is a problem, yet no one is doing anything about it Gaps in Israeli society that originates from a shift from a somewhat socialist model to a more individualistic, capitalistic model with ramifications for the solidarity of Israeli society. Israel is a deeply divided society: those who call for Greater Israel and those who advocate for withdrawal from the Territories

10 The “King” of External Alliances Until now, the Arab confrontation states did not have the ability to defeat Israel, even collectively We are approaching the point when they will at least think or assume (probably mistakenly) they can do so One of the key reasons for their success is President Ahmadinejad Do not underestimate his appearance or his speeches The man is the “king” of official and unofficial alliances He is the entrepeneur and the catalyst for building the Radical Alliance/Axis in the Middle East He is the champion of the Radical Axis and he does so in a very successful way A constraint on this trend has been the Sunni-Shiite divide

11 Decision Making of the Adversary The Calculus of decision of the adversary (the Radical Axis) can be represented in… an equation This equation states that the collective, aggregated military capabilities of the radical states (minus the damage they will incur in future war) will at some point be greater than Israel’s capabilities plus Israel’s strategic partnership with the U.S. Ʃ CAi - Ʃ DAi > CIsrael + P (Credibility of Israel’s strategic partnership with the U.S.)

12 Is time on the side of Israel? Time Geostrategic Advantage

13 Is Israel Vulnerable? The second war in Lebanon demonstrated to the Radical Camp the vulnerability of Israel to missile attacks on its civilian population The Israeli doctrine of moving the war rapidly to the territory of the enemy, while important, requires a major revision when the adversary has tens of thousands of missiles that can reach virtually every point in Israel (Prof. Avineri) Put it simply: just like in soccer or basketball or any sport, one can not play without a solid defense The Israel anti-missile system, while sophisticated technologically, does not provide a complete answer and is expensive

14 The geographical dimensions Add to this, the small and narrow size of the State of Israel (smaller than NJ) and you see that Israel is vulnerable, despite its might offensive and deterrence capabilities

15 What Can be Done to Counter This Trend? Let’s return to the electoral map of a Presidential Campaign in the U.S. which I referred to at the beginning of my talk When a state is leaning towards the opposition, the goal of any candidate is to change the state’s position—moving it into their column. This is not rocket science. It is common sense.

16 Geo-Strategic Push The web of formal and informal alliances of radical states and non-state actors which threaten Israel, all of this even before Iran has gotten nuclear power, should convince Israel that a diplomatic initiative is in its best interests Israel should attempt to move Syria away from the radical alliance, before it will be too late and irreversible The leaks by Al-Jazeera show that there is a partner on the Palestinian side and that the gap between Israeli and Palestinian positions can be bridged Israel should make a considerable effort to bring Turkey back to the more neutral position it held until recently

17 The best defense is a diplomatic offense

18 Democratic Egypt: A Median Voter Model Democratic Egypt: A Median Voter Model It can be shown that, even if Egypt will become democratic, radical forces in Egypt will gain more power at the expense of moderates, as Thomas Friedman has correctly pointed out in the NYT last week This can be shown using the Median Voter model When the majority of the public and opposition groups in Egypt is hostile to Israel, then, based on this model, supporters of peace with Israel will be positioned at the margins of the Egyptian political map

19 Democratic Egypt Egyptian voters in favor of a party that advocates peace with Israel

20 The American Position Many in the region (less in the U.S. or Europe) have asked, why did President Obama disassociate himself so quickly from President Mubarak? Obama has plenty of reasons to do so from his point of view: o The move places him closer to the Arab masses. Recall that in his Cairo Speech, he declared that Islam is part of America o It disassociates him to some extent from the losers o It fits his human rights and peaceful values o It is in line with the need to spread democratic values

21 Median Voter Model—U.S. From a domestic political position, so important for any political leader of a democratic state, in his/her quest for re-election, Obama will be able to take credit for “bringing democracy to the authoritative Middle East” Same way as George Bush Sr. with regard to the Fall of the Former Soviet Union Doesn’t matter that the transition to democracy may take years, may not happen, or may even lead to a military confrontation between the radical and moderate forces. The key is that it is a DEMOCRACY

22 US Voters Supporting Democratization in the Middle East U.S Voters Supporting Mubarak

23 … and a word for Thomas Friedman Tom Friedman’s argument in the NYT a few days ago that PM Netanyahu can become the Mubarak of the Peace Process does not make sense to me. It took me some time to understand what such a distinguished journalist as Friedman is saying However, in the case of Benjamin Netanyahu, it is the other way around: Netanyahu navigates between political parties on the Right which paralyze him, in a DEMOCRATIC system. His moves and actions are derived from working under constraints of a democratic, political coalitionary system.

24 Conclusions Due to processes of radicalization in the Arab World, perceived weakness of the U.S. in the region, an armament races resulting in tens of thousands of missiles in Radical Arab States and the emergence of Iran as a significant power in the region, time is playing against Israel in the Middle East. There is a need for an Israeli peace initiative to reverse this dangerous trend.


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