Seminar - on
Strategic Studies and Security
The PASSIA special committee for this seminar consisted of : Dr. Ibrahim Abu Lughod - Head of Department of Political Science at Northwestern University, USA; Vice-President of BirZeit University. Dr. Khalil Shikaki - Professor in the Department of Political Science at An-Najah National University in Nablus; Director of Centre for Palestine Research and Studies - Nablus. Ms. Alison Brown - Seminar Co-ordinator and Rapporteur; PASSIA. Dr. Mahdi Abdul Hadi - President and Founder of PASSIA. PASSIA consulted with British and Palestinian scholars in the field of Strategic Studies and Security on sharing the implementation of the seminar. During December and January, PASSIA prepared reading material for the course. PASSIA advertised the proposed seminar in the local press, Al Quds and Al Fajr English, and through national institutions such as universities and research centres. PASSIA received 40 applications from all over the Occupied Territories.
The Committee invited all applicants to individual interviews at PASSIA between 18th and 20th March 1993. Of the thirty applicants who attended interviews, the Committees selected fifteen to participate in the seminar and three reserves.
The Committee recommended that PASSIA hold another seminar in Arabic. PASSIA will invite the majority of those not selected for the April 1993 course to participate in this seminar.
This seminar took place from the 19th-30th of April and the following accepted the PASSIA invitation to be guest lecturers:
Dr. Rosemary Hollis - Research Fellow and Head of the Regional Security Programme at the Royal United Services Institute for Defence Studies in London. Ms. Valerie Yorke - Middle East Editor at the Economist Intelligence Unit, London. Dr. Ibrahim Abu Lughod - Head of Department of Political Science at Northwestern University, USA; Vice President of BirZeit University. Dr. Khalil Shikaki - Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at An-Najah National University, Nablus. Director of Centre for Palestine Research and Studies.
The British guests and the Palestinian academics ran the seminars as a team, with the exception of Professor Trevor Taylor - Head of the International Security Programme of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, London, who unfortunately declined to attend the seminar at the last minute. The intensive programme of lectures and workshops was held over a two week period from the 19th to 30th of April.
II. Introductory addresses
Dr. Mahdi Abdul Hadi addressed current political developments saying that since Madrid two documents have been produced, the Israeli plan entitled "Autonomy" and the Palestinian "PISGA" (Palestinian Interim Self-Government Authority). Added to this are the multilateral talks on the issues of the economy, water, environment, disarmament and security, and human rights. Another factor is in the domestic arena and the importance of going beyond the settling of internal disputes and preparing for exercising national authority on the ground. He noted that much of the structure and consensus needed for this kind of movement was already in place with a clear mandate from the leadership in Tunis, higher councils established on a professional basis and covering fields such as education, housing, industry, planning, and in the future, health and other issues. He stressed the need for a national system and a central authority to govern the society. He went on to talk about the question of borders and after a brief historical overview noted that when considering the question of borders in the transitional phase there had been semi-internationally recognised boundaries since the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916 and priority should be given to determining exactly which territory is being discussed before setting a political arrangement and not vice versa.
Dr. Abu Lughod addressed security issues such as the protection of national interest and said that Palestinians prefer to give attention to how security can be achieved through the rule of law and equality among nations rather than the balance of power and the threat of war. He defined the state in terms of national identity, territory and representation by national consensus. He considered the final factor to be sovereignty over land and concluded that it was only this factor that the Palestinians did not yet have. An important aspect is the attention to political and national rights and the central problem is how the Palestinians are to protect themselves as a people and a state. He noted that in 1974 Arafat re-opened the Palestinian question and the vision of a democratic secular state with a strategy of clarity about political goals, attention to individual rights, national liberation consistent with international legitimacy and organising people, especially in the Diaspora, to revive national identity. Israel lost its moral authority during the intifada by fighting unarmed women and children while the political goal of a state in the West Bank and Gaza for all the Palestinian people was pursued by political means. Professor Lughod added that states come into being in two ways, by the use of force or by agreement and while Israel can perpetuate occupation by military means, it cannot impose its will to bring surrender. There must therefore be a mutual political solution.
III. Sovereignty, self determination, power, national security & use of force
The lecture began with an attempt to define power, politics and the results of a power relationship when one group can dictate the actions of others through a variety of means. It went on to talk about the system of nation states and to define security and the separate security needs of all parties when all are strategically interdependent without one state having control over its own fate. The question of anarchy was raised and the effects of an absence of a central authority and how this affects the role of force in international politics.
