The dilemma of a ‘trigger happy’ protégé–Israel, France and President Carter’s Iraq policy

Or Rabinowitz*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


What should a powerful patron do when a weaker protégé plans to launch a counter-proliferation strike against the nuclear facilities of a target country? This paper identifies three possible strategies available to the patron when handling a ‘trigger happy’ protégé. These strategies range from lending ‘tacit support’ to the protégé’ on the one end, to ‘intervention by exposure’, on the other end, where the raid is effectively sabotaged. Occupying the middle ground is a strategy termed ‘status quo adherence’, in which the patron attempts to warn the protégé against launching the raid, while simultaneously bidding to mitigate the protégé’s concerns by other diplomatic measures. By accessing previously untapped documents from several archives, the study uses the Carter administration’s approach to Israel’s growing agitation with the Iraqi nuclear programme to explore the strategy of ‘status quo adherence’ and its lessons.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)389-417
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Strategic Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Carter
  • Iraq
  • Israel
  • Nuclear
  • counter-proliferation


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