Peace, and even neutrality, have protected no state, ever. Small irrelevant states are tolerated, but they are rolled over without remorse when military needs arise. Germany occupied Belgium, and Italy annexed almost all the lands of the Vatican. Belgium was neutral, and the Vatican was even culturally indispensable for Catholic Italy. Israel cannot hope to convince the Muslims of her peaceful intentions and enjoy peace with them.
Hong Kong and Switzerland provide different examples. The evil empires of Communist China and Nazi Germany tolerated them out of utter economic necessity. But Hong Kong and Switzerland were indispensable for their imperial neighbors only because the evil states were isolated from the rest of the world. Muslim oil economies are very open, and do not need Israel as their gate into the world. Muslims won’t hesitate to wipe Israel off the map.
Could Israel possibly rely on outside protection, such as a mutual defense treaty? No country rose to defend Poland in WWII. Protection—however unreliable—could only come from the US, but its behemoth army wouldn’t be able to deploy in Israel before the Muslims overran her forty-mile depth of defense and annihilated the Jews.
Whatever are the peace arrangements, Israel would have to maintain military preparedness. Israel cannot conduct a defensive war in the current borders. Arab enemies could repeatedly mobilize at Israel’s borders without attacking her; Israel could either respond by mobilizing every time and eventually ruining her economy, or gamble that the Arabs won’t attack—and only once lose the gamble.
A peace treaty with the Muslims won’t help. Every war violates a peace treaty. Muslims fight their brethren, and won’t hesitate to attack Israel if her military might dwindles.
Israel is left with two choices. One is to maintain military capability indefinitely. That path is economically unsustainable. Another is to discourage the Arabs from encroaching on Israel. For that approach to work, our threat of must remain extremely credible; bluffing does not work long in international relations. Arabs must be unable to test Israeli defenses to see how Israel would react to this or that provocation, or to look for the breach in the retaliation doctrine. Israel should treat any clearly dangerous acts as casus belli. Israel may not tolerate Muslim acquisitions of WMD, modern aircraft and air defense systems, tanks and anti-tank missiles, or mobilizations. Confronting Syria over its military upgrade now makes more sense that defending Israel from a fully revamped Syrian army a few years later. Israel won’t need to fight very often. Once the credibility of Israeli response is established, Arabs will stop provoking her.
Israel must maintain a credible threat, but not an expensive, economically unbearable army. How so? Nuclear retaliation is the answer. Israel should not hesitate to employ nuclear weapons. Extensive and costly bombing of Lebanon could be replaced with pinpoint strikes with 10kt nuclear microcharges. A weapon of that size won’t even destroy a medium-sized village, and would cause no fallout dangerous to Israel. Numerous nuclear mushrooms, however, would terrify our enemies.
Attacks by regular Arab armies should be similarly countered with 20–50kt nuclear microcharges. Even the small 20kt weapons would not endanger the Jewish cities ten to fifteen miles away from the battlefield; the populations that have been exposed to the moderate levels of radiation around Hiroshima and Chernobyl are not particularly unhealthy. Israel could emulate the depth of defense by striking deep into the enemy’s territory. Large-scale bombing raids against Damascus, Cairo, or Tehran are prohibitively expensive, but 100kt nuclear bombs offer a practical solution: large enough to damage and frighten the enemy, yet small enough to avoid exposing Israeli cities to a radiological threat. Enemies will know that they cannot succeed even if they overrun narrow Israel.
Would the Muslims escalate in response to the Israeli nuclear threat? Yes, unless Israel proves the escalation to be a dead-end. During the Cold War, the US answered similar challenges with a doctrine of gradual escalation. Likewise, Israel would employ nuclear microcharges against the guerrillas, their supporters, and regular armies, and small bombs against the attacking enemy’s cities. If attacked with WMD, however, Israel would immediately demolish the Dome of the Rock, employ nuclear weapons against Mecca and Medina, and drop really large bombs on the enemy’s capitals.
That sounds like madness, but MAD, Mutually Assured Destruction, prevented the Cold War from becoming WWIII. Arabs won’t attack a dangerously mad Israel. A country prepared for total war will live in total peace. Besides, Israel has no choice economically other than to rely on nuclear weapons.