The lecture then focussed on nationalism with a brief historical review of the foundations of nationalism and its possible components of religion, land, language, race etc. This was linked to the ideas of various philosophers and theoreticians and developed with historical examples of revolution. The final part of the lecture focussed on the expansion of force in the international system going through its rationalisation, popularisation, professionalisation and finally the role of technology in adding to its capabilities and the ways in which perception of force has changed, especially in the nuclear age.
IV. Nuclear deterrence and the balance of power.
The lecture initially covered the concept of deterrence and defence, the traditional objectives of military power and the extent to which force can accomplish these objectives. A brief review of the means by which force affects behaviour was given, citing historical examples of threats of retaliation, punishment and denial and cost and benefit calculation between the positions of deterrence and defence. When applied to specific targets, deterrence and the threat of retaliation is directed at the population and industry whereas defence is directed at enemy military capabilities. Missiles were considered and nuclear weapons in particular, as a means to restructure concepts regarding use of force in international politics but it was questioned whether this automatically produced deterrence. Deterrence theory, it was noted, was deductive and paid little attention to policy goals or underlying motives and sought basically to maintain the status quo. However, in a pure model of deterrence, mutually assured destruction was necessary and sufficient for deterrence of total and limited wars.
V. Foreign and defence policy, military strategy and military doctrine.
This lecture began with an introduction of the "Western Tradition" in thinking about strategy and security and a theoretical outline of three alternative models which interpreted international political economy in different ways. These were a) The Liberal Model, which separates politics and economics and sees progress as linear, gradual and continuous; b) The Nationalist/Mercantilist Model, which subordinates economic activities to the goal of state building; and c) The Marxist Model, which has a dialectical approach to reality and actually combines elements of a) and b). The lecture continued by defining the realist and neo realist approaches to international relations saying that the neo-realists have refined the original realist model by introducing the notion that actors have perceptions and perspectives that are subjective and not universal, therefore refuting the idea that states/actors behave rationally, in some objective and immutable sense. As far as policy making was concerned it was remarked that, in general, Western analysts still describe the policies and objectives of states as though they are coherent single units. In fact, it is now well-understood that policies are the aggregation of actions and motives of a number of players and factors operating within and between states.
The next part of the lecture focussed on decision-making theory which was illustrated by three models. The Rational Policy Model, which sees the state or government as a unitary rational actor, the Organisational Process Model which sees action not as a rational choice but as the output of large organisations functioning according to standard patterns of behaviour, and the Bureaucratic Politics Paradigm which sees policy as the outcome of political bargaining between those in the government hierarchy. Hence, decisions are made as a result of individual actions and not the rational decisions of states as the West likes to portray. The lecture concluded with Military Strategy and Doctrine, charting a brief history of the nature of warfare and concluding that as the 21st century approaches the power of so-called conventional technology for fighting non-nuclear or conventional wars, has become so destructive as to render even this type of conflict counter-productive or irrational, unless the amount of force used is limited.
VI. Disarmament, arms control and confidence-building measures.
In this lecture, several graphs were distributed to illustrate the Evolution of the International Arms Market and Controls, Regional Shares of the World Arms Import Market, 1979 and 1989, Middle East Arms Import Market, 1989 and World Arms Export Shares, 1989. Dr. Hollis went on to talk about factors underlying the changes over the past 2-3 decades which have included more importers, exporters and producers and a levelling-off of the growth in arms trade in the mid/late 1980s due to economic and political developments. The stages of the development of the international arms trade were outlined, beginning with the inter-war period of 1930-40 continuing with the post World War II period of 1946-66 and oil boom years of 1966-80 and concluding with the end of the Cold War, 1992.
Important characteristics of the contemporary arms trade were noted such as the internationalisation of industrial, and hence arms, production, the blurring of lines between civilian and military technology, the re-emergence of illegal traders/traffic, contraction of government involvement in industry in the developed world, availability of surplus arms from the Cold War and the problems of tracking, let alone controlling, arms/technology transfers.
On arms control and disarmament in the Middle East specifically, three levels of impact/implications were idntified: the level of domestic politics and economy of each state and the role of the military in the respective societies and economies; the possibilities of military confrontation between states and the likelihood of war being fuelled by the arms race were considered; and finally the international setting, which gives countries supplying arms a stake in the region and cements their relations with some governments, while endangering their relations with others.
