Sacrificing His Core Supporters in a Race Against Defeat
Now that the Gulf War is over, Israel will have to take a hard look at its security doctrine and ask itself a number of key questions about its future security. The 39 missiles fired at Israel brought with them a sense of trauma compounded by humiliation over the fact that the country would have to absorb these strikes in its heartland without hitting back. This was the first time since the 1948 war of independence that Arabs had succeeded in striking at Israel's civilian homefront.
The country's inhabitants, young and old, were forced to don gas masks; infants were placed in special incubator-like devices to protect them against chemical weapons. Many Israelis, especially those who had survived the Holocaust, were haunted by gruesome associations. And despite the American effort to demolish the missile launchers, the attacks did not stop, though they did abate somewhat. Even a superpower, it seems, did not find it easy to neutralize the missile threat quickly.
Though the Scuds did not pose an existential threat to the country, the civilian population remained vulnerable. And all the while, because of political constraints, Israel had to make do with passive resistance instead of actively defending itself.
Israelis cannot avoid asking what could have happened if the war had taken a different course.
If Saddam Hussein had directed his forces westward, toward Israel, rather than southward into Kuwait? If he had sent a few dozen divisions into western Iraq and deployed some of them along the Jordanian border? His agents could have fabricated incidents on the Israeli-Jordanian frontier to provoke the Israelis into retaliating against Jordan. He could have explained the movement of his forces into western Iraq by citing the need to aid Jordan.
Militant public opinion would have forced King Hussein to allow the stationing of Iraqi forces on Jordanian soil, as he had in 1967. Israel would have taken this move as the crossing of a "red line," but its ability to respond would have been limited. The army would have had to declare a massive call-up of reserves but would not have been able to keep them mobilized for long, as the Israeli economy would soon have been devastated. Thus the government would have had to face the question of whether to launch a preemptive strike; even had it refrained from doing so, Saddam Hussein would probably have found a way of provoking Israel into war.
It is reasonable to assume, moreover, that such a war would have been joined by Syria, forcing Israel to deal with a broad eastern front on which it would face the armies of Iraq, Syria and Jordan. The Iraqis would have stationed most of their missile launchers in western Iraq, some close to the Jordanian border or even hidden within Jordan proper. Reducing the range to Israel would have enabled the Iraqis to increase the amount of explosives in their warheads, thus causing greater damage.
It is highly doubtful whether in a scenario of this sort the U.N. Security Council would have supported Israel, or that the United States would have mobilized an international military coalition to come to Israel's aid. The American air force would not have flown sorties to protect Israel, and American satellites would not have supplied Jerusalem with advance warning of the missiles launched from Iraq.
It is also questionable whether the Israeli air force, proficient as it is, would have been able to neutralize fully the threat of the Iraqi ground-to-ground missiles while simultaneously having to deal with the air forces of Syria, Jordan and, of course, Iraq, whose planes would not have fled to Iran.
Thus Israel would soon have found itself caught up in a nightmare scenario. The missiles would have paralyzed civilian life and the economy. Israel's citizens throughout the country-and especially along the coast, where most of the vital targets are located-would have been forced to live in air-raid shelters. An Israeli offensive would have entailed enormous losses-more than in any previous war-coupled with civilian casualties behind the front lines.
Finally, a war of this kind would have culminated either in an Israeli victory-though not a total victory because of the size of the forces, the distances involved and a price so staggering that Israel would probably not be able to recover from it-or in a possibility that many may regard as extreme but cannot be discounted: an Israeli defeat.
In such a war, Israel would presumably feel pressed to use the atomic weapons reportedly in its arsenal. These would extricate the country from defeat if they were used in time-meaning before the Arab armies entered its territory. They might be used later, in the final stages of the fighting, to punish the Arab states for violating Israeli territory. And of course there is the possibility that the United States would have bailed Israel out of the war in the last minutes.
Most Israelis doubt that an international coalition headed by the United States would have arrived to save them, as it did Kuwait. In any case, there would be little point in receiving such aid if it came as late as it did for Kuwait. And even if it did arrive promptly, Israel would be reduced to a psychological cripple from the standpoint of its morale.
Without saying so outright, many Israelis, including senior army officers, know that Iraq's latest war could well have followed this harrowing scenario. Saddam Hussein's mistake was to turn on Kuwait first, evidently in a desire to stock his coffers in preparation for the next war-against Israel. These officers therefore speak of the way the war actually unfolded as almost a miracle for Israel. But many Israelis have already begun to ask: How long can this country rely on miracles?
