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Israel’s Begin Doctrine Essay

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Updated: Jul 18th, 2021


The United Nations advocates for the concept of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons as the best strategy for enhancing security. Incidentally, most of the developed countries are busy trying to modernize their arsenals as part of their security planning and foreign policies. Such aims create a complex situation for the international society and continue to threaten human existence. This paper describes Israel’s Begin Doctrine and explains why it is not easy for the Middle East to have a nuclear weapon free zone (NWFZ). The discussion goes further to explain why the possession of such resources continues to deter large-scale wars. The insights gained from the paper show that countries without such weapons are still at risk of attack from those that possess them. A new model for discouraging governments from developing these arms can promote peace and protect the lives of the greatest number of people.

Begin Doctrine

Many countries today have unique foreign policies that are informed by the concept of realism. For instance, the Israeli government has a powerful model commonly known as the Begin Doctrine that is an integral part of its security planning. Freilich defines it as a guiding principle that instructs Israel to destroy states that develop or have weapons of mass destruction (WMD) that might be used against the Israelis (18). Under this policy, the government is always ready to defend its citizens with all its military, economic, and financial resources. The main target in accordance with this model is that of nuclear weapons since they have the potential to claim lives.

There are several examples of this policy or doctrine in action. The outstanding one is that of 1981 when Israel successfully attacked Iraq’s nuclear reactors and plants in Osirak in a mission called Operation Opera (Liebner and Press 31). The Israeli prime minister praised such a move and justified it since presented the best defense against any form of threat from its enemies. According to him, such an operation had also been ongoing for several years and it had consumed numerous national resources. After the attack, the government stated that its foreign policy would continue to remain essential for every future Israeli leader.

The leaders of this country pursue it in such a way that it protects and defends the people of Israel against any kind of racism or anti-Semitism. This happens to be the case since the Holocaust resulted in the deaths of millions of Jews from the late 1930s. The outstanding message is that Israel will always act in a similar manner when its enemies decide to develop nuclear arsenals and other weapons that can be utilized to kill the citizens of Israel (Hamel-Green 449). However, different foreign governments and the United Nations (UN) were opposed to the 1981 attacks. Such actions could encourage leaders to attack other countries, thereby exposing the world to a potential threat of insecurity (Liebner and Press 37). From this analysis, it is evident that Israel is not going to stop relent in its effort to protect and fight for all Jews in different parts of the world and ensure that they lead a free life. This happens to be the case despite the fact that many countries and different members of the UN have always been opposed to the validity and applicability of this foreign doctrine or policy.

NWFZ in the Middle East

Is the creation of a nuclear weapon free zone (NWFZ) in the Middle East ever possible? No. Although the countries forming the Middle East support the establishment of the NWFZ, chances of achieving this goal remain grim due to a number of reasons. Firstly, some governments in the region have identified this idea as a strategy implemented by the Israeli government to prevent them from pursuing nuclear capabilities or arms. This means that most of the countries in the Middle East remain reluctant or unwilling to be part of this idea (Debs and Monteiro 29). Secondly, the Middle East is characterized by diverse groups and terrorists that have continued to promote unrest and conflict, such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Al-Qaeda (Debs and Monteiro 29). Many experts acknowledge that it might take time to institute the anticipated NWFZ in this troubled region.

Thirdly, different countries in this region have been pursuing their nuclear weapons abilities in secret. For example, the Iranian government has continuously claimed that its present program mainly focuses on the best ways to address the increasing demand for energy (Debs and Monteiro 35). Fourthly, several countries have remained noncompliant with the established guidelines under the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Some of these nations in the region include Syria, Iraq, and Iran. For the NWFZ goal to become a reality, the involvement and support of all governments in the Middle East is something critical (Leavitt 98). Leaders in every country should, therefore, be involved and motivated to support this NWFZ idea and be on the right path towards protecting lives and achieving their respective economic objectives.

Fifthly, Israel is a major threat in the Middle East since it has failed to sign the existing Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The current situation is that this country has been keen to implement its Begin Doctrine to prevent other governments from developing nuclear weapons in the region (Hiim 84). This remains the case while many security experts believe that it has an active nuclear arsenal (Leavitt 103). These issues or situations reveal that the Middle East might be unable to achieve its NWFZ objectives in the near future. All countries should be committed to this aspiration and embrace the concepts of openness and transparency than ever before. This initiative will promote compliance and encourage all member states to focus on the same agenda that has the potential to meet the demands of all citizens.

Nuclear Weapons and Conventional War

Does having nuclear weapons prevent conventional war or international interventions? Yes. After the end of the Second World War, very few conflicts involving countries with nuclear capabilities have been recorded. Haass indicates that most of the upheavals between developed nations have failed to reach the level of international conflict (42). For example, the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union never fruited to a physical conflict since these two enemies had nuclear weapons and capabilities. This happened to be the case despite the fact that these two nations possessed advanced weapons and equipment capable of supporting and sustaining a large-scale war (Leavitt 109). This outcome is in accordance with the nuclear revolution theory that asserts that the frequency of upheavals between governments with such supplies will always remain minimal.

