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The Politics of Nuclear War, Part 3

3,508 words


Samson, Asdod, Israel

Part 3 of 3

Portuguese translation here [2]

The Specter of the Holocaust 

According to Rosenbaum, Israel’s paranoid nuclear policy is justified by fears of a “second Holocaust.” He says that this term has been in use by Israelis since at least the 1960s to express their belief in the genocidal intentions of their neighbors, should Israel ever lose a war against them. Rosenbaum says he was prompted to begin using it in his own writings after reading Philip Roth’s 1993 novel Operation Shylock, in which one of the novel’s characters complains that, by relocating en masse to Israel, Jews have made Israel into a concentration camp of their own making, and that the second Holocaust could be accomplished very easily through the use of nuclear weapons. Rosenbaum claims that given Israel’s size, the vast majority of its population could be killed by just one or two larger-yield nuclear warheads.

For Rosenbaum, Zionist and Israeli fears over nuclear weapons in the hands of Muslims can only be understood within the context of the memory of the Holocaust, and the overwhelming drive to prevent it from recurring.[1] He is certainly not alone in this; Zionists have continually invoked Hitler and the Holocaust when discussing anyone who opposes them. Saddam Hussein was repeatedly compared to Hitler between 1990 and 2003, after the Americans and the Israelis, who both supported him during the 1980s against Iran, decided to put Iraq on the other side of the fence. With Hussein gone, Iran quickly took his place. “It is 1938, and Iran is Germany,” Benjamin Netanyahu has said. “And Iran is racing to arm itself with atomic bombs.”

In relation to this, in defending the idea of the second Holocaust, Rosenbaum briefly discusses the history of Haj-al-Amin Husseini, the former Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, a Palestinian Muslim leader who made radio broadcasts from Berlin during the Second World War in an effort to get Muslims around the world to fight on behalf of the Third Reich. This has become a common Zionist trope in recent years, and several books have already been published about Husseini, claiming that present-day Islamist rhetoric regarding Jews is directly descended from Husseini’s propaganda efforts. This is a rather clever stratagem, since it seeks to erase the Palestinians’ actual status as victims of Jewish repression and ethnic cleansing and instead places them on a par with the National Socialists themselves, thus making Palestinians culpable in the Holocaust.

While it is true that some Muslims (mostly from the Balkans) did serve in the ranks of the Waffen-SS, it is quite a stretch to argue that they had anything to do with German racial policies or with the operation of the camps. As for present-day Islamism, I find it hard to believe that the Palestinians (most of whom are not Islamists) needed recycled propaganda from the 1940s in order to learn to hate Jews, given the treatment they’ve received from them since 1948. Nevertheless, that is what Rosenbaum and others would like us to believe. It’s just a more elaborate version of their old standby of accusing anyone who criticizes Israeli or Jewish power of being a Nazi.

Rosenbaum had been writing and speaking about this matter for many years prior to the publication of this book, and he had already been taken to task by some critics of Israel for his insistence on invoking the Holocaust to justify Israel’s present-day politics. Amusingly, Rosenbaum refers to such people as “second Holocaust deniers” who are engaging in “Holocaust inconsequentialism.” He writes:

In many ways, Holocaust inconsequentialism is worse than Holocaust denial, because inconsequentialism doesn’t deny it happened; it acknowledges the mass murder but adds insult to injury by depriving those murdered lives of any possible meaning for the living. Actually, the wish to ‘banish’ it is not even second Holocaust denial: it’s a call for erasure of the first Holocaust, for elimination. The Final Solution to the Final Solution: forget it, eradicate it for all practical purposes.

This brought to mind Greg Johnson’s recent essay “Dealing with the Holocaust [3],” and his view that refuting the continuing relevance of the Holocaust in contemporary politics is a better strategy for those who seek to counter Zionist propaganda, rather than trying to deny that it happened.[2]

From the “Second Holocaust” to the “Samson Option”

The problem with associating what was, allegedly, the greatest atrocity in human history with nuclear politics is that it inspires an immense pretense of moral superiority. So much so, in fact, that Jews even feel justified in making threats, not only against their enemies, but even against their own allies. And this is something that readers around the world would do well to understand.

