Lessons for Israel from Ancient Chinese Military Thought: Facing Iranian Nuclearization with Sun-Tzu Louis René Beres

I first wrote about the modern applications of ancient Chinese military principles, as articulated specifically in Sun-Tzu’s classic, The Art of War,[1] 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.


After our most recent adventure with the debt ceiling, the peculiar American budgeting institution’s reputation may be at an all-time low. But many fiscal conservatives are still willing to defend the debt ceiling because they buy a reasonable, public-choice-flavored argument in its defense. To permanently do away with the debt ceiling, fiscal conservatives who oppose it must offer a clear answer to this defense that looks at the debt ceiling’s benefits and costs, as well as what could take its place.

The sophisticated defense of the debt ceiling goes something like this: If purely rational decision-makers were in control of our budgeting process, it’s true we wouldn’t need a debt ceiling. They would realize that choices about levels of spending and taxation imply another decision about necessary debt accumulation. But we don’t have a rational process; we have a political one. Politicians always have the incentive to please myopic constituents by spending more and taxing less, and they would like to sweep the consequences under the rug. Happily, the debt ceiling makes it harder for them to do that by forcing separate consideration of debt. Quite sensibly, Americans overwhelmingly disapprove of “more debt,” so they don’t like raising the debt ceiling. Sure, they don’t fully think through the implications of not raising the limit — recent polls revealed that more than a third of Americans believed that raising it was not essential. But the electorate’s distaste for debt still makes the showdowns opportune moments for considering the big picture and charting a course away from profligacy and fiscal ruin.

That argument is coherent and plausible-sounding, but that does not make it correct. And in fact, it suffers from a fatal flaw: Once fiscal-conservative opposition to debt coalesces around the mechanism of the debt ceiling, it has nowhere to go and must be dissipated in surrender. Republicans’ recent back-down was completely predictable.

Far from offering fiscal conservatives a potent weapon, the debt ceiling represents a kind of roach motel for opponents of debt: They can go in for the chance to make self-righteous jeremiads, but they can’t escape until they’ve capitulated. The debt ceiling thus ensures that opposition to debt accumulation remains largely in the realm of the rhetorical.

A number of fiscal conservatives look back at the negotiations from 2011 and draw a very different conclusion: Then, they say, the debt ceiling did provide great leverage for fiscal conservatives to demand spending cuts. But they have drawn the wrong lesson. The debt ceiling has provided occasions for anti-debt speechifying for decades, and these moments have almost never yielded lasting budget change. Nor did it really provide the decisive advantage to Republicans in their marginally successful 2011 fight.

Instead, Republicans had leverage thanks to their historic gains in the 2010 congressional elections. President Obama felt compelled by that political result to seek some kind of “grand bargain” on spending cuts. There’s a good case to be made that more sensible and durable budget cuts could have been negotiated if the debt-ceiling deadline had not summarily ended the deliberations and left us with a hapless supercommittee and backup sequester, which remains likely to be reversed or quietly whittled away in the years to come.


‘All we’ve been hearing the last three years is if you like your policy you can keep it. . . . I’m infuriated because I was lied to,” one woman told the Los Angeles Times, as part of a story on how some middle-class Californians have been stunned to learn the real costs of Obamacare.

And that lie looks like the biggest lie about domestic policy ever uttered by a U.S. president.

The most famous presidential lies have to do with misconduct (Richard Nixon’s “I am not a crook” or Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sexual relations”) or war. Woodrow Wilson campaigned on the slogan “He kept us out of war” and then plunged us into a calamitous war. Franklin D. Roosevelt made a similar vow: “I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again: Your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.”

Roosevelt knew he was making false promises. He explained to an aide: “If someone attacks us, it isn’t a foreign war, is it?” When his own son questioned his honesty, FDR replied: “If I don’t say I hate war, then people are going to think I don’t hate war. . . . If I don’t say I won’t send our sons to fight on foreign battlefields, then people will think I want to send them. . . . So you play the game the way it has been played over the years, and you play to win.”