The problem of defining arms control and its enforcement was raised and the lecture continued to illustrate and evaluate the pros and cons of approaches such as arms supplier constraint and arms consumer constraint.
VII. Nuclear proliferation: conceptual and technical discussion in a Middle Eastern context.
This lecture began by remarking on the inevitability of the spread of technology needed for the making of nuclear weapons and delivery systems and then turned specifically to the Israeli nuclear monopoly and the effects this could have on the strategic environment, if, for example, the Israelis became more dovish or hawkish, or as an incentive for Arab possession of an "equaliser".
In the second part of the lecture the requirements for "effective" mutual nuclear deterrence or "mutually assured destruction" (MAD) and the means to acquire nuclear weapons and delivery systems were raised. The unknown nature of Israel's nuclear capabilities about which there had been contradictory reports, were noted. There followed a review of past Arab attempts to obtain the nuclear capability and mentioned current Egyptian plans and the position of Iraq from pre-Gulf War of 1991 until the present and the uncertainties surrounding the stage the Iraqis reached, how much of their capabilities were destroyed and if the Iraqis could rebuild their nuclear capabilities. A discussion of the problems that may arise and prevent the Arabs from acquiring nuclear capabilities such as Western intervention arose and resulted in a review of Arab and Israeli delivery systems and decisions on the nature of attack, referring to their incumbent air force and missile capabilities.
The requirements for a "stable" mutual nuclear deterrence and the ability of the two sides to absorb a nuclear first strike and then be able to retaliate, and the issue of the invulnerability of the nuclear forces was the next topic addressed. This was followed by a outline of the requirements for "credible" mutual nuclear deterrence, the ability to formulate a nuclear threat, communicate it to an opponent who believes in the seriousness of the threat and the extent of the opponents fear.
In conclusion, a discussion was initiated about Arab and Israeli views regarding nuclear deterrence and other strategies.
VIII. Strategic studies and crisis management: Past and Future.
In this lecture three videos were shown, the first on the Cuban Missile Crisis. Following this there was a discussion which raised the issues of Realism and Crisis Management and the importance of the study of this. It was noted that political realism forms the philosophical backdrop for contemporary strategic thought but since there is no supranational body to maintain order between states, the international arena is inherently conflictual and characterised by anarchy. The traditional Western-centric strategic studies approach is concerned with promoting peace and security, thus deterrence is the theory that peace and security can be promoted by threatening enemies with unacceptable retaliatory damage. Crisis management is the theory that security can be promoted by developing techniques for handling international crises and in the age of weapons of mass destruction, management of crises between major powers is as important as the study of use of military force. The policy maker's task/dilemma is crisis management in the nuclear age and the major problem how to manage affairs skillfully enough to avoid the more terrible weapons and still uphold essential interests. The aims are to "coerce prudently" and to "accommodate cheaply". The second video shown was "Avoiding Armageddon" following which the participants were asked to try and identify elements of risk and danger in crisis management such as misperceptions and dangers arising from defects in decision-making processes. It was pointed out that superpower behaviour in the Cuban Missile Crisis suggests that there may be preconditions for successful crisis management but there is no reason to believe such superpower behaviour will be replicated in a more complex international environment. This complexity was discussed following the showing of the third video "Europe on the Brink".
IX. Strategy and game theory.
This lecture began by addressing the definition of strategy, how one mobilises resources to achieve goals and how strategy can mean different things to an individual, an organisation or a state. Strategy presumes goals and objectives and is related to values, general and specific environment and is susceptible to evaluation. The process of building strategies, policies and plans begins with goal formulation which considers values and environment and is usually set by leaders with vision, conceptual skills, and long term perspectives. Formulation considers internal strength and weaknesses, environment and is usually developed by strategists who are able to relate resources to goals, build teams and mediate conflict. Implementation of strategy is seen in policy formulation, institution building, plans that specify actual steps to be undertaken and the execution of these plans. The implementation phase requires knowledge of techniques and methods, processing of information, and analytical ability.
There followed a discussion of game theory which was defined as a study of rational decision-making based on predicting the behaviour of others and used when there is no independently "best" choice. Game theory illustrates the uses of rationality and irrationality in bargaining, the role of stakes and interests and the balance between stakes and risks.