“The very secondness of the second Holocaust carries with it a temptation to abandon all thoughts of proportionality in retaliation, and to punish the whole world for allowing not one but two slaughters of a people,” Rosenbaum writes. And again, he is not alone in this idea. He is referring to the Samson Option, which has long been rumored as being an actual strategy on the shelves of the Israel Defense Forces to be brought out in the event that Israel chooses to employ nuclear retaliation in the face of total defeat. No one knows for certain what’s in it, since Israel has never admitted to its existence. Indeed, Israel has never confirmed that it has nuclear weapons at all, but enough clues have been unearthed over the years, some dropped by the Israelis themselves, that there are few doubts in anyone’s mind that they do. Some estimates place their arsenal as high as 400 warheads, which would make it one of the largest nuclear powers in the world. They continue to remain opaque about the matter in official terms, since admitting to having them would make Israel subject to international recrimination, and possible sanctions, under the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Some say that the Samson Option is merely a standard contingency plan to be implemented against a foe who is about to overtake Israel on the ground. Others say there is much more to it than that. It may call for an attack on the entire non-Jewish world.

Israel “would use their nuclear-armed missiles to do more than retaliate against Israel’s specific attackers but would use their nuclear missiles to bring down the pillars of the world (attack Moscow and European capitals for instance) on the grounds that their enabling – or toleration of – eliminationist anti-Semitism made both the first and second Holocausts possible,” Rosenbaum writes.

You read that correctly. In the minds of some Zionists, the destruction of Israel would entitle it to take the entire rest of the world down with them, even if the rest of the world had no actual hand in their defeat.

Rosenbaum is not the first to attempt to rationalize such a thing. He quotes an infamous op-ed piece that was written by Professor David Perlmutter of Louisiana State University in 2002: “What would serve the Jew-hating world better in repayment for thousands of years of massacres but a Nuclear Winter. Or invite all those tut-tutting European statesmen and peace activists to join us in the ovens? For the first time in history, a people facing extermination while the world either cackles or looks away—unlike the Armenians, Tibetans, World War II European Jews or Rwandans—have the power to destroy the world. The ultimate justice?”[3]

In a similar vein, Martin van Creveld, a prominent Israeli military historian who travels in the corridors of the Israeli government, said in 2003, “We possess several hundred atomic warheads and rockets and can launch them at targets in all directions, perhaps even at Rome. Most European capitals are targets for our air force. Let me quote General Moshe Dayan: ‘Israel must be like a mad dog, too dangerous to bother.’ I consider it all hopeless at this point. We shall have to try to prevent things from coming to that, if at all possible. Our armed forces, however, are not the thirtieth strongest in the world, but rather the second or third. We have the capability to take the world down with us. And I can assure you that that will happen before Israel goes under.”[4]

To me, this sounds like the ravings of an egomaniac or the screams of a spoiled child, a sore loser with the power to destroy the world in a fit of suicidal spite. If true, it removes any moral equivalency, much less superiority, that Israel may claim with the rest of the world, including its Muslim enemies. As far as I know, Pakistan, Syria, or Iran have never threatened to attack Russia, Europe, or Japan in retaliation for actions taken by the Israelis. Clearly Zionists really do not think very highly of non-Jews. The very idea of the Samson Option implies that they see themselves as morally superior to the rest of humanity, which has to be frightened into submission with fear-mongering and threats. Of course, we have no way of knowing whether or not this is an actual IDF doctrine. Perhaps it is just a heavy-handed attempt by a few frustrated Zionists to scare the rest of the world into supporting their policies. But the fact that so many of them are openly discussing it is troubling. And Israel certainly does retain the technical ability to carry out such a strike if it chose.

In 2008, the IDF introduced the Jericho III ICBM into their arsenal, which is known to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Israel has claimed that the missile has a range which makes it possible for them to strike anywhere throughout the Middle East, as well as throughout large portions of Europe and Africa. American intelligence reports, however, have claimed that its actual range may be sufficient to reach Asia, as well as both North and South America, giving them a nuclear capacity on a par with both the U.S. and Russia.

In addition to its missiles, Israel currently fields a fleet of four Dolphin-class missile submarines, which were specially designed for Israel and paid for by Germany. Two more are currently under construction. (The German government has said that this was done as compensation for the assistance given by German firms to the Iraqi chemical weapons program of the 1980s, although I can’t believe there isn’t an element of Holocaust reparations in it as well.) As submarines are undetectable while submerged, this gives Israel a strike capacity anywhere in the world, even assuming that all of its surface missiles were destroyed in a surprise attack.

