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Politics and Strategy of Nuclear Weapons in the Middle East, The

Opacity, Theory, and Reality, 1960-1991 -- An Israeli Perspective

Oded Brosh, Shlomo Aronson

Publication Year: 1992

Based on research from an array of American, Arab, British, French, German, and Israeli sources, this book provides a nuclear history of the world’s most explosive region. Most significantly, it gives an exposition of Israel’s acquisition and political use, or nonuse, of nuclear weapons as a central factor of its foreign policy in the 1960-1991 period. In stressing the factor of nuclear weapons, the author highlights an often-neglected aspect of Israeli security policy. This is the first interpretation of the historical development of nuclear doctrine in the Middle East that assesses the strategic implications of opacity—Israel’s use of suggestion, rather than open acknowledgment, that it possesses nuclear weapons. Aronson discusses the strategic thinking of Israel, the Arab countries, the U.S., the former Soviet Union, and other countries and connects Israeli strategies for war, peace, territories, and the political economy with the use of nuclear deterrence. The author approaches the development of Israeli doctrines on nuclear weapons and defense in general within a large matrix that includes the United States; Israeli perceptions of Arab history, culture, and psychology; and Israeli perceptions of Israel’s own history, culture, and psychology. He also deals with Arab perceptions of Israel’s nuclear program and with Arab and Iranian incentives to go nuclear. In addition, he discusses at length the importance of nuclear factors in the conduct of the Persian Gulf War and examines the implications of the decline of the former Soviet Union for arms control and peace in the Middle East.

Published by: State University of New York Press

Series: SUNY series in Israeli Studies

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

This book was originally part of a larger manuscript entitled "Jewish Wars." In "Jewish Wars" I attempted to describe and analyze Zionist and Israeli behavior pertaining to war and peace since Hitler's rise to power. The sociocultural history of the Yishuv and the formative years of contemporary Israel were studied in some detail, in order to understand the Yishuv's political behavior and several crucial decisions made ...

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pp. ix-xiii

In May 1991, United States President George Bush announced an arms control initiative for the Middle East. His main targets were nuclear weapons, missiles capable of carrying them, and other weapons of mass destruction, such as chemical and biological warheads. Mr. Bush's public initiative was rather short; but in it, he declared the Middle East to be especially dangerous in regard to nuclear weapons, and ...

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CHAPTER ONE. Strategy, History, and Politics

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pp. 1-16

Nuclear strategy-both in regard to proliferation and nonproliferation- must be studied within a political-historical context. Yet one of the original assumptions behind the nonproliferation campaign can be sought through deductive and apolitical thinking, as Robert Jervis argued about Western deterrence theories ten years ago.1 An apolitical ...

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CHAPTER TWO. The American Paradigm and Early Efforts to Limit Proliferation

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pp. 17-40

The Americans developed nuclear weapons because they believed that the Nazis were making an effort to gain control of such weapons in conditions of total war.1 The road to World War II and the onset of war itself combined to produce theory and praxis in the West concerning the bomb. Nazism had deliberately broken the rules of international behavior ...

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CHAPTER THREE. The Israeli Paradigm:American Controlled Opacity?

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pp. 41-60

The second Eisenhower Administration was confronted with two cases of covert proliferation: the French case and the Israeli case. Although one generally associates Kennedy with the nonproliferation program, actually the first serious crisis between Washington and Jerusalem in this regard took place under Eisenhower. Kennedy inherited ...

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CHAPTER FOUR. American Intervention

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pp. 61-82

The Israeli-French nuclear connection of the late 1950s could be interpreted in terms of nuclear "sharing."' This followed the American- British sharing earlier in the 1950s, which may have made sharing with Israel seem justified to the French. They may have seen Washington's "collusion" with Moscow in regard to the abortive Suez War as ...

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CHAPTER FIVE. The 1967 War

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pp. 83-112

Just before Lyndon Johnson inherited the problem of Israel's nuclear option, President Kennedy gave Prime Minister Eshkol written assurances of Israel's boundaries in order "to influence Israel's behavior in regard to the reactor in Dimona."1 Executive agreements like this are usually secret and, therefore, not as binding as open agreements, let ...