The burning question about Barack Obama is whether he was simply “playing to win” and therefore lying on purpose, or whether his statements about Obamacare were just another example of, as Obama once put it, “I actually believe my own” spin, though he used another word.

“No matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people,” he told the American Medical Association in 2009. “If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health-care plan, you’ll be able to keep your health-care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what.”

No matter how you slice it, that was a lie. As many as 16 million Americans on the individual health-insurance market may lose their insurance policies. Just in the last month, hundreds of thousands have been notified by their insurers that their policies will be canceled. In fact, it appears that more Americans may have lost coverage than gotten it since Healthcare.gov went “live” (a term one must use advisedly). And when the business mandate finally kicks in, tens of millions more probably will lose their plans.


After howls of protests from both American scientists [1] and Beijing propagandists [2] screaming “discrimination,” NASA has reversed its initial decision to exclude Chinese nationals from the Kepler Science Conference at the Ames Research Center in California early next month.

The reversal came after Representative Frank Wolf (R-VA), the author of legislation restricting contacts between NASA and China, indicated the Chinese should not be barred. “The congressional provision — which has been in place since early 2011 — primarily restricts bilateral, not multilateral, meetings and activities with the Communist Chinese government or Chinese-owned companies,” he wrote [3] to NASA on the 8th of this month. “It places no restrictions on activities involving individual Chinese nationals unless those nationals are acting as official representatives of the Chinese government.”

Wolf gave NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, who is broadly in favor of cooperation with Beijing, the political cover to invite the Chinese to the conference. Moreover, most analysts and observers think the ban in this case was ill-advised. As Geoff Marcy, the well-known astronomy professor at Berkeley, noted [4], “The meeting is about planets located trillions of miles away, with no national security implications.”

Is that so? “No, the PLA is not going to invade exoplanets in the Andromeda system, but the PLA is very interested in deep space,” analyst Rick Fisher, referring to the Chinese military by its initials, tells PJ Media. “Knowledge of deep space dynamics and operations is viewed by the PLA as necessary for ‘space control.’”

Marcy may know much about the heavens — he is said to be in line for a Nobel Prize, after all — but he could use a brush-up on China. “There is no such thing as a non-military related space program or non-military affected space researcher in China,” notes Fisher, a senior fellow of the International Assessment and Strategy Center and widely followed China military expert. “If the PLA wanted to use any of the insights that Chinese scientists gained from the Kepler Conference, those Chinese scientists would comply immediately.”

The Ten Worst Purveyors of Antisemitism Worldwide, # 7: The Golden Dawn Party By P. David Hornik

Check out the previous installments in this ongoing series:

#10: David Irving

#9: Roger Waters

#7: Recep Tayyip Erdoğan


The good news is that since September 28 the Greek government has been cracking down on Golden Dawn, the neo-Nazi movement that won almost 7 percent of the popular vote in spring 2012 and, ending up with 18 parliamentary seats, became Greece’s third strongest party.

On September 17, an antifascist rapper named Pavlos Fissas (aka Killah P.) was stabbed to death in Athens, allegedly by a Golden Dawn activist. Earlier attacks, including at least one fatal one on an immigrant, were also ascribed to Golden Dawn.

On September 28, Greek police arrested Golden Dawn’s leader, Nikolaos Michaloliakos, and other top party members on charges of running a criminal organization. Michaloliakos and two other deputies are now in jail awaiting trial. Meanwhile the Greek parliament has voted to strip six more Golden Dawn MPs of their immunity.

While the Greek constitution doesn’t allow political parties to be banned, the parliament also appears set to cut Golden Dawn’s state funding.

So much for the good news.

The bad news is that, first, Golden Dawn remains popular. It was scoring as high as 14 percent in opinion polls before the rapper’s stabbing, and since then has gone back down to about 7 percent. Whether or not that’s just a temporary dip is not yet known.

And second, as long claimed and as Financial Times confirms, one of Golden Dawn’s strongholds in the country is none other than the police:

Helping the U.K. Methodists With Their Israel Boycott Questionnaire: Robin Shepherd….see note please

My question: ” As a proper British subject, do you hate the Jews more than is absolutely necessary????” rsk

The UK Methodists have put out a questionnaire to help them construct a briefing on the arguments for and against boycotting Israel. As the deadline looms we offer some help
Consultation Questions

The wider context around Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)

1. What do you understand to be the motivation/inspiration behind the call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions in relation to Israel?

