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30 April 2010


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Truly amazing analysis! Thanks for sharing it!


Very interesting analysis. It does explain why our officials are constantly trying to reassure the Israelis.


On reflection, there is one small addition I'd make.

Jabotinsky conceived of the Iron Wall as a way to show Arabs that Israel was impregnable. As a result, they would be persuaded to negotiate a peaceful co-existence with Israel. And that concept worked with Egypt and Jordan.

Despite the affirmation of Jabotinsky in peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, somewhere along the way his concept got perverted to the notion that an Iron Wall was needed because Arabs would never agree to co-exist with Israel. This is where the Zionist project began to unravel, because Israel's existence came to depend on overwhelming military superiority.

Disproportionate power bred arrogance, intransigence, and a need for increasingly frequent and brutal demonstrations of military might, as a clear message not to f**k with the Jews. Sharon's invasion of Lebanon in 1982 was the first clear indication that Israeli military power was out of control.

Then in 2006 Hizballah returned the favor, popping the balloon of Israeli deterrence, exposing Israel to commensurate destruction, and putting the whole world at risk of an uncontrolled meltdown of the Zionist project.

frank durkee

If the 'worst case' set out above became a lively option, use of atomic weapons against others, what should the US actions be?

Patrick Lang


There doesn't seem to be any real proof of Syrian transfer of SCUDS to Hizbullah. I want to see a picture of one in south Lebanon.


So, Israel is basically a Jewish North Korea, then? Given the developments of last few years, I'd come to conclude that being a mad dog that's too dangerous to bother is exactly the attitude taken up by the North Koreans--although with enough provocations that the temptation to give it good kick is becoming too irresistible sometimes. Of course, Israel, like North Koreans, have been acting increasingly provocatively lately as well...


kao_hsien_chih, I like the analogy, China is to NK, as we are to Israel.


Were Israel to threaten Europe with nuclear weapons, no jew in Europe would be safe, ever again.


David, thanks a lot for the positive mention of my earlier comments.

I've often wondered, and Col Lang, please tell me if I'm crazy, that Europe and America's strongly pro Israel attitude has something to do with their own fear of Israel's nukes. Professor Crevald suggests it might. In my view, if the situation were ever actually to come to such a point, my guess is that most Israelis would prefer to live in Europe than die in Palestine. But I can't blame anyone for not wanting to test that hypothesis.

But assuming Crevald is right, then someone may come to the conclusion that the best defense against a Mad Dog is a madder dog. Hence the real fear behind Iran's potential nuclear capability. Would Germany be so willing to sell nuclear capable subs to Israel if they thought Iran had nukes? Would Europe back Israel to the hilt in every conflict, if Iran also had a "Samson option?" Just food for thought.

I would be shocked if Hezbollah had the means to actually take and hold territory inside Israel. Infiltrate and cause damage, maybe. But actually grab an Israeli town and repel Israeli attacks?? I would be shocked. But if they could, they absolutely would. It would have to be a war started by Israel and not them. Hezbollah's biggest fear isn't a war with Israel, but being **blamed** for a war with Israel.

Thanks for a great write up.


Thank you for the excellent analysis.
The comments on the use of nuclear weapons reminds me of an argument I was having with a colleague about Israel/Iran. I believe the point I was trying to make at the time was: release of tactical nuclear weapons by the US could (only) happen in the event that US forces having been cut off from resupply and under threat of being over run following an Israeli strike and Iranian response. Regional war, particularly one which promises heavy losses, would make much that is unthinkable acceptable.


Adam L Silverman

Mr. Habbakuk: Excellent post! I have a question and a comment. Its been a long time since I've looked at the Jabotinsky/early revisionist Zionist stuff, but I'd appreciate it if you'd clarify for me: my understanding was that the revisionists actually held (hold?) both the positions that you lay out up front - that Israel is an isolated outpost because the Arabs are brutal, violent, etc and as a result the Iron Wall was (is?) necessary. As such it would seem that this is less an abandonment of one for the other and more of an emphasizing the latter conception and backgrounding the former. I am very curious as to your take on this.

Also, the link to Professor Lustick's paper is dead, but given that he runs one of the premier agent based modeling labs in the country, my guess is that he wouldn't be making this assertion unless he had run enough simulations to be confident of the conclusions.

Patrick Lang


The US afraid of Israel? Does an eagle fear a chicken hawk? pl


We are going to have to meet in real life some time - this format is just lacking for such a subject.

Your volcano analogy is apt except of course that there is less randomness.

I don't actually think most of the leadership on both sides of the divide underestimate the dangers. Their continued saber rattling should be seen as being in spite of the dangers.

I think Lustick's analysis that the Iron Wall has been abandoned is correct but I am not buying his reasoning that it is happening because Israel is coming to the conclusion that it is surrounded by peoples who they see "as irrational, brutal and violent, imbued with intractably anti-Semitic hatreds fortified by deeply anti-Western, Muslim-fundamentalist fanaticism".