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CHAPTER SIX. The Road to the Yom Kippur War

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pp. 113-138

In 1967, it took Eshkol several weeks to get the cabinet to agree to use the mobilized troops in a preventive war. The IDF had been pressuring the cabinet to undertake this move from the beginning of the crisis, when the issue was brought to a head as Nasser imposed a blockade on Israeli shipping to Eilat. In doing this, he unilaterally returned to ...

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CHAPTER SEVEN. The Walls of Jericho

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pp. 139-150

Israel's "defensible boundaries" proved to be the suitable ground for a conventional Arab attack. While conventional preemption remained the official defense doctrine, the "defensible boundaries" were supposed to have rendered it unnecessary. But according to several non-Israeli and Israeli sources, nonpublic nuclear threats were radiating ...

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CHAPTER EIGHT. Sadat' s Peace

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pp. 151-166

The next logical step in Sadat' s strategy would have been to accept and gain support from America-the superpower that had the most influence on Israel's behavior. Egypt had to work closely with Washington, despite the influence of the Jewish lobby in America, to avoid the limitations of the previous game-pushing the United States toward ...

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CHAPTER NINE. The Doctrine of Opaque Nuclear Monopoly

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pp. 167-184

Shortly before the 1981 elections, the Israeli Air Force attacked and destroyed the Iraqi nuclear reactor Tammuz 1 near Baghdad. Several months later, Begin became prime minister for the second time, thanks, among other things, to the successful attack, and to the unpopular counterarguments presented by Shimon Peres, the new chairman of ...

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CHAPTER TEN. Lebanon and the Demise of the Begin-Sharon Cabinet

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pp. 185-196

Sharon now used a new language of opacity, clearly understood by Washington, Moscow, and some Arab leaders-but not by the Israeli and Arab peoples. In opaque language, he extended Israel's nuclear threat over the occupied territories as a whole, and gave up the last resort option. His forceful-and highly controversial-personality ...

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CHAPTER ELEVEN. From Lebanon to the Intifada

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pp. 197-230

Prime Minister Shimon Peres seemed not to be interested in foreign affairs as a top priority, but rather in economic problems and in the endless Lebanon war, which became a major domestic source of concern. However, in May 1985, under Peres as prime minister and Shamir as his senior deputy and foreign minister, the usually well-informed ...

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CHAPTER TWELVE. The Rebirth of Pan-Arabism?

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pp. 231-258

As we saw in Chapter 11, Palestinian nationalism has been one of the main problems of the Middle East. The "high political" goal of exiled Palestinians was proclaimed to be the regaining of their homeland, in its entirety or at least by establishing sovereignty in a part of it; and for local Palestinians it was freedom from foreign-i.e., Israeli ...

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CHAPTER THIRTEEN. India, Pakistan, North Korea, Algeria, Iran,and the Rest

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pp. 259-270

Up to this point, we have focused on nuclear proliferation as it applies to countries in the Middle East: Israel, Egypt, Libya, Iraq, and Syria. We have not mentioned Algeria yet, because the news about its Chinese-acquired reactor was published worldwide only in mid-1991. 1 This reactor is described as a heavy-water research reactor, "too small to ...

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EPILOGUE: The End of Opacity?

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pp. 271-296

Several weeks after I finished writing the previous chapters, war broke out in the Gulf. Since then the war seems to have been won, and the "new order" for the Middle East, including the end of the previous nuclear game in that region, was proclaimed by President Bush. But before we discuss this new order, let us first examine the use ...


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pp. 297-356


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pp. 357-370

Name Index

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pp. 371-380

Subject Index

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pp. 381-398

E-ISBN-13: 9780791495346
E-ISBN-10: 0791495345
Print-ISBN-13: 9780791412077
Print-ISBN-10: 0791412075

Page Count: 398
Publication Year: 1992

Series Title: SUNY series in Israeli Studies