The scenario noted here may be particularly grim, but it cannot be shrugged off when drawing the lessons of the Gulf War and assessing the dangers to Israel and the region, absent a comprehensive peace settlement in the Middle East.
Until the outbreak of war, Washington did everything possible to keep Jerusalem at arm's length so that no one could possibly entertain the slightest suspicion that Israel had any connection with the anti-Iraq coalition. President Bush and Secretary of State James A. Baker even avoided speaking to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzak Shamir on the phone. Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Arens almost forced himself on Defense Secretary Dick Cheney by going to the Pentagon uninvited, under the auspices of a Washington research institute.
Jerusalem was less concerned by the meeting between President Bush and Syrian President Hafez al-Assad than by America's refusal to discuss, even secretly, the various military options available to Israel in the event that it were attacked by Iraq and had to respond immediately. The cooperation between the two countries' intelligence agencies was minimal at this stage, and there were no consultations on operational matters-to the point where doubts arose in Israel about the significance and seriousness of the strategic cooperation between the two countries.
These doubts were further compounded by friction with the administration over Israel's lobbying efforts in Congress to block a huge arms deal with Saudi Arabia. Congress had allocated $700 million for arms and equipment to Israel, and in consultations with the administration it was decided that the armaments would include a battery of Patriot missiles (against aircraft, not the updated model for use against missiles). With the exception of the Patriots, however, none of this hardware reached Israel, even after the Gulf War broke out.
But the man who ultimately determined Israel's position in the war was Saddam Hussein. From the moment the first Iraqi missiles fell on Israel's cities he created a strategic problem that Washington could not ignore. The possibility that Israel would intervene in the war and draw Jordan in its wake became a real and present danger. There was a good chance that Saddam Hussein would succeed not only in widening the conflict but in transforming it into an Arab-Israeli war. For that reason, Washington had to quickly persuade Jerusalem to reverse its long-standing custom and refrain from responding to the strikes against its population centers.
The United States was also forced to direct more of its combat resources than it had originally planned toward destroying the Iraqi missile launchers. From a military standpoint, it might have been preferable to leave action against those launchers until a later stage of the war. But because of possible strategic complications, field commanders were ordered to schedule thousands of sorties against the missiles. Planes flew over launching areas in western Iraq almost 24 hours a day. The extent of advance warning of launched missiles, detected by American satellites, was increased, enabling Israeli citizens to gain a number of precious minutes to take cover.
After the first missile barrages, six batteries of improved Patriot missiles, together with American soldiers to operate them, were rushed to Israel. Jerusalem had to disregard its traditional aversion to foreign soldiers fighting its wars; all Israel asked was the tools to defend itself on its own. (Late in the war a contingent of Dutch soldiers also landed in Israel, together with another battery of Patriot missiles.) A standoff war conducted with missiles was enough to make Jerusalem revise this basic principle.
Although cooperation between Israel and the United States improved in terms of sharing intelligence, it remained severely limited in the operational sphere, even after Israel had come under attack by Iraqi missiles. From this standpoint Israel remained an outsider-though attention was paid to its advice on how to attack the missiles in western Iraq.
Jerusalem was well prepared to reveal its operational plans to Washington-and to its astonishment some secret details were leaked to the media in the United States. But none of this changed Washington's determination to prevent Jerusalem from responding to the missile attacks. The allied effort to knock out the missile launchers did reduce the number of attacks on Israel. But more to the point, Israel found itself unable to manifest its military might and was reduced to depending on the United States even in a sphere in which its forces might have found better operational solutions.
The Israelis were struck by the fact that the American effort against the Iraqi missile launchers was confined to air attacks, even after the ground war was in progress (except for a raid before the end of the war in which SA-2 ground-to-air missiles were destroyed). They thought it strange that the Americans were not using combat helicopters and commando units in their "search-and-destroy" operations against the launchers. A more ambitious ground action, mounted by airborne troops moving in from Saudi Arabia, could also have created a buffer between Jordan and Iraq, thereby reducing the pressure on Jordan while ensuring that Israel would not have any reason to intervene in the war.
Again and again the Israelis implied that if they took responsibility for destroying the missile launchers in western Iraq, they would do a better job. Without question Israeli pilots have more operational experience than their American counterparts. Many of them had undergone years of training in hitting missile launchers and other small targets.