Therefore, if the Samson Option is a reality, the Israelis are certainly equipped to carry it out.

Rosenbaum, however, is still an American liberal at heart, and he must have realized how crazed his justifications for the Samson Option would come across to his non-Zionist readers. So he returns to an issue he had raised earlier in the book in relation to the Cold War, asking whether the idea of retaliating against an enemy (and bringing about the destruction of the entire population of the enemy, and not just the people responsible for the war), even after deterrence has failed and one’s country already lies in ruins, is morally justifiable. This, after all, is the essential, and yet seldom asked, question of any nation that practices nuclear deterrence. Rosenbaum calls it the “forbidden question.”

To examine the question in the context of Israel, Rosenbaum seeks out Moshe Halbertal, an Israeli professor who teaches ethics and international law at both New York University and Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Halbertal has interesting credentials, being the co-author of the Israel Defense Force’s code of ethics. Rosenbaum poses the question of the morality of Israeli nuclear retaliation to him. In the case of using nuclear weapons against a nation that is preparing to use them against Israel, Halbertal says yes, it’s justified – which is unsurprising.

He does make one odd comment concerning this, which is that if Israel were to attack a country, such as Iran, to preempt a nuclear strike on itself, it would also have to target the nuclear arsenal of Pakistan, in case Pakistan decided to avenge its Muslim brethren. I’m not certain why Halbertal makes this leap of logic, since Pakistan has never stated any intention of coming to the aid of another nation that attacks Israel, and has no apparent interest in doing so. But one thing I took away from this book is that Zionist paranoia knows no bounds.

But their conversation takes an interesting turn when Rosenbaum asks him about deterrence in a situation where Israel has already been destroyed – a dilemma that would be faced by the officers aboard Israeli submarines at sea, after having received word from home that the war has already been lost and that their nation lies in ruins. Should they then fire, knowing that Israel’s fate is already sealed? Halbertal refers to this situation as one of “esoteric morality.” According to him, Israel should make its enemies believe that it would use its weapons in that situation, but that in reality, Israel’s leaders and commanders should know that they would not use them if the scenario actually came to pass. For him, this is the only morally defensible position. This reminded me a bit of George Orwell’s concept of “doublethink,” where one holds two contrary positions to be true at the same time. But I can’t really be too hard on the Israelis in this case, since it’s a moral quandary that all nuclear powers must face.

An interesting postscript to their discussion is when Rosenbaum begins to wonder if he should actually write about their conversation in the book, since he fears that it might implant in the heads of Israel’s enemies the idea that Israel is not really serious about its deterrent. So he contacted Halbertal and asked if he should write about it – and Halbertal, unsurprisingly given that it’s in the book, said yes.

I guess it provides a glimmer of reassurance to realize that at least some Zionists don’t subscribe to the moral justness of the Samson Option, but wartime decisions are not made as a result of deep, philosophical conversations in university offices, but in short periods of time and under intense pressure. And I wouldn’t trust that Israel’s missileers and sub commanders would take the high road, especially if they have training and orders to the contrary.

At any rate, Samson Option or not, Israel has certainly managed to install itself as the linchpin of any nuclear crisis that is likely to transpire for the foreseeable future. However, the problem of new nations joining the “nuclear club,” nations which may or may not exercise as much restraint as the existing nuclear powers have done to date, is something that is not restricted to the Middle East alone. North Korea, after all, managed to slip under the radar of the international watchdogs. As Rosenbaum himself correctly observes, the United States originally began its pursuit of the atomic bomb after it became known, in an effort led by Einstein, that the Third Reich was working on the same thing. The U.S. hoped to be the first one to build one and thus pre-empt the “Nazi bomb.” (Germany, of course, collapsed before either side developed nuclear weapons, so Japan became the site of a demonstration that was aimed as much at the U.S.S.R. as at the Japanese.) That is the awesome power of nuclear weapons: they are so scary that the main reason nations resort to building them is to prevent someone else from using them first.