The reason I don't buy this is that one, even Ben Gurion himself accepted that Arab opposition to Israel had nothing to do with faith and two Israel today has, at the very least, amicable relations
with more Arab states than not (although these relationships were strained to a lesser degree in 06 and a greater degree in the attack on Gaza).

The Iron Wall has been abandoned, in my opinion, because after 91 the Israelis no longer felt the need to prove its military strength coupled with the semblance of an actual peace process with the Palestinians. At the same time the settler occupation of the West Bank and Israels water problems I believe led them to the conclusion that they would never give up what the Palestinians wanted for peace and the Palestinians would never sign on to what they were being offered.

But any semblance of the wall they wanted to retain was first damaged in 2000 and I believe finally crumbled in Lebanon and Gaza. The simple fact is the IDF ain't what it used to be and its foes aren't the incompetents they used to be.

I used to agree with the notion that if the Israelis really thought about it, they would realise Hizballah and Hamas are not the existential threat they are made out to be. But if we think about it, existential to Israel has a different definition to the rest of the world precisely because of its faith based raison d'etre.

The resistance to Israel therefore is existential, not because Israel may be defeated but because the threat and danger may be enough to push its brightest and its best to leave. By the same token that is why there is so much opposition to Iran's nuclear ambitions.

Which of course then begs the question of why the Israeli leadership works so hard to portray its opponents as "irrational, brutal and violent". Surely they are only doing their opponents job for them by scaring more and more Israelis to leave.

So I do think their existential fears are real if we accept that existential means something slightly different to Israel.

Will Israel left to its own devices collapse on itself? I don't believe so. It will only drift evermore towards to the right, making it even more attractive to the US right wing evangelists and garner their protection. But, according to Hizballahs current strategy, they are perfectly happy to wait. There will only be a response to an attack - They cannot, politically be seen to be launching the first strike this time (although as a caveat I don't know how any possible retaliation operation for the Mughniyeh assassination fits into the scheme of things).

To be honest, I think to Nasrallah, the route Israel takes is only important if it goes via Lebanon (acceptance of Israel, grudging or otherwise is not going to be on the minutes of any Hizballah meeting anytime soon).

So if Israel does resort to this all out war, what of the response.

The Iranian response will I think be very much based on who attacks it and how. As the Colonel has pointed out previously, the big question is if this attack happens, the Israelis need to use someones airspace.

The Hizballah response will, in the main, be retaliatory and symmetrical as Nasrallah said.

Leaving aside any infantry movements, the first question has to be could Israel and the Israeli public cope with the kind of destruction done to Lebanon in 06? Could its economy? Lebanon could because the Lebanese are used to it.

But in my post I specifically meant that it would be what happens on the ground that will make the difference.

I think Hizballah's strategy of advancing into Israel is not so much a goal as an eventuality they predict as a result of how often it happened in 06.

If they can cross over as easily the next time then they want to be ready to hold onto that land and make Israel that little bit smaller.

The thinking however, and I apologise if I misrepresented this, is not for an immediate and decisive victory.

It is that if they plan to and are able to push into any of the land that was part of historic Palestine (much of Northern Israel was actually Lebanese owned but that's a different story) the Israeli belief that the "barbarians" had entered Rome would be panic inducing.

So what I was in fact suggesting was not that Hizballah's advance would be predicated by Israeli panic but the other way around.

Its true that any advance into Israel would allow for the old stereotypes to be rekindled but if you believe you are fighting the last war that isn't an argument you will care for. But that is also why Hizballah will not initiate the next round. By being the victim, they will use the "cant stand the heat stay out of the kitchen"t defense.

The Nukes are obviously the large radioactive elephants in the room. I am not, believe me, sanguine about them and only put forward possible hopes on why they wont be used. But the truth is that the Samson option may very well be implemented no matter how Hizballah reacts if the disintegration of the Zionist project is at hand.

But, just to be clear, I am not saying Hizballah wants or even expects a "decisive victory". They do not have the manpower or resources to achieve anything like that. Their strategy is that by simply pushing the IDF back, they will put enough doubt in enough Israelis so as to catalyze the disintegration.

I wouldn't be too concerned about genocide against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza if a war were going that badly for Israel. In that scenario I think Hamas and the fighting forces of Fatah would quickly patch up their differences and create more fronts against Israel.

I am far more concerned with the "legal" cleansing going on right now in Jerusalem and the West Bank (where now under Israeli law, if you are from Gaza, you are classified an "illegal immigrant" and "deported".

To draw back from speculation and look at things from as they are, the situation in Lebanon today is that deterrence is working. Israelis love to point out that 2006 was a success because their Northern border has never been so quiet, while forgetting to mention that is was they who made the noise.

