Reacting to the Cutoff

Israelis woke up this morning to a cutoff in arms. Basically the country is being forced to give in to a genocidal terrorist organization after that terrorist organization was given every advantage by the US administration (including accepting Egypt’s refusal to accept refugees, which would have cleared the field for purer military operations).

How should Israel, or others, respond?

One: Backup Plans

Every American ally should be looking for backup plans. Nobody will regard the United States as anything other than a transactional ally. The US can always find a reason to cut you off – whether it be Ukrainian corruption, Taiwanese hopelessness or Japanese WWII-era war crimes.

International regard for the US, and trust in its alliances, must plummet.

Every country in Asia and Central Europe will bend towards China and Russia.

Could you imagine doing anything else?

As a very fresh example, it seems that a grand total of 10 Western or Western-leaning countries sent representatives to Putin’s inauguration. Hungary was kind of obvious. Others had more focused purposes in mind. Greece and Cyprus were almost certainly hedging their bets visa vi Turkey. Some were playing classical realpolitik, like France. Then there is South Korea, Israel and Singapore. All are relatively small and weak countries that need to hedge their bets, as a matter of national survival. It is truly a pity that the great Pax Americana is seeing itself being weakened by such self-inflicted wounds.

It isn’t publicly discussed, but Taiwan has the ability to kill tens of millions of Chinese citizens at the outbreak of war while devastating Chinese industrial capacity. The chance of them using that poison pill just rose enormously.

Two: Domestic Arms

Every American ally needs to up its manufacture of domestic arms. Japan has been publicly working on this for a while. India – never quite an ally, but a counterweight to China nonetheless – is stepping up its efforts. South Korea already manufacturers platforms for the US. Domestic capacity is going to be absolutely critical to smaller countries that had previously relied on the US.

In Israel’s case, the capacity is needed now. Israel’s existing plants and procurement systems are obviously already working all out. Stepping it up a level is a two-step process:

  1. Abandon smart munitions. Their supply chains are simply too complex. Even the US and EU combined can’t supply enough of them to Ukraine. Unfortunately, and with all the suffering this entails, the era of the stupid bomb has returned. These can be manufactured in quantity by countries like Israel with a modicum of quality control processes in place (disclosure: quality is what I do).
  2. Continue to embrace smart platforms. Israel and other small countries can’t produce the simple bulk of  munitions you see coming out of a country like Russia. They have to economize. Smart platforms are how you do this – you get more per stupid shell. On the lowest level, Israel’s  Smart Shooter AI-enabled optics sights are very smart indeed. They are not consumable – they can last for years. Nonetheless, they make the use of bullets far more discriminating and thus economical. This sort of approach could be extended to artillery systems, with the live integration of data from aerial and other platforms. The new Merkava Tank has a ‘see-through’ helmet system that steps its effectiveness way up – without requiring anything new in the way of munitions. 

Israel could specialize in designing smart platforms (and building some) while forming alliances with countries like Argentina, India, Kenya, Azerbaijan and even Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Morocco to actually source some manufactured platforms, a whole lot of stupid munitions and whatever raw materials are needed afterwards. This is already the path pursued by Ukraine: Indian’s 155mm shells have begun to show up there (not to mention countless Chinese drones). 

Three: Fight the Ideological War

The US is unable to speak ideologically. They can’t fight an ideological conflict except in the most blundering of ways. Instead, Israel must launch an ideological assault on Hamas. Not through public relations or a Twitter campaign, but via the North Gaza Project. It is time to stand up for civilization – the development of highly complex ideas, social structures, relationships, processes and political realities that enable their individual members to live lives of productivity and meaning. It is civilization that can best resist the emotional, crowd-driven and viral simplicity of barbarism.

I don’t know that Israeli politicians have the foresight to realize the importance of this effort. I know they have good reason – after very longstanding oppression by Islamic rulers – to doubt that it is possible. Nonetheless the cookbook exists and it has been done before – even in an Islamic country. There is hope for a better future if we can aim for it.

Other allies should be pursuing exactly the same strategy. There is a dire need to undermine authoritarian – and imperialistic – states. It won’t be done on Twitter, it will be done by showing how much better off ethnic Chinese, Russians, Arabs etc… are under the rule of law in complex societies that aren’t simply designed to stroke their imperialistic ego.

So there you have my advice:

  1. Backup plans
  2. Domestic manufacture of stupid weapons on smart platforms
  3. Ideological warfare in support of the rule of law

What say you?

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