Living with the bomb
Israel will need new security doctrine to cope with Iranian nukes
Towards the end of the War of Attrition between Israel and Egypt, in the summer of 1970, a Sagger missile was fired at an Israeli tank on the banks of the Suez Canal. I don’t remember whether the missile hit its target or not, yet back then some IDF commanders were already taking note.
The Sagger was more accurate than the missiles of that time and possessed a longer range; it was clear that a new era in anti-tank combat was underway, yet as only one missile was fired until the ceasefire in August of that year, it did not prompt a commotion. The armored corps issued a guide, but it collected dust.
On that cursed Yom Kippur in 1973, the surprise was great: Hundreds and some say thousands of Egyptian teams armed with Saggers stopped the IDF’s tanks and pulverized them. They learned something in the wake of the armored corps’ rush forward in the Six-Day War.
After every war, the other side learns the lessons and seeks ways to overcome the IDF’s advantages. And so, for example, the missile arsenals across the border grew exponentially in order to overcome the Israeli Air Force’s clear advantage.
The Iranian nuclear bomb, which is expected to be produced in our region in the coming months or years, is the direct result of drawing lessons, and it is of course unlike any other weapon currently found in the Islamic world. The view that we are too late in preventing the production of such bomb is increasingly taking root, and not only among Israel’s leaders. Some people say the point-of-no-return passed two years ago.
One way or another, all the zealous supporters of a strike who see in their mind’s eye the ruins of Iran’s nuclear sites should know that even a massive operation would only serve to delay the project by two or three years. And then what? In other words, Israel’s leaders must put their heads together, and maybe they already did, in order to determine the policy and possibly even Israel’s way of life in respect to the new situation: Life under the shadow of the bomb.
New era approaching
There is no reason to panic. A large part of the world, and certainly the United States, Russia, and all European nations lived under the shadow of atomic bombs for almost 40 years – a period that political scientists and journalists characterized as the balance of terror. Nonetheless, in most areas of life the citizens did not feel it and continued to live their lives normally.
However, and for us this is a big “however,” the policies and security doctrines changed. Nothing remained as it was. In our case, we can already see the buds of an alliance (not just yet, not just yet) being formed among Iran, Syria, and Turkey (some generals apparently noticed it in Ankara too, and when they wanted to do something about it they were immediately transferred to a vacation in prison.) Such alliance, if it indeed materialized, will completely change the balance of power in the Mediterranean region, and not in Israel’s favor.
Life under the shadow of the bomb will require us to listen more closely to (and in fact, accept) America’s words of advice, and we should be quick to sign (if it agrees) a defense pact with it. Thus far, our leaders refrained from signing such pact for fear that it would limit our freedom to maneuver. Yet now there will apparently be no other choice.
With life under the bomb, the Americans and Europeans will likely make demands – which are being presented at this time already – in respect to Israel’s presence in what they refer to as the occupied territories, and there is no need to say much here. Life under the bomb’s shadow will also have implications on the daily life here, yet these deserve a separate discussion.
As noted, there is no reason to panic. There is hope, yet our government would do well to shift to an up-to-date and upgraded doctrine. A new era in Israel’s history is apparently approaching. We will still remain unique and the chosen people in the view of some of us, yet we’ll be talking about it in a lower voice.