It is also likely that the Israeli air force would have ordered its pilots to attack from a lower altitude to increase the chances of better hits, even if that meant incurring higher casualties. An Israeli pilot would certainly be prepared to take greater risks, knowing that he was defending his own family wearing gas masks in a shelter. But unleashing the Israeli air force would certainly have drawn Jordanian planes into the war, especially as it would have been impossible for Israel to mount a broad operation in western Iraq without entering Jordanian airspace. And if Jordan had challenged the Israeli planes, it might have lost its air force in the process.
Moreover, though it stands to reason that the Israeli air force would have scored better results against the Iraqi launchers, its commanders admitted there was no guarantee that even after a massive aerial operation the Iraqis would not be able to send off more missiles from launchers that had escaped its strikes. Only a ground operation could completely neutralize the missile threat, but Washington was adamantly opposed to that idea.
The effort to demolish the launchers raised serious questions about intelligence reports regarding Iraq's missile systems and military capability as a whole. At the start of the war Iraq had some thirty mobile missile launchers. But the daily communiqués issued in Riyadh by the spokesman of the Central Command created the impression that the Iraqis had considerably more launchers. Repeated American statements that Iraq's military might should not be underestimated and that it would take a grueling war to drive the Iraqis out of Kuwait also raised eyebrows in the Israeli General Staff.
For years there had been serious disagreements between the Israelis, who repeatedly stressed the dangers posed by the Iraqi war machine, and American intelligence experts, who counseled Israel to take that threat somewhat less seriously. These debates generally took place whenever Israel offered its assessment of the military situation in the Middle East and presented the force ratio that it would require to deter its enemies, or defend itself should deterrence fail.
The United States suggested not only that Israel had over-estimated Iraq's potential but that if a war broke out Israel could readily defeat any military coalition that might join in league on its eastern front. Washington also argued that Jerusalem was exaggerating its reports of the Iraqi atomic threat.
A few days before the invasion of Kuwait, Defense Minister Arens requested a meeting with Defense Secretary Cheney. Arens was accompanied to Washington by Israel's chief of military intelligence, General Amnon Shahak, and they brought new information about Iraqi activities in Europe showing that Baghdad was making a special effort to step up its development of atomic weapons. The Israelis returned from that meeting with the uneasy feeling that the Americans had taken their warning too lightly.
The American outlook changed radically once the United States itself had to face the Iraqi military machine. Suddenly contempt for the Iraqi army gave way to profound wariness. The new forecast was that it would take a substantial force-far larger and stronger than Israel's army-to defeat Iraq. Israel's conclusion from this volte-face was that it would be necessary to treat future American and other intelligence assessments of threats to its security with appropriate suspicion.
That Israeli intelligence had a far better grasp of the Iraqi threat than its American counterpart does not exempt it from the need, in the aftermath of this war, to grapple with some tough questions about its status and performance. Since Israel has a militia-like army based on its reserves, intelligence is granted an especially favored status so that it can provide ample warning of any threat emerging from an Arab state. Obviously this role will take on even greater importance if Israel should relinquish the occupied territories as part of a political settlement.
Although the Israelis proved to be right in their argument with American intelligence, they too were insufficiently informed about what was going on in Iraq, especially in comparison with their knowledge of events in Syria and Jordan.
Israeli intelligence was not surprised here, as it had been in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. It knew that key information about Iraq was lacking. Distance, the difficulties of operating in a totalitarian state and the limited resources that the government had allocated to this task all affected the amount of information that could be assembled. Attention was focused primarily on the frontline confrontation states, but it suddenly emerged that Israel could face a difficult challenge from more distant Arab lands.
That some of these countries had equipped themselves with nonconventional weapons and simple means of delivery was enough to transform them into more of a peril to Israel than the frontline states. Instead of sending expeditionary forces against Israel, as it had done in earlier wars, a country like Iraq could now take part in an armed conflict from afar by means of its missiles. Since distance alone was a major obstacle to obtaining intelligence, one of Israel's conclusions will undoubtedly be to step up development of its own military satellite capability.
Another lesson of the war will surely be that a peace treaty with one Arab state bordering directly on Israel, such as Egypt, is not enough to balance out the grave threat from Arab states farther away, so that any potential settlement must embrace all the major states in the Middle East.
Considerable property damage was sustained by residential areas in Israel's cities, but the actual number of casualties from the 39 missiles was low. It is wrong, however, to judge the effect of the attacks by this yardstick alone.
