I first wrote about the modern applications of ancient Chinese military principles, as articulated specifically in Sun-Tzu’s classic, The Art of War, over ten years ago, and returned to the topic from time to time. At least one other author has developed this theory as it pertains specifically to U.S. strategy, as well. The time is right to revisit this conversation, and to integrate classical Greek notions of dialectical reasoning, which I have considered separately in the context of an “avant-garde” approach to decisionmaking, and which makes increasing sense as a complement, indeed, a necessary component, of a strategic thought process inspired by Sun-Tzu.
For Israel, in particular, now already at the eleventh hour with respect to any remaining unilateral options for preemptive self-defense against a steadily-nuclearizing Iran, ancient principles could signify a possibly last opportunity to learn something genuinely indispensable. An examination of Sun-Tzu’s The Art of War should focus upon Israel’s nuclear deterrent, and on its corollary but routinely changing order of battle.
Israel’s Defenses and Deterrence
Israel’s national defense against aggression has never been solely vested in technological remedies. Instead, it has relied, from its national beginning in 1948, on assorted forms of deterrence, including nuclear deterrence. It is true, of course, that Israel has recently been placing an increasing emphasis on its ballistic missile defenses, especially the Arrow, or Hetz, programs. But, because any system of BMD could ultimately display unacceptable levels of “leakage,” the ultimate guarantor for national survival has steadfastly and more-or-less conspicuously remained the country’s (now still tacit, or undeclared) nuclear threat.
Ironically, as U.S. President Barack Obama pursues rapprochement with Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, pressure will build upon Jerusalem to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (1968), and/or to enter into a “Nuclear Weapon Free-Zone.” If Israel denuclearizes, the deteriorating balance of power in the Middle East caused in part by the so-called “Arab Spring” and Iranian nuclearization – which I have described elsewhere in my writings and lectures as a “correlation of forces” issue – could fundamentally threaten the Jewish State.