Past historical experiences continue to determine or dictate the way many nations approach the utilization of WMD during war. This fact explains why some politicians and analysts acknowledge that the lessons gained after the events at Nagasaki and Hiroshima caution leaders and discourage them from relying on the use of such WMD (Sechser and Fuhrmann 39). The use of such weapons during the Second World War resulted in millions of deaths and affected the experiences and health outcomes of majority of the survivors. This means that countries with powerful nuclear arsenal will always remain pessimistic regarding the potential effects associated with them.

Similarly, many states with nuclear weapons formulate appropriate initiatives to resolve their disagreements whenever they emerge. A good example is the Cuban Missile crisis that took place a few years after the end of the Second World War (Debs and Monteiro 41). The US and the Soviet Union were aware of the potential aftermath of physical conflict and its impacts on the global population. This kind of knowledge persuades them to resolve their differences without the need for international involvement (Sechser and Fuhrmann 39). The case of India and Pakistan remains the only example of a conflict that reached the level of physical upheaval between states with potential nuclear powers. Despite the promising nature of these findings and observations, there is a need for all developed nations to consider superior measures for minimizing or preventing conflicts instead of increasing their WMD (Sechser and Fuhrmann 44). This move will ensure that more people in every part of the world are able to pursue their goals in life without fear since it will have become a safe place for them.

NPT Members

Would parties to the NPT without nuclear weapons capabilities be less likely to become a target of a nuclear attack? No. The signing of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was a move aimed at promoting new measures that would make it possible for many countries in different parts of the world to minimize their nuclear weapons and focus on the concept of peace. Unfortunately, several governments continue to allocate huge financial resources to support the modernization of their arsenals (Sechser and Fuhrmann 76). This is something that is in accordance with their respective defense planning programs or foreign policies. According to the leaders of such states, the possession of nuclear weapons is a critical element of worldwide and national security Sechser and Fuhrmann 92). This idea has continued to become an essential aspect of their respective foreign policies and missions.

The notion that countries that are parties to the NPT but lack such weapons will have reduced chances of becoming targets of nuclear attacks or invasions is erroneous. This is the case since governments with WMD acknowledge that such arms can be utilized to protect their resources, critical infrastructures, and citizens (Sechser and Fuhrmann 43). Many countries will, therefore, be ready to utilize their weapons against any form of threat or attack. Sechser and Fuhrmann reveal that foreign disagreements will always occur between nations with nuclear weapons and those without them (78). This fact reveals that governments that do not have WMD will be venerable when tensions emerge.

During times of conflict, chances of using such arsenals remain high as one of the best approaches for securing immediate victory. The best example is that of the atomic bombs released on Japanese soil towards the end of the infamous Second World War (Cohen 49). The detonation of such weapons led to unprecedented deaths and destructions that many scholars and experts continue to analyze as case studies. This fact or reality should become a learning point for countries that fail to develop nuclear weapons with the hope that they will become unlikely targets of such attacks. The outstanding lesson is that all countries should avoid the development of such WMD in an attempt to promote harmony and protect the lives of all citizens (Sechser and Fuhrmann 79). This argument explains why it would be appropriate for all nations to sign the NPT treaty and support it with their resources. Such a move will address the major predicaments many states and citizens continue to face in different parts of the world today.


The pursuit of foreign policy is an agenda that has continued to influence relations and the advancement of military capabilities. The above discussion questions have addressed the issue of nuclear weapons and why they remain controversial in different parts of the world. The outstanding observation is that the possession of such WMD is something that threatens tranquility. Such weapons also make it impossible for underdeveloped countries in every part of the world to sustain any form of conflict. The Middle East is a region that might not realize the goal of developing a NWFZ due to the existing complexities and diverse aims. Additionally, governments that lack such weapons are as prone to attacks as those who possess them. These issues should become powerful lessons or insights for the international community if it is to overcome the challenges and threats WMD present.

Works Cited

Cohen, Michael D. When Proliferation Causes Peace: The Psychology of Nuclear Crises. Georgetown University Press, 2017.

Debs, Alexandre, and Nuno P. Monteiro. Nuclear Politics: The Strategic Causes of Proliferation. Cambridge University Press, 2017.

Freilich, Charles D. Israeli National Security: A New Strategy for an Era of Change. Oxford University Press, 2018.

Haass, Richard. A World in Disarray: American Foreign Policy and the Crisis of the Old Order. Penguin Publishing Group, 2017.

Hamel-Green, Michael. “The Nuclear Ban Treaty and 2018 Disarmament Forums: An Initial Impact Assessment.” Journal for Peace and Nuclear Disarmament, vol. 1, no. 2, 2018, pp. 436-463.

Hiim, Henrik S. China and International Nuclear Weapons Proliferation: Strategic Assistance. Taylor & Francis, 2018.

Leavitt, Neal. The Foreign Policy of John Rawls and Amartya Sen. Lexington Books, 2015.

Liebner, Keir A., and Daryl G. Press. “The New Era of Counterforce: Technological Change and the Future of Nuclear Deterrence.” International Security, vol. 41, no. 4, 2017, pp. 9-49.

Sechser, Todd S., and Matthew Fuhrmann. Nuclear Weapons and Coercive Diplomacy. Cambridge University Press, 2017.

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