Ignorance, prejudice, and bigotry.

2. In your view, what would be the essential elements of any peace agreement in Israel/Palestine?

The Palestinians would need to end decades of rejectionism. They must finally accept the legitimacy of the Jews’ right to self-determination in their historic homeland. With that enormous obstacle out of the way, other matters can be the subject of reasonable compromise.


3. Do you support a boycott of products produced within Israeli settlements?

No. Do you support a boycott of products made in Northern Ireland, another disputed territory, or in Cyprus, or in…etc etc?

4. Do you support the call for a wider consumer boycott of all Israeli products?




Many Americans have forgotten, or never learned about, the Alger Hiss case. One of the most dramatic trials of the 20th century, it helps explain not only the rise of McCarthyism in the early 1950s and the presidencies of Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, but also the contemporary roles of Rush Limbaugh, Ted Cruz and the Tea Party.

The Hiss case casts light on why conservatives and liberals are suspicious of each other, on their different attitudes toward elitism, on their understandings of patriotism and on the parallel universes in which they seem to live.
In his 1948 testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities, Whittaker Chambers, a writer and editor for Time magazine and a former Communist, identified Hiss as a Communist. Hiss adamantly denied the charge. He said he didn’t know anyone named Whittaker Chambers. Encountering his accuser in person, Hiss spoke directly to him: “May I say for the record at this point that I would like to invite Mr. Whittaker Chambers to make those same statements out of the presence of this committee without their being privileged for suit for libel?”

Chambers took Hiss’s bait. In an interview on national television, Chambers repeated his charges. In response to the libel suit, he produced stolen State Department documents and notes that seemed to establish not merely that Hiss was a Communist, but that he had spied for the Soviet Union. Hiss was convicted of perjury.

California’s Prison-Litigation Nightmare : In 2009, Three Federal Judges Ordered the State to Release 40,000 Prisoners. Heather MacDonald

Is it any wonder crime is on the rise?

Ms. Mac Donald is a contributing editor of City Journal and the John M. Olin Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. This article was adapted from the Autumn 2013 issue of City Journal.

California Gov. Jerry Brown and the federal judiciary are locked in a dramatic constitutional battle over control of the state’s prisons. In 2009, three federal judges issued what Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has dubbed “perhaps the most radical injunction issued by a court in our nation’s history”: an order that California release up to 40,000 prisoners within two years to correct allegedly unconstitutional prison health care.

California has since spent more than $1 billion on new prison medical facilities, brought its correctional health care far above constitutional standards, and shed more inmates than are housed in all but a few states. Yet the judges show no sign of relinquishing their hold. California’s recent sharp increase in property crime—a rise eight times greater than the national average—may be one consequence of the judicial intervention.
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In this photo taken Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013, inmates walk through the exercise yard at California State Prison Sacramento, near Folsom, Calif. Associated Press

The prisoner-release order was the culmination of two long-running lawsuits, Coleman v. Brown and Plata v. Brown, in which an advocacy group representing California inmates, the Prison Law Office, challenged prison medical treatment. The attorneys alleged that understaffing and the incompetence of prison doctors resulted in serious misdiagnoses and long, sometimes fatal, waits for care.

In 2007, after years of litigation, a special three-judge panel was convened to consider the plaintiffs’ latest argument that overcrowding was now the primary source of remaining constitutional violations. The panel agreed, and in 2009 it ordered the state to bring the prison population, then at 150,118, down to 109,805. In May 2011, the Supreme Court, in a 5-4 majority led by Justice Anthony Kennedy, affirmed the panel’s release order, marking the first time the court had put its imprimatur on a prisoner-release directive. The panel then set the population reduction deadline for the end of 2013.