X. Strategy and system analysis (writing options papers)
This lecture talked about the role of system analysis in formation of strategy and defined it as a systemic examination of options and alternatives which seeks to find the best course of action by examining costs, effectiveness and risks of alternative strategies. Components include defining the problem to be resolved and objectives to be accomplished. Examples given were the possibilities of security for the Palestinians.
1. What functions
A detailed outline of the format for writing options papers was then given with the purpose of the paper being to provide your decision maker with a balanced presentation in the form of several options, at least three, but no more than five.
XI. Strategic studies and the regional system: introduction and themes
The popular impression of strategy includes the mobilisation of resources to achieve goals, i.e. about means not ends, and the planning and fighting of wars. However, it is also about the ways is which military power may be used to achieve political objectives and the purposeful use of military power in peace-time. With the development of nuclear weapons, strategic doctrine's task was to find ways to avoid war and to find less catastrophic alternatives than nuclear war. As preserving military stability became vital, strategic studies became a form of "nuclear accountancy".
There needs to be a broader definition of Strategic Studies to take account of the post Cold War environment and the full range of threats to basic interests/values of Third World states and societies.
XII. The place of the Middle East in the international system.
This lecture discussed domestic, inter-state/intra-regional and international/global affairs.
At the domestic level there was a range of factors affecting stability/security including population growth, unemployment, scarcity/access to resources, civil-military relations and law enforcement, defence budgeting, political representation and inter-ethnic and secular-religious divides.
At the level of inter-state relations conflicts derive from antagonisms between rich and poor, effects of labour migrations, vulnerability of trade routes and financial links, competition for water resources, border disputes, cross-border ethnic, family and religious ties and ideological/religious divisions.
At the level of international relations, between regional and external powers, external powers are preoccupied with protection of their interests, access to oil and communication routes, defence sales and training agreements, political alliances and a possible spill-over to Europe of instability in Middle East.
There followed a historical overview of the Middle East through the Cold War, to the present and a detailed history of regimes in the region, their links and interests internationally and their strategic importance.
XIII. Regional system: local actors and the Palestinians.
This lecture was concerned with the strategic analyst and the Arab system of order. The analyst is concerned with the social, political, and economic forces which may permit or constrain, inspire or compel the use of military force and how the use of force or the decision to desist from its application affects regional security. The analyst must therefore look at regional systems of order and assess the interplay between domestic and regional settings and the resulting consequences for regional security. The idea of a single Arab nation is often rejected in the West as the creation of ideology, while Arabs talk of its "decline", its end, its ebbing potency. But elements of an order exist. In the early 1970s inter-state relations were characterised by the diffusion of power and greater flexibility in policy as pragmatic relations developed between states. Egypt dropped hegemonical ambitions and Syria and Saudi Arabia established spheres of influence. A loose moderate coalition developed headed by Saudi Arabia and Egypt. But failure of the coalition to press Israel into a peace settlement undermined its influence. Post 1979 the Arab consensus was challenged by a multiplicity of regional and domestic issues. At the regional level, the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty, which represented the culmination of Sadat's withdrawal of Egypt from the Arab-Israel conflict, upset the regional balance and required responses by governments to cope with sense of insecurity. The penetration of the Arab region by two non-Arab powers, Israel and Iran, split the Arabs over priorities and produced shifting alignments. Compounding inter Arab relations was the economic recession which eroded working relations between rich and poor states of Islamic and Arab worlds and made the gap between rich and poor a serious source of popular discontent.
At the domestic level the economic recession (reduced levels of aid, remittances, export revenues) put pressure on Arab regimes and their ability to maintain extensive public sectors/instruments of co-option. Popular disillusion spread on account of the failure of Arab governments to deliver peace with Israel or satisfy economic demands. The impact of the economic crisis eroded "the political compact" on which Arab rulers had based their rule - whereby population refrains from demands for political participation in return for material benefits. The contradiction between the centralisation of power and the popular demand for democratisation was revealed as were the unstable foundations on which rulers had built their states.
The combination of these regional and domestic factors resulted in the weakening of Arab governments and the diversion of attention from the unifying themes of the Palestine problem and the Arab-Israeli conflict, growing domestic criticism of the nature of ruling elites and the economic and political structures on which they based their powers and the formulation of foreign policy according to perceptions of ruling elites on how to protect regimes and states.