And any future war would be "defensive" for Hizballah in that it would be in response to an Israeli attack. The only difference this time is I believe, that Hizballah are planning a strategy that minimizes the cost to Lebanon, in infrastructure definitely, but more importantly in lives. How they will do so without triggering an apocalyptic response we can only wait and see as it would be horrifyingly ironic that they would trigger such a response as a result of having a strategy that is aimed at saving lives.


here's the link without the punctuation at the end...:)




Thanks for the most informative posts. As one who was trained to duck under the school table in case of a Soviet attack, my fundamental belief is that a nuclear salvo would never be limited and would inevitably lead to use of the entire arsenal and nuclear winter. This scenario, MADD, deterred Stalin, Mao, Khrushchev, Kennedy, Reagan and Bush.

MADD falls apart when a non-state organization obtains a nuclear weapon or a religious State, led by a true believer, has a limited number nuclear weapons and perceives its existence is under attack.

The only way to counter the extinction perception is to lower tensions by ending occupations and securing borders. However, bringing Peace to the Middle East and avoiding a nuclear apocalypse is non priority just like the New Orleans levies, regulating derivatives, or requiring an acoustic switch on the oil well shut-off valve. Vested corporate interests are making money off of war, graft and pumping oil on the cheap; no matter what catastrophe awaits.


I often think there's a Nobel Peace Prize for anyone who could convince Israel to move shop. This is not a new idea, but one not open to public debate. There are plenty of more pleasant places in the world that are under-populated.


Col. Lang:

I’ve been following this thread with interest and ignorance. Dr. Silverman’s question to ‘mo’ as how to access Professor Lustick’s article and ‘mo’s’ answer was beyond helpful.

I found Prof. Lustick’s paper “Abandoning the Iron Wall: Israel and “The Middle Eastern Muck” an extraordinary history lesson that offered me a level of basic knowledge about Israel and its existence much as your videotape did for Islam. It gave me a way to approach the issues in David’s post that would otherwise have been beyond my comprehension.

Lustick’s paper also raised questions for me about possible domestic parallels including the consequences of our not dealing with our long standing problem with immigration policy and the likely loss of European (Caucasian) hegemony; our political drift into tolerating the demonizing our own and other peoples and our patent and growing preference to avoid dealing with the hard stuff as too dangerous politically.

If there are other papers out there of similar character, please don’t be reluctant to post them.


Um, is the 'end of the Zionist project' modeled on the way the Muslims fled Mecca because it was under nuclear threat?

Like any cultists who believe that they are protected by God, the settlers are extremely unlikely to go anywhere. And I'd expect that very few ordinary Israelis would flee either although they might send a son or daughter abroad.

As the Muslim world develops, the IDF advantage necessarily shrinks. I'm no military strategist but I would be extremely surprised if the IDF currently could not do to any given Arab country what we did to Iraq. What Israel does not have, and never had, is the ability to govern afterwords.

Given the irredentist impulses in some forms of Islam, Israel is not irrational to wonder whether a permanent peace is available for any price from the current generation of Muslims. It may not be their own situation but rather the attack on the United States which is convincing Israel that a co-operative two state future is implausible and leading them to take defensive actions which render it even less likely.

Patrick Lang


"the attack on the United States"

What attack on the US? pl

Eagle In the Mountains

I found Mr. Habbakuk's discussion very interesting. I also found Lustick's paper very interesting and informative. But I found Col. Sam Gardiner's report very disquieting. Some remarks and questions about Gardiner's report:

1. Why does it come across as advocacy rather than analysis? Why does it sound like it had the assistance of a professional novelist (ignoring the poor proofreading that left an editor's stylistic remarks in the body of the text)?

2. Is the model for an American-Israeli intervention in Iran (whether America is coerced by Israel or not) the war in Iraq (which was easy in its initial phases in part because the CIA had bought off Iraqi generals) or the War in Kosovo (where the military results of bombing were less than satisfactory)?

It would be useful if someone could comment on the technical military aspects of Gardiner's report. Is it going to be so simple?

Eagle In the Mountains

Forgot to add:

3. Don't the Iranians have an intelligence service that spends its time reading reports like Gardiner's? Wouldn't they be making appropriate recommendations? Wouldn't they be listened to?



It does not take a large percentage of a population to cause chaos.

William R. Cumming

Israel as many others are about to really find out what a world led by the "others" is capable of doing?
Too bad the American leadership frittered aways its influence for a few shekels. Because of lack of foresight,imagination, talent, and plain old corruption American is now faced with a leadership in all facets that cannot lead. WOW and it seemed to happen so fast. No wonder superheroes are back in vogue.


'We possess several hundred atomic warheads and rockets and can launch them at targets in all directions, perhaps even at Rome. Most European capitals are targets for our air force.'

If we don't give the Isrealis what they want they're going to shoot us?

Geez, sometimes I think my kids are a little too spoiled. What kind of people think like this?


@DH, COL Lang, mo and the others,

Thanks for a truly informative and enlightening thread!

The "mad dog" analogy of DPRK and China to US-Israel seems more than apt. Both nations suffer the wagging of respective tails.


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