In response, Gov. Brown and the Democrats in the state legislature passed what Stanford law school Prof. Joan Petersilia has called the “biggest penal experiment in modern history.” Assembly Bill 109, known as “realignment,” would lower the prison count by sentencing felony property and drug offenders to county jail instead of state prison. The bill also virtually eliminates parole supervision—a perverse but simple solution to the alleged problem of too many parolees winding up back in prison for parole violations.

The complex bill has imposed potentially disastrous burdens on county sheriffs and city police departments, but it did accelerate California’s already falling prison count. From 2007 to the start of 2013, the prison census fell 42,000, and is now—at 120,000—at the lowest level in 17 years.

In January, Gov. Brown declared that California was capable of operating its own prison system and asked the three-judge panel to lift its prisoner release order. Prison overcrowding was a thing of the past, Gov. Brown maintained. The makeshift dormitories in prison gymnasia that had played so large a role in the Supreme Court’s opinion had been eliminated and prison health care is now far above the de minimis constitutional standard, he argued. California spends $17,924 per prisoner on medical treatment—four times what the federal government spends in its prisons and three times New York’s rate. Most offenders get better medical attention in prison than they would in their own neighborhoods.

The United States of Lou Reed- David Feith and Bari Weiss

Sometimes rock ‘n’ roll can accomplish more to promote freedom than translating the Federalist Papers. (Oh Puleez!!!! I appreciate Lou Reed but this is balderdash!!!! rsk)

It is somehow fitting that rock star Lou Reed died Sunday, in this season of American national angst over government shutdowns, mounting debt and declining influence abroad. That’s because the Velvet Underground frontman not only motivated Václav Havel and the Czechoslovak dissidents who challenged their Communist rulers and helped bring down the Soviet Union. He also demonstrated why, for all we hear about Washington’s sclerosis, it is still smart to bet on America in this century as in the last.

Not that Reed himself would have put it this way. Starting in the mid-1960s, his lyrics about urban life, drugs and sexuality made him one of rock’s leading transgressives. Later he lambasted the concept of the American dream (“Give me your hungry, your tired, your poor I’ll piss on ’em/That’s what the Statue of Bigotry says”) and railed against New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and the religious right. In recent years, he supported Occupy Wall Street and performed in Israel, even as some of his left-wing contemporaries boycotted the Jewish state.
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Former Czech President Vaclav Havel (R) and U.S. singer Lou Reed (L) arrive for a news conference in Prague, January 10, 2005. Reuters

But whatever his personal politics, Reed’s music took on a life of its own behind the Iron Curtain. In the 1970s Czechoslovakia’s anti-Communist movement coalesced around a Velvet Underground-inspired rock group called the Plastic People of the Universe. The Communist government branded the rockers enemies of the state for their long hair, crazy outfits, secret concerts and anti-authority lyrics.

Natural Decarbonation U.S. Carbon Emissions Fell in 2012, Thanks to the Oil and Gas Industry.

One of President Obama’s steadfast second-term priorities is his regulatory “climate action plan.” If the point is to reduce carbon emissions, the evidence suggests he’d accomplish more counting on capitalism.

The federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) reported last week, to too little media fanfare, that U.S. energy-related carbon-dioxide emissions declined 3.8% in 2012, bringing C02 emissions to their lowest level since 1994. The only year since 1990 with a steeper decline was 2009 amid an economic recession. The 2012 decline occurred even as the economy grew 2.8%.

Much of the 2012 decline was due to a warm first quarter that reduced the use of heating fuels, as well as fewer transportation emissions, as Americans drove less and overall vehicle miles were flat compared to 2011.
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Associated Press

More notable is that 2012 saw the largest drop in the overall “carbon intensity” of the economy since the feds began keeping records in 1949. The EIA reports that the boom in natural-gas production “substantially reduced the carbon intensity of electricity generation in 2012.” The switch to natural gas, mainly from coal, was so substantial that the resulting CO2-emissions decreases offset what was an “overall decline” last year in renewable power generation.

The EIA report also cited such Administration policies as mandates for more fuel-efficient cars as contributing to the carbon decline. But those mandates played a token role in the overall reduction, though they have cost consumers in higher costs for vehicles.