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  • Author: Galen Jackson
  • Publication Date: 03-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: How influential are domestic politics on U.S. foreign affairs? With regard to Middle East policy, how important a role do ethnic lobbies, Congress, and public opinion play in influencing U.S. strategy? Answering these questions requires the use of archival records and other primary documents, which provide an undistorted view of U.S. policymakers' motivations. The Ford administration's 1975 reassessment of its approach to Arab-Israeli statecraft offers an excellent case for the examination of these issues in light of this type of historical evidence. President Gerald Ford and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger decided, in large part because of the looming 1976 presidential election, to avoid a confrontation with Israel in the spring and summer of 1975 by choosing to negotiate a second disengagement agreement between Egypt and Israel rather than a comprehensive settlement. Nevertheless, domestic constraints on the White House's freedom of action were not insurmountable and, had they had no other option, Ford and Kissinger would have been willing to engage in a showdown with Israel over the Middle East conflict's most fundamental aspects. The administration's concern that a major clash with Israel might stoke an outbreak of anti-Semitism in the United States likely contributed to its decision to back down.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Regional Cooperation, International Affairs, Domestic politics
  • Political Geography: United States, Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Or Rabinowitz, Nicholas L. Miller
  • Publication Date: 06-2015
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Many accounts suggest that the United States did little to prevent Israel, Pakistan, and South Africa from developing nuclear weapons. These accounts are flawed, however. The United States did attempt to stop all three countries from acquiring the bomb and, when those efforts failed, to halt additional proliferation measures such as further testing and weaponization.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Military Strategy, Nonproliferation, Denuclearization
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, United States, Israel, South Africa
  • Author: Michael L. Gross, Jerome Slater, Davis Brown, Tamar Meisels
  • Publication Date: 10-2013
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Jerome Slater's normative treatment of Israel in the 2008–09 Gaza War spotlights an often misunderstood domain of the security studies field: just war theory. This is a largely understudied area, given its normative framework of analysis in a field that historically is largely devoid of norms. My sense is that this journal may be becoming a forum for the reintroduction of this framework to the field, thanks to Slater's article and Robert Pape's call for a revised standard for humanitarian intervention. As a student of the ethics of war, I welcome this development. But precisely because just war theory is understudied, it is still highly prone to oversimplification and abuse. Slater regrettably engages in both in his attempt to apply it to the conduct of Israel in the Gaza War.
  • Political Geography: Israel
  • Author: Jerome Slater
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Scholars and policymakers regard the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as one of the most serious and intractable conflicts in today's world. In particular, there continues to be fierce controversy over the most recent large-scale Israeli military action in that conflict: the three-week attack on Gaza that began on December 27, 2008.
  • Topic: War
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Benjamin S. Lambeth
  • Publication Date: 10-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Assessing major combat experiences to help rectify errors made in the planning and conduct of operations has enjoyed a long and well-established tradition in the fields of military history and security studies. In particular, since Operation Desert Storm against Saddam Hussein's Iraq by U.S. and coalition forces in 1991, the pursuit of "lessons learned" from major combat has been a virtual cottage industry within the defense establishments of the United States and its principal allies around the world.
  • Topic: Security, War
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Israel
  • Author: Malfrid Braut-Hegghammer
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Thirty years after the Israeli attack on the Osirak reactor in June 1981 the consequences for Iraq's nuclear weapons program remain hotly debated. A new history of this program, based on several new Iraqi sources, yields a net assessment of the impact of the Israeli attack that differs from prevailing accounts. The attack had mixed effects: it triggered a covert nuclear weapons program that did not previously exist, while necessitating a more difficult and time consuming technical route to developing nuclear weapons. Notwithstanding gross inefficiencies in the ensuing program, a decade later Iraq stood on the threshold of a nuclear weapons capability. This case suggests that preventive attacks can increase the long-term proliferation risk posed by the targeted state.
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Israel
  • Author: Hal Brands, David Palkki
  • Publication Date: 06-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Efforts to understand Saddam Hussein's strategic thought have long been hampered by the opacity and secrecy of the Baathist regime. Newly available, high-level Iraqi archival documentation demonstrates that in the late 1970s and early 1980s, Saddam viewed nuclear weapons through a fundamentally coercive, revisionist lens. He had long hoped to wage a grinding war of attrition against the Israeli state, and he believed that Iraqi acquisition of the bomb would neutralize Israeli nuclear threats, force the Jewish state to fight at the conventional level, and thereby allow Iraq and its Arab allies (with their larger economic and population base) to prosecute a prolonged war that would displace Israel from the territories occupied in 1967. These findings have implications for the existing theoretical literature on the causes and consequences of nuclear proliferation, as well as for the growing body of work on “nuclear alarmism.” The Iraqi case undermines the thesis that states proliferate primarily because of defensive concerns. Saddam certainly viewed possession of the bomb as a means of enhancing Iraq's security, but his attraction to nuclear weapons revolved around offensive objectives. Saddam hoped to exploit the deterrent balance with Israel to initiate a bloody conventional war that would have likely been immensely destructive and destabilizing for the Middle East as a whole. In other words, though Saddam never obtained nuclear weapons, his views on their potential utility give good cause for both pessimism and alarm.
  • Political Geography: Iraq, Israel, Arabia