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March 9, 2022 12:00 pm

Russia’s Invasion Is a Wake-Up Call for Israel and the West

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avatar by Yoram Ettinger


Destroyed Russian tanks are seen, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in the Sumy region, Ukraine, March 7, 2022. Irina Rybakova/Press service of the Ukrainian Ground Forces/Handout via REUTERS

Irrespective of the final outcome of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, it should serve as a wake-up call for Israeli and Western policymakers and molders of public opinion.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has exposed the flawed nature of certain assumptions, such as the worldview of a new world (and new Middle East) order, which is supposedly more stable, predictable, tolerant, and trending toward peaceful-coexistence; the ostensible end to the era of major wars and massive ground force invasions; and the self-destructive notion that a military posture of deterrence can be effectively-replaced by peace accords, security guarantees, and generous financial and diplomatic packages.

The war also highlights the tenuous, unreliable, unpredictable, and non-committal nature of security guarantees, and the delusion that peace and security agreements are more important than military capabilities and a geography/topography-driven posture of deterrence.

The war highlights that a gradual reduction of defense budgets is interpreted by most of the globe as an erosion of deterrence in a stormy world. It also exposes the presumed superiority of the diplomatic option as a more effective negotiation tool than the military option in settling conflicts with rogue regimes, which have systematically revealed themselves as bad-faith negotiators (e.g., Iran’s ayatollahs since assuming power in 1979).

It additionally exposes the speculative assessments of the future track records of rogue regimes over their realistic historical track records, and the illusion that rogue conduct (e.g., subversion, terrorism, and wars) is despair-driven, rather than ideology-driven.

Western policymakers have attempted to induce/coerce Israel into a withdrawal from the topographically dominant mountain ridges of Judea and Samaria — in return for a peace accord and security guarantees. However, the Russian invasion of Ukraine has highlighted the false sense of security that is generated by security guarantees. The global experience has reaffirmed the centrality of the military-driven posture of deterrence in the shaping of national security.

Moreover, unlike Ukraine, Israel’s lack of geographic depth provides for an extremely small margin of error. Thus, if the 1973 surprise Arab military offensive were launched against a pre-1967 Israel, the result might be the end of the Jewish state. Israeli leaders must take note of this in all future policy planning decisions.

The author is a former Israeli ambassador and commentator.

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