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Louis René Beres


  • Originally published 08/13/2013

    Louis René Beres: Core Roots of Palestinian Terrorism

    Louis René Beres was educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), and publishes widely on world politics, terrorism, and international law.Jerusalem will soon have to confirm its final Road Map decisions on "peace." Then, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will need to determine whether the still-fractionated Palestinian side is willing and able to overcome some of its deepest cultural roots. Without such a determination, any formal agreement could be perilous.Here, insight requires memory. Before a resurgent medievalism took hold in the Islamic Middle East, the fraternity of Palestinian terrorist groups had contained many disparate bedfellows. Virtually every Arab enemy of Israel was more-or-less welcome to join in a battle for "national self- determination" against the "Zionists." Today, the fight has changed from a preeminently secular and tactical one, to a struggle that draws heavily upon still-underlying commitments to religious sacrifice.

  • Originally published 08/08/2013

    Louis René Beres: Peaceful Civil Disobedience in Israel

    Louis René Beres (Ph.D., Princeton, 1971) lectures and publishes widely on Middle East security matters.  His writings on Israel, military strategy, and jurisprudence appear regularly in many major newspapers and magazines, and also in more than a dozen major law journals.Sometimes, tragedy and irony may arrive together. Now that it is reportedly back “on track,” the so-called Middle East Peace Process threatens Israel with additional dismemberment, and eventual disappearance.Aware of these intolerable prospects, thousands of Israelis who are opposed to any further existential surrenders may soon prepare for an appropriate response to “Palestine.” Whatever its particular shape and expression, this "post-peace" response to a new Arab state, one that would be carved out of Israel's own still-living body, may take some recognizable form of civil disobedience.To be sure, the Netanyahu Government, inexplicably confident in Palestinian compliance with pre-state agreements on “demilitarization,” will object strongly to any such tactics. Nonetheless, civil disobedience has a long and distinguished tradition in jurisprudence and democratic theory.  In part, as the following argument will make clear, certain roots of this tradition actually lie in Jewish Law.

  • Originally published 07/21/2013

    Louis René Beres: What Does It Mean to Kill for a Cause?

    Louis René Beres is a professor of political science at Purdue University and the author of multiple books.Before any country can fashion an effective counter-terrorism policy, it needs a clear and purposeful understanding of "the enemy." For the United States, especially after discovering so-many behavioral contradictions in the Boston Marathon bombers, an underlying task must be to look more closely and explicitly at issues of normalcy. On the cover of yesterday's Rolling Stone, for instance (which was the source of widespread outcry) Dzhokhar Tsarnaev is both "glamorously" posed and called a "monster."Is it correct to assume that all or most of this country's terrorist foes are "abnormal"? Or does such a position ultimately hinder our urgent national security efforts? Would such an assumption represent little more than a ritualized political obligation -- a purely self-serving and ideologically obligatory policy stance -- or might it still be the considered outcome of rock solid and objective psychological science?

  • Originally published 07/18/2013

    Louis Rene Beres: Israel’s Release of Palestinian Terrorists Would Violate International Law

    Louis Rene Beres is a professor of political science and international law at Purdue University.What sort of people and government would agree to free the murderers of its own children and do it in the name of a presumed "good will" toward irreconcilable enemies? What might this people and government be thinking, especially when its hoped-for quid pro quo is an obvious delusion?Inconceivably, in Jerusalem, there is evidence that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may soon oblige Washington and go along with at least a partial release of Palestinians serving time for perpetrating unspeakable violence against Israelis. Leaving aside that any such release would be unreciprocated, and that both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas would remain committed to Israel's eradication, this contemplated freeing of terrorists would also be inherently illegal.All countries coexist under a binding law of nations. A core element of this international law is the rule of nullum crimen sine poena, or "no crime without a punishment." An unchanging principle, drawn from the law of ancient Israel, it was reaffirmed for all nations at the historic Nuremberg Trials (1945-46)....

  • Originally published 07/08/2013

    Louis René Beres: Beyond Good and Evil in U.S. Counterterrorism Policies

    Louis René Beres is a professor of Political Science at Purdue UniversityAll of America's national security strategy on counterterrorism is based, in part, on a single core assumption: that our terrorist enemies are plainly and uniformly "abnormal." Significantly, however, such presumptively stark polarities between normal and abnormal, good and evil, represent a debilitating caricature. In order to better understand and combat these enemies, we must first learn to acknowledge that even "normal" individuals can sometimes do us great harm.What does this mean? By definition, at least, psychopathology and normalcy would appear to be mutually exclusive. Yet some of our most insightful thinkers have reasoned otherwise. In these examples, they have willingly looked beyond the seductive veneers of orthodox psychological investigation.Sigmund Freud wrote about the "Psychopathology of Everyday Life" (1914) while tracing some intriguing connections between "the abnormal" and "the normal," and was genuinely surprised to learn just how faint the line of demarcation could be. More precisely, in exploring parapraxes, or slips of the tongue, a phenomenon that we now conventionally call "Freudian slips," he concluded that certain psychopathologic traits could occasionally be discovered in normal persons....

  • Originally published 06/25/2013

    Louis Rene Beres: The Palestinian Treaty Problem

    Louis Rene Beres is a professor of International Law at Purdue University. Born in Zurich, Switzerland at the end of World War II, he is the author of many major books and articles dealing with world politics, law, literature, and philosophy.From the beginning, the state of nations has been the state of nature. Always, states and empires are poised for war. Normally, in order to secure themselves within this condition of protracted peril, they have fashioned assorted written agreements under international law. These formal codifications, expressed as treaties, have sought to smooth over the dreadfully harsh realities of anarchic world politics.Still, on a fragmenting planet, law insistently follows power politics. Throughout history, more or less grievous problems have arisen whenever particular signatories had determined that lawful compliance is no longer in the "national interest." The overriding takeaway here is that treaties can be useful whenever there is a conspicuous mutuality of interest, but they can also become worthless whenever such mutuality is expected to disappear.

  • Originally published 04/23/2013

    Louis René Beres: What's to Blame for America's Senseless Wars?

    Louis Rene Beres is a professor of International Law at Purdue University. Born in Zurich, Switzerland at the end of World War II, he is the author of many major books and articles dealing with world politics, law, literature, and philosophy.Where there were great military actions, there lies whitening now the jawbone of an ass.–Saint-John PerseI am in Vietnam, wondering just how any U.S. president could ever have imagined a purposeful American war in this part of the world. My considerable wonderment has as much to do with the obvious vacancy of 1960s and 1970s-era conceptual justifications (Vietnam as a threatened "domino" was the preferred metaphor) as with patently overwhelming operational difficulties. Notwithstanding the carefully cultivated and contrived images of an indispensable conflict, this was a war that never had a single defensible raison d'etre, and that never displayed any conceivable way of being won.Never.Lately, it was Iraq, although now already officially ended, at least for us. In Afghanistan, a war is still ongoing, even for us. Allegedly, at least for us, the Afghan war will soon be over. For the Afghans, however, it will be status quo ante bellum.At best.

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