MAD about the Middle East

Mohamed ElBaradei, the UN's chief nuclear inspector, is now in Israel trying to convince the Israelis to come clean about their nuclear program. Additionally, he also wants a nuclear-free Middle East, and is using this visit to push this second part of his agenda as well. While widely believed to have nuclear weapons, Israel maintains an official silence on the issue, refusing to answer either way.

Despite Iran's stalling over its nuclear program and the avowed intentions of many factions in the regions to annihilate Israel, as well as the previous wars in the region, "Dr ElBaradei has questioned the assumption that nuclear weapons have made Israel more secure."

It seems obvious to me, at least, that the only better guarantee of Israel's safety than mutually-assured destruction is that it has nuclear weapons and its enemies don't.

On a smaller scale, one of the arguments supporting gun rights is that there will be guns out there, and the choice is between allowing responsible citizens to have them and forbidding them to, given that in either situation criminals will have them. Clearly, it is desirable for non-criminals to have access to them. Now a thought experiment: let's suppose it's possible for the gun fairy to make all the guns in the area in question disappear. Would this be more desirable than the gun-proliferation option? I would say no. Without guns, the 250 lb., 6'6" criminal knows that there will be very little resistance when he breaks in with a bat. At best, the tenant has another bat, and the criminal's odds are pretty good. He's much more likely to come out of that situation healthy than he is to come out of the parallel situation in which both sides have guns. Thus, even in this case we should want the gun fairy to take no action.

Likewise, it's not immediately clear that banning all nuclear weapons will make the Middle East safer. There are around 5 million Israeli Jews, surrounded by many millions of Arabs. (I realize that not all Arabs are committed to the eradication of Israel, but it only takes a handful of generals to mobilize their countries' militaries.) I suspect that a nuclear-free Middle East would look a lot like the gun-free home invasion in our thought experiment.

The best response here is that the suicide bombers so popular in the region aren't concerned about mutually-assured destruction, and I agree that there are enough fanatics in the region to cause some serious damage beyond what our basically rationalistic approach would indicate. However, since the cause is not only the destruction of Israel but the settling of that land by Palestinian Arabs, it's unlikely that the fanatical elements would start a nuclear match that would destroy not only the Jews but everyone else in the region too.

While I'm sure some elements in the Israeli military have considered it, I don't think Israel will ever aggressively use its nuclear weapons. ElBaradei is barking up the wrong tree.

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As the saying goes, "God

As the saying goes, "God made men. Samuel Colt made men equal."

I agree that Israeli nukes

I agree that Israeli nukes are not particularly threatening, but I'm not sure they're so important to security as you claim. The raw difference in population, which would seem to give the Arabs an advantage in a conventional war with Israel, is way more than overbalanced by the technological and tactical superiority of the IDF. So an "anti-nuke fairy" would actually still leave Israel in a dominant position.