The problem, however, is how the existing nuclear states can continue to retain a monopoly on nuclear armaments, while insisting that no other nations join their club. The original intention of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, which was first introduced in 1970, was for all nations to ultimately disarm. In practice, however, it has been used as a bludgeon by the primary nuclear powers against the non-nuclear nations, while they themselves show little intention of giving them up. Other nations therefore have little motivation to exercise restraint so long as this double standard persists, and so long as non-nuclear nations are subjected to the whims of the “First World” – Iraq was invaded based on false claims of pursuing WMDs, after all, and the Gaddafi regime in Libya was destroyed in spite of the fact that it had voluntarily surrendered its nuclear program in 2003. This is not a good way to persuade other nations that following the Non-Proliferation Treaty is a wise course.

As for Rosenbaum, it was interesting to see how the cool-headedness he displayed in his treatment of the situation between Russia and the U.S., where he calls for cooperation and understanding, was quickly abandoned when it came to the subject of Israel. But then this is typical of Zionist thinking, in which the rules that the rest of the world are expected to play by are considered to be inapplicable when it comes to the Jewish state.

The Future: The Morality of Nuclear Weapons

I realize that there is a long way to go before the North American New Right, or any of the similar groups throughout the Western world, will have a say in matters of international politics or nuclear policy. However, I think it is important for us to be aware of, and begin thinking about this matter, because nuclear weapons aren’t going anywhere and could return to the political stage with a vengeance in the not-so-distant future. Eventually, if we are successful, they will have to be reckoned with, both as a weapon in the hands of our adversaries (for example, in the event of secession, would the U.S. government just let the rebels go their own way unscathed?) and as something we will have to determine our own attitude towards.

Rosenbaum is certainly right to ask the “forbidden question”: is the actual use of nuclear weapons moral? Personally, I believe that, no matter what system of belief one subscribes to, the answer must be an emphatic no. Nuclear weapons do not distinguish between combatants and non-combatants. Moreover, they have an enormously destructive effect on the environment that is not limited to the target area. Even more crucially, so long as more than one nation possesses them, their use will always entail the risk of provoking an equally devastating response from the other side.

Even beyond such moral questions, however, there is the issue of whether or not nuclear weapons belong in the hands of people who claim to uphold traditional values of any sort (and I do not mean traditional solely in the sense of Traditionalism). Nuclear war is the ultimate expression of the industrial mentality in the form of a weapon – mass-produced death and destruction on an unimaginable scale. They are a weapon for lazy people and cowards, enabling the worst elements of humanity to remain safe at home, knowing that their enemies can be eliminated at the press of a button while they bask in decadence.

As Mark Dyal [4] has reminded us in his recent series of essays on vitalism, the way in which the members of a civilization conduct their lives determines their qualities. The irony of nuclear weapons is that, in being so awful and all-powerful, they end up rendering actual warfare too terrible a thing to practice, leaving nations to resolve their differences through economic policies and treaties – passive activities. Men have no reason to train and steel themselves for battle, instead resorting to videogames and watching sports on TV as an outlet for their natural aggressions. And we can already see the type of society that such a way of life produces. War should be a contest between brave and heroic men, not an impersonalized process in which the combatants never even look their foe in the eye, except perhaps on a screen.

Therefore, I think that the elimination of nuclear weapons should be one of the ultimate goals of the New Right. I realize that this is unlikely to be a practical goal anytime soon, even assuming we attain any actual political power, since our enemies are unlikely to respect our loftiness, but I think it should be placed on our eventual horizon. There is no place for nuclear weapons in a civilization of good and honorable people.

In the meantime, however, we should never forget for a moment that we all live under the sword of Damocles that is The Bomb.


[1] It falls outside the scope of this essay to discuss the accuracy of the conventional narrative about the Holocaust. As far as nuclear politics are concerned, it really only matters that the Zionists and their supporters fervently believe in it.

[2] Greg Johnson, “Dealing with the Holocaust,” at The Occidental Observer (July 20, 2012), available at http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2012/07/dealing-with-the-holocaust/ [3].

[3] David Perlmutter, “Israel: Dark Thoughts and Quiet Desperation,” in The Los Angeles Times (April 7, 2002), available at http://articles.latimes.com/2002/apr/07/opinion/op-perlmutter [5].

[4] Quoted in David Hirst, “The War Game,” in The Guardian (September 20, 2003), available at http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2003/sep/21/israelandthepalestinians.bookextracts [6].