The real criterion for assessing their impact is the role they would have played had Israel stood alone in battle. It took only a few missiles to inflict heavy damage on the country's economy; much of Israel's business activity came to a halt. Many residents were quick to flee the greater Tel Aviv area. Even the flow of immigration to Israel, which had risen to thousands of people per week just before the war, dwindled drastically. If the Americans failed to eliminate the missile threat altogether, Israel would nonetheless have found it considerably more difficult to cope with this problem on its own. Its population would have had to retire into shelters for hours, perhaps even days at a stretch.
The Israelis had long known that Iraq had these missiles in its arsenal, as do other Arab states, such as Syria. But it is one thing to know that a peril exists and quite another to experience it firsthand.
Before the war a number of Israeli generals argued that the missiles posed so limited a threat that the country should not waste money preparing to defend itself against them. Their chief concern was that due to pressure from a terrorized public, the air force would be forced to reorder its priorities. Instead of concentrating first on achieving air superiority (deemed absolutely essential to win a war), it would have to search out the missile launchers menacing Israel's population centers (a threat the military defined as negligible and certainly tolerable).
Given that they are armed with conventional warheads, missiles of the type fired on Israel cannot decide a war. But in large quantities they can have a damaging cumulative effect. Even missiles designed more to sow terror than destroy vital targets can have a strategic impact if enough of them (say 100 or 200) rain down on population centers at unpredictable intervals. Certainly this is true if such strikes are combined with a ground assault.
As soon as the Iraqi missiles began landing on Israel, it became obvious that the country's long-standing security doctrine-requiring that as soon as a war breaks out, the Israel Defense Force (IDF) must shift the fighting onto the enemy's territory-had become outdated. Because these attacks were perpetrated by a distant Arab state and by means not of ground forces but of missiles overflying another Arab country, the Israeli army simply could not implement this doctrine. Its hands were tied even in terms of employing planes and missiles, for Washington was insisting that Jerusalem exercise complete restraint.
Israel, moreover, understood that it was in its own best interest not to do anything that might prompt a premature ceasefire when the United States was, after all, demolishing the war machine of one of its most powerful enemies. This was, in fact, not the first time that Israel had been forced to abstain from taking an action dictated by pure military logic. On October 6, 1973, when the armies of Egypt and Syria carried out their concerted attack, Prime Minister Golda Meir and Defense Minister Moshe Dayan chose to reject the chief of staff's advice to mount a preemptive air strike, lest Washington think that Israel had started the war.
In looking toward the future, Israel cannot ignore the fact that more sophisticated missiles will be far more accurate and can be directed at strategic targets such as airfields and other vital facilities, while the less accurate and cheaper missiles can be used against population centers. Thus those calling for a greater investment in antimissile defense will probably carry the day, especially as the Arabs will at some point be able to arm their missiles with nonconventional warheads.
Israel will undoubtedly be sinking more money into the development of the Arrow antiballistic missile. But since the development of such sophisticated weapons systems is very costly, and the cost of purchasing them is similarly high, Israel's defense expenditures will soar as a result of the need to protect itself against ground-to-ground missiles. Even if Washington aids in funding the development of an antiballistic missile, Jerusalem will have to spend sizable amounts of its own both to develop the Arrow and to purchase other missiles. Nor will that be the end of the matter.
One of the lessons of the Gulf War will undoubtedly be the necessity to invest more in civil defense and in building shelters to protect the population against chemical, biological and atomic warfare. The emphasis up to now has been to invest primarily in offensive means-the army's "teeth"-and relatively little in defensive ones. Israel will find itself hard pressed to do both. In fact it is doubtful whether the economy will be able to bear these costs, and even generous military aid from the United States will not suffice to cover Israel's future security needs.
The missile attacks on Israel also revived the old debate about the importance of the occupied territories, particularly the West Bank, for Israel's defense. Palestinian leader Feisal al-Husseini was quick to declare that Israel's vulnerability to attack from afar is proof that the territories do not enhance its security. The question is of course whether this claim is valid.
It is worth noting that the risks stemming from Israel's geographical position may well have been the prime factor dictating the country's security doctrine. Were it not for this particular determinant, for example, it would certainly be easier to reach a compromise in the Israeli-Arab conflict. Until 1967 Israel found itself in something of a geographical trap: the narrow coastal strip, where over 75 percent of its population resides (meaning most of its reserve soldiers) and where much of the state's strategic targets are found, was commanded by the nearby mountainous region, the West Bank. Almost all of the country's airfields, for example, were within range of artillery stationed over the border.
