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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Why deterrence isn't enough

Israel has the Arrow anti-missile system. It has the Iron Dome anti-missile system for short range missiles. It is rumored to have a second-strike nuclear capability. So why isn't it enough to live with a nuclear Iran? It seems obvious to me, but Louis Rene Beres explains.
The answer lies in certain untenable assumptions about any system of ballistic missile defense. No system of ballistic missile defense, anywhere, can be correctly judged as simply “reliable” or “unreliable.”

Reliability of intercept is a “soft” concept, and any missile defense system will have “leakage.” Whether or not such leakage would fall within acceptable levels must ultimately depend largely upon the kinds of warheads fitted upon an enemy’s missiles.

In evaluating its disappearing preemption option vis-à-vis Iran, Israeli planners will need to consider the expected leakage rate of the Arrow. A tiny number of enemy missiles penetrating Arrow defenses might still be “acceptable” if their warheads contained “only” conventional high explosive, or even chemical high explosive. But if the incoming warheads were nuclear and/or biological, even an extremely low rate of leakage would plainly be intolerable.

A fully zero leakage-rate would be necessary to adequately protect Israel against any nuclear and/or biological warheads, and such a zero leakage-rate is unattainable.
Read the whole thing.


At 9:51 AM, Blogger 935684 said...

I think that this entry could be more accurately titled, "Why defence isn't enough."

Deterrence implies that the nation has both the means and the will to use sufficient destructive power to render the enemy unwilling to risk a first strike. Real deterrence should be sufficient. It's also absolutely necessary.

Defence, no matter how effective, is ultimately a losing strategy. Eventually, the defender will suffer grievous casualties.

The only way to be victorious is to attack. Until Israel is ready to do so, deterrence will suffice. A modern day Maginot Line won't work.


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