XIV. Decision-making and defining national security: local actors.
The concept of national security is linked to the emergence of the modern European nation-state system. Security studies have limited focus to externally generated military or power threats to certain core interests of the state. However, the National Security concept raises questions when applied to the Arab world and the Third World generally. By the late 1980s Arab security concerns appeared to shift from military and power issues to economic and internal security concerns but the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and subsequent coalition response pushed military and power issues back to the forefront.
XV. Simulation exercise
The game is intended to operationalise the strategic concept of crisis prevention i.e. how to prevent a deteriorating situation from becoming worse. It is structured so that the participants learn and experience something about how decision makers have to operate under pressure. The intention is that the participants should get a feel of the difficulty of assessing policy options and organising priorities to protect the security interests of the state when rulers are subject to the pull of public opinion and the preferences of constituencies at home and when their capacity to implement change at home may be circumscribed by regional and transnational forces or by requirements of international law etc. This should also create awareness of the difficulties of the above under pre-crisis conditions and of engaging in preventive diplomacy, and of the difficulties relating to decision making under pressure of time in the absence of full details but with the media ever-present. The difficulties of the Middle East where some rulers are unashamedly pursuing interests related to regime survival whilst invoking the security of the state and abandoning even a semblance of inter Arab solidarity should be noted as should the need to weigh up the influence and future role of states peripheral to the region and the importance of maintaining economic and political links with them as well as with international actors (USA, EC, IMF, etc.).
XVI. Defining national security: the Gulf
This lecture began by a listing of the key players in the Gulf and their vulnerabilities and went on to identify regional and external powers. Optional configurations for regional balance were suggested and included collective security pact linking of the Gulf states.
Contending theories of Gulf (and national) security were noted. Tehran seeks freedom from fear of encirclement or isolation for Iran and a measure of regional predominance. The concern of Baghdad is Iraq's short term survival and, thereafter its re-emergence as `the cornerstone of Gulf security' and leading defender of the Arab nationalist cause. The priority in Riyadh was seen as the elimination of external threats to Saudi Arabia (and the GCC), thereby eliminating the need for elaborate security arrangements, freeing the Kingdom to pursue its own affairs at its own pace and in its own way. The overriding concern of Kuwait, which would like a favourable position in OPEC is for its own survival. Washington, meanwhile seeks continued access to the Gulf, its oil and markets with the least possible hazard or costly engagements for Washington.
The problem is that the national aspirations and security interests of each of the players are incompatible and will remain so unless and until those players develop greater mutual trust and there is a tendency of all regional governments to define national and regional security in terms of their own survival/enhancement. Furthermore, the tendency to attribute regional insecurity to the nature of other regimes reveals interplay between domestic, regional and international relations.
XVII. Arab and Israeli military doctrines and strategies
This lecture began with strategic balance assessments considering factors such as geography, terrain, airspace, distribution of targets, population, installations, and manoeuvrability. There followed a number of comparisons between Egypt, Jordan, Israel and Syria as well as Israel pre- and post-1967, post-1980 (Sinai) and post-1983 (Lebanon). Saudi Arabia and Kuwait were also compared, vis a vis Iraq. There followed a discussion on military expertise, resources and strategic knowledge and the key principles leading to Israeli and Arab military doctrines. Conclusions drawn were that Jordan had opted for a totally defensive strategy, Egypt for a politico-diplomatic rather than military strategy, Syria for strategic parity, and Israel is for maintenance of its technological edge. As witnessed in the Gulf War, new technologies have transformed the battlefield and it is no longer meaningful to speak of individual weapons which have become part of integrated platforms that include sensors, remote target designation, computers, countermeasures [jamming, decoys], and the like. As a result, effectiveness has become dependent on a wide array of supporting devices that have no independent destructive capabilities. The Israelis are currently ahead in these areas and to catch up the Arabs must make changes across the board, in the civilian economy, education system and so on, as well as in the military. Even then, they will be obliged to buy off the shelf (if they can find suitable suppliers) unless and until they can develop national expertise in these areas.
Arabs have been seeking to counter Israeli nuclear capability with chemical weapons and missiles while some countries are seeking their own nuclear capabilities.
There followed a discussion of the application of deterrence (strategic theory) arguments to the Middle East and the relationship between non-conventional and conventional weapons, especially in the light of new technologies.