265. Paper Prepared in the Defense Intelligence Agency1


1. (S) In the event that hostilities are terminated in such a way that both the Arab states and Israel remain viable and roughly equal in military capabilities, the long-range outlook for the Middle East would be for continued political hostility and sporadic outbreaks of armed conflict. The Arabs are devoted to the ultimate objective of destroying the Israeli state. Only substantially superior Israeli military capabilities can adequately deter continued Arab efforts to accomplish that objective by force. The present course of hostilities suggests that the Israelis no longer possess the requisite degree of superiority.

2. (S) In fact, a significant change may be taking place in the balance of power between the Arabs and Israel. However well they come out of the present conflict, the Israelis can no longer be confident of quick, decisive victories in the future. And yet, in the present scheme of things, the capability to achieve such victories appears essential for [Page 732]Israeli survival against a determined foe with a far greater population, increasing wealth, and apparently unending Soviet military support.

3. (S) Even if Israel were to enjoy a favorable position in conventional military terms over the Arabs in the initial post-hostilities period, the logic of the overall situation leads to the conclusion that some measure or measures beyond conventional military self-help will be necessary to insure Israel’s future security. Among the options are: an international guarantee of Israel’s borders; a unilateral US military guarantee of those borders; or a public declaration of Israeli determination to employ nuclear weapons to guarantee its territorial integrity. None of these, however, appear to offer an effective solution.

a. International Guarantee. The chances for a meaningful international guarantee are not good. The US is probably the only outside power that would have a clear interest in such an agreement. The Arab states quite certainly would not enter into it except under excessive external pressure. Only the Soviets would be in a position to exert such pressure. They are unlikely to do so and the Arabs would not feel bound by the agreement in any case. The kind of mutually agreed international action needed to force Arab compliance would be unavailable in most conceivable circumstances.

b. US Military Guarantee. A US military guarantee of Israel’s borders, while feasible, would be fraught with undesirable strategic and political consequences. Even the present scale of our involvement is opposed by many of our allies. Our military/political posture in Europe and elsewhere would be degraded by a commitment to Israel that would be only indirectly related to the Soviet threat to our interests in other areas. Such a guarantee would completely alienate all Arab states and could have serious consequences in light of our growing dependence on them for oil.

c. Israeli Nuclear Threat. Assuming that Israel has or is soon to acquire nuclear weapons, their threatened use against such targets as Arab forces, cities, ports, holy places, and the Aswan High Dam could serve to deter future armed attacks. Such an avowed Israeli policy would occasion world-wide opposition. The US would, therefore, find it extremely difficult to associate itself with such an Israeli policy. Meanwhile, the Arabs might be willing to attack, despite the deterrent threat. They might assume that (1) Israel will not carry out the threat, (2) they could succeed even if the Israelis used nuclear weapons, perhaps with the aid of other unconventional means of their own such as chemical or biological weapons, or (3) they would reap important benefits from the resultant international reaction should Israel carry out its threat. Any deterrent effect of such an Israeli threat would, of course, be diminished should the Arab states themselves acquire nuclear weapons.

[Page 733]

4. (S) One contingency not discussed above is a USUSSR agreement to curtail and even cease military aid to all Mid-East states. Such an agreement is conceivable under a far-reaching détente arrangement. Its initial effect would be to render Israel secure because of its superior military-industrial capacity. In the longer run, however, the foreign exchange available to the Arab states from oil sales alone would permit the purchase of arms on the international market on a scale even exceeding previous Soviet assistance.

  1. Source: National Archives, RG 218, Official Records of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Moorer, FRC 218–92–0029, Box 16, Israel. Secret. Enclosure 1 to S–1153/DE. The paper is attached to an October 24 memorandum from Vice Admiral V.P. de Poix, Director of DIA, to Admiral Moorer, which noted that the balance of power between Israel and the Arab states might be undergoing a shift in favor of the latter, and that in this changed situation a number of possible means other than conventional military force might offer a chance of insuring Israeli security.