In a short, insightful book about Israel's strategic thinking, Rodman provides a clear overview of Israel's national security doctrine. He reviews the evolving impact of several variables, such as deterrence, geography, manpower, quantity versus quality, offensive maneuver warfare, responses to conventional versus non-conventional threats, self reliance, great power patronage, and regional partnerships. He then analyzes Israel's use of force, diplomacy, its relations with Washington, recent strategic partnerships with Turkey and India, the appropriate paradigm for the analysis of Israel's external strategy, and Israel's rare attempts to adopt far-reaching goals such as targeting hostile governments. Defense and Diplomacy in Israel's National Security Experience offers a good introductory text to the intricacies of Israel's strategic dilemmas and behavior. It also includes a useful bibliography for further research.
The author is correct in his evaluation that Israel's remarkable success in becoming a vibrant and prosperous democracy, despite its Hobbesian predicament, has been due in no small part to a pragmatic and effective strategic calculus. Israeli leaders have generally had a sophisticated understanding of the regional and international environments and have been adept in using military power in a measured way to achieve security and limited political goals.
Although well organized and well written, the reader gets the impression that the book is a compilation of articles written at various times with separate focuses, with not much effort made to integrate and update their materials. For example, the chapter analyzing the patron-client relationship between the United States and Israel does not include any analysis of post-Cold War realities. Similarly, devoting two chapters to the discussion of whether Israel's defense and foreign policy was driven by realist or Jewish ethno-cultural factors is probably not proportionate to so short a book. Lastly, the conclusion fails to bring together the many themes that were otherwise mostly well addressed.