Israel's National Security towards the 21st Century
Edited by Uri Bar-Joseph. London: Frank Cass, 2001. 212 pp. $59.50.
Reviewed by Efraim Inbar
BESA Center for Strategic Studies, Bar-Ilan University
Middle East Quarterly
This collection of essays could have been better, but it got stuck on the typical academic penchant for theory. Two of the five articles are of a general theoretical nature, with no reference to Israel. Benjamin Miller provides a good discussion of the concept of national security but fails to relate its implications to the Israeli case or to the debates in Israel. Emily O. Goldman provides a systematic and comprehensive treatment of the sources for change in national security doctrines—quite intriguing in light of the intense debate in Israel for the last years over the formulation of a new doctrine—without touching on the Israeli case. A more forceful editor would have transformed these two articles into studies relevant to the subject of the book.
The rest of the collection provides solid articles treating important aspects of Israel's national security. Chris C. Demchak analyzes the main elements in adapting the Israel Defense Forces to the revolution in military affairs, pointing out Israel's advantages (widespread computer skills, an innovative tradition, blurred civilian-military boundaries) and disadvantages (too much individualism, lack of discipline, lack of systematic planning) in such a process. Yiftah S. Shapir discusses the Israeli threat perception in light of the spread of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East and the dilemmas involved in the multi-layered defense structure established to meet these threats. Avi Kober looks at Israeli responses to the non-conventional challenge and argues that there is a declining political value for clear military victories in the battlefield, finding that Israel has reached an era of "political and military negativism."
The book's omissions are striking. It should have begun with a strategic tour d'horizon, identifying Israel's security challenges and the directions the country can or should take. And it should have dealt with Israel's low-intensity conflict wars, the current challenge, and the most probable future ones, too.
Related Topics: Israel & Zionism | Efraim Inbar | Fall 2002 MEQ
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