As a result Israel's strategic planning was based upon two principles: first, to ensure that in the event of a war the fighting would quickly be transferred onto the enemy's territory; second, to resort to preemptive strikes, and even a preemptive war, should it become clear that the enemy was about to launch an attack.
The outcome of the 1967 Six-Day War changed this situation, at least on the face of it. The appendage of the occupied territories gave Israel the sense that it had acquired both time-for sufficient warning against an air assault-and a security zone that would help delay an Arab armored assault, especially in the event of a surprise attack. This strategic depth bolstered the belief that it would be possible to absorb a first strike, rather than rush into a preemptive war against an enemy massing for an assault. However, the missile firings during the Gulf War showed that Israel's existing strategic depth does not provide protection against all types of attack.
The asymmetry between Israel and the Arab states, which enjoy ample strategic depth, carries over to missile warfare as well. The distance between Israel and western Iraq, for example, where the missiles were launched against greater Tel Aviv, is less than 600 kilometers, while the distance between Israel and Baghdad is about 1,000 kilometers. While Iraq can cover most of Israel's territory with its present arsenal of missiles, Israel would not be able to cover even a small portion of Iraq if it had similar missiles at its disposal.
Thus once again Israel has discovered that the addition of territory does not necessarily increase its deterrent capability. Yet this does not mean that territory no longer has importance for its defense. A missile attack on call-up centers and reserve-unit stores is precisely what can slow down the mobilization of reserves, making it all the more important to keep the enemy's armored columns well away from the vital facilities along Israel's coast.
Unfortunately even this portrayal of the occupied territories as a useful buffer is not entirely satisfactory. It might be more convincing if the areas in question were unpopulated. But the West Bank and Gaza Strip are teeming with Palestinians who are in themselves a security problem (to say nothing of a moral and political problem) for Israel because they are so adamantly and actively opposed to living under Israeli rule.
The conclusion to be drawn from these circumstances is a complex one. The importance of territory (in this case the West Bank) for Israel's defense cannot be dismissed, but territory does not always enhance security. Under certain conditions, like those existing in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, the risks posed by additional territory are greater than the benefits they accord. The debate in Israel today is not just about military questions per se but about the future character of Israeli society in the absence of peace. And the answers to these questions must be found in a compromise with the Palestinians and the Arab states that spells out Israel's minimum security conditions for a peace settlement.
Yet the greatest concern Israel has felt as a result of this war is related to its deterrent capability. Although its political leaders and senior military officers have repeatedly declared that the army's deterrent posture has not been prejudiced, the public harbors deep doubts about these assurances.
The issue of deterrence has always been at the heart of Israel's military thinking and has often been the motive behind military operations, as well as the factor determining their scope and force. This doctrine holds that Israel must develop maximum deterrent capability and that if such capability is not effective on its own, the army can always be activated at full force. The aim is to firmly establish among the Arab leaders and military commanders the knowledge that there are some things Israel cannot tolerate without reacting, and that its response will be all the more punishing if the Arabs cross certain "red lines."
More than once Israel has mounted particularly bold retaliatory strikes to shock the Arabs and discourage them from taking certain steps. The bolder these actions were, the stronger the feeling that deterrence would be fully effective. Occasionally Israel's forcefulness bespoke its vulnerability more than its strength. The weaker and more imperiled Israel felt, especially in the 1950s and 1960s, the more drastic its actions tended to be.
As a rule the doctrine of deterrence worked. But once in eight years or so, the usual military actions did not suffice, and Israel found itself involved in a more extensive war. Following these clashes the country's deterrent posture was usually strong again, but with time it inevitably eroded. This mechanism worked especially well against the Arab armies but less successfully in regard to the Palestinians engaged in terror operations, because they had less to lose.
Moreover, even when the effectiveness of Israel's deterrent posture was low or on the wane, the Arab states were careful never to strike at the country's population centers. That was clearly one of Israel's "red lines," and the Arabs knew that in the case of an attack on its cities, Israel's response was likely to be the most drastic of all. The common belief that Israel has atomic weapons certainly played a prominent role in dissuading the Arab military from mounting a massive attack on its population centers. That is why Israelis were so astonished when the first Iraqi missiles landed on Haifa and Tel Aviv.
If, prior to the invasion of Kuwait, I had been asked to assess how Israel would respond to a missile attack on its cities, I would have replied without hesitation that the immediate reaction would be a vigorous one that would probably cause the deaths of countless citizens. Moreover that certainly would have been my answer after Israel's prime minister and minister of defense repeatedly issued stern warnings to Saddam Hussein not to pick a fight with Israel. The conventional wisdom was that Israel might even resort to nonconventional weapons if Iraq engaged in chemical warfare.
Needless to say, things turned out quite differently. Israel realized that good operational plans and a readiness to act were not enough; the political circumstances must also be auspicious. In the case of the Gulf War they forced Israel to exercise restraint, limiting itself to civil defense when it was under attack. This was a policy that Israel had never pursued before, and even the Arabs were surprised by Jerusalem's conduct.
Israel must now assume that a similar situation can recur. It has learned that, notwithstanding its desire to respond forcefully to an attack, it does not live in a vacuum, even if the aggressor is a despot like Saddam Hussein.
The greater its dependence on the United States, the greater the limitations on its freedom of conduct. What the United States allowed itself in wartime-including the destruction of two atomic reactors and the dropping of thousands of cluster bombs on Iraq-is not applicable to a small country like Israel, even if the reasons for adopting such measures are more justified. Certainly in this case Israel had good reason to take the United States' firm advice not to move against the missile launchers in western Iraq. Jerusalem's decision was informed by the knowledge that Saddam Hussein wanted to extend the conflict and transform it into an Israeli-Arab war by having Israel attack Jordan on its way to striking Iraq.
There was also an understandable fear that Israeli military intervention would lead to a premature ceasefire precisely when the preferred Israeli interest was the destruction of the Iraqi war machine, which the United States and its allies were achieving far more effectively than Israel ever could. The general assumption in Israel was that at the start of the ground war Jerusalem would find an opportunity to land a blow of its own on Iraq. But by then the missile attacks had abated considerably, and there were few quality targets left in Iraq. The ground war, moreover, ended remarkably quickly.
Has Israel's deterrent capability been damaged as a result? The fact of the matter is that Saddam Hussein was not deterred even by the might of the United States. He erred in his assessment that Washington would resign itself to his invasion of Kuwait. Following pure military logic, he should have been apprehensive from the moment that such a large military force was mobilized against him.
Israel was only a minor front in the war that awaited him, and there is little reason to expect that Saddam Hussein would be disheartened by the might of the IDF when he was not fazed by the United States and its allies. The fact that Saddam did not use chemical weapons against Israel even when he was under great stress from the attacking forces shows that he understood there are some things Israel simply could not tolerate, even if Washington was opposed to any Israeli response.
The fear in Israel that the army's deterrent capability has been diminished stems more from a sense of humiliation, over being subject to attack and not responding, than from cold analysis of the situation. Saddam Hussein may not have been cowed by the United States, but the latter treated him to a thorough drubbing, whereas Israel was forced to remain passive while dozens of missiles were launched at its cities.
Humiliation is one thing, however, and deterrence another. For Israel's enemies witnessed not only the missile attacks but also the immediate U.S. aid to Israel in the form of batteries of Patriot missiles, the services of its satellites warning of missile launchings and the heavy bombing of the Iraqi launching sites throughout the war. Following America's lead, both Germany and the Netherlands announced that they were sending Patriot missiles to Israel. Thus Israel's enemies saw that it did not stand alone when faced with a grave military threat, and that, too, is an aspect of deterrence.
Only time will tell whether Israel's deterrence has actually been affected by its restraint in the face of the missiles raining down on its population. The true answer to this question should be sought not in Israel, whose frame of mind as a nation under siege may have skewed its outlook on this point, but among its potential enemies and in the face of the Middle East after the Gulf War.
Will the allied military victory be translated into political gains, helping to end the Israeli-Arab conflict, or will this triumph also go down in history as just another episode on the battlefield? And in the event of failure, will Israel's enemies conclude that if the IDF was passive once it will remain passive again in the event that its population centers are hit? Israel must naturally take into account the possibility that a new Saddam may arise in the Middle East and will similarly fail to calculate the harm that may befall his people if he should instigate a war.
If the effort to arrive at broad-based political settlements in the Middle East-which must include arms-control arrangements-should fail, it will no longer be possible to speak of conventional deterrence. For this will have been the last major war in the Middle East to be fought with conventional weapons.