On 12 May 1948, a group of nine men and one woman met in Tel Aviv to decide on the establishment of a new State. Around them, a ferocious Civil War had been going on for the past six months. The British mandate was to expire in two days. The ten members of the Provisional State Council of the Jewish Agency faced a tough dilemma. The United Nations (UN) Resolution of 29 November 1947, decreed that Palestine was to be partitioned into a Palestinian State and a Jewish State. The Arabs and the Palestinians had rejected this resolution, threatening to invade Palestine if the jews declared their own State. The Palestinians – aided by irregular forces from various Arab States – had been fighting the Jews since late 1947. As long as the British forces were in Palestine, there was a semblance of a Government. Now that they were about to leave, it seemed necessary to somehow fill this vacuum.
The inclination of the Jewish leaders was to proclaim the formation of the Jewish State. But that would bring about an invasion by the Armies of the Arab States. On the table for consideration was an American proposal to delay the declaration of independence, accept an armistice, and allow for a mediation process by the international community in an effort to find a mutually acceptable solution to the Palestine problem. The representatives of the Security organs of the Yishuv – the preState institutions – presented a bleak assessment of the coming War. They expected at least three and as many as seven Arab States to send Armies into Palestine. The Jewish population, numbering some 650,000 people, was being mobilised. By May 1948, the newly established Army of the Jewish organisations amounted to some 80,000 recruits (Ostfeld 1994, 54). However, they were poorly equipped and required considerable training before they could be sent to the front. The military commanders anticipated as many as 120,000 Arab soldiers equipped with armor, airplanes, and artillery to participate in the invasion of Palestine (Ostfeld 1994, 23-24). The military commanders estimated the chance of survival of the Jewish State as even at best (Sharef 1959, 83-84; Shlaim 2000, 33).
With the support of six members against four opposed, the Provisional Council decided to proclaim a Jewish State and call it the State of Israel. The Provisional Council would henceforth become the provisional Government of Israel, until such time that elections could determine the permanent Government.
As David Ben-Gurion, the interim Prime Minister, had anticipated, on 14 May 1948, a combined invasion of a jordanian and egyptian Army started. The syrian and the lebanese Armies engaged in a token effort but did not stage a major attack on the Jewish State. Other States sent volunteers, but the combined strength of the arab Armies and the irregular forces fighting the jewish State was far less than anticipated. The balance of Forces in terms of military personnel was in favour of the israeli Army (Golani 2002, 158-68). Initially the Jews had far less advanced military equipment than the arab Armies, but this changed quickly when Israel signed a weapons deal with Czechoslovakia. Other weapons deals through private sources also enabled the new State to tilt the balance of hardware in its favour (Ilan 1996, 181-200). After nearly seven months of fighting (interrupted by two UN-decreed truces), Israel defeated decisively all the arab States, crushed the Palestinian resistance, and signed a series of armistice agreements with all of its arab neighbours.
The War of Independence exacted a heavy toll on the jewish State. A total of sixtyfive hundred soldiers and civilians died in the war, 1 percent of the entire Jewish population. The Economy of the new State was in extremely bad shape, having been totally mobilised for the War effort. While the war was raging, thousands of Jewish refugees were flowing into the country. They needed food, homes, work, Language training, and other social benefits. But the end of the War brought a great deal of hope and Optimisme to the new State. Many Israelis believed that the armistice agreements would soon be converted into peace treaties that would stabilise and legitimise the new State’s boundaries (Segev 1984; Yaniv 1995, 37-38, 1987a, 38). Ben-Gurion thought otherwise. He believed that the Arab rejection of Israel was fundamental and irrevocable. They were defeated in the first round, but there would be other rounds of warfare. Next time, the Arabs would be better prepared, better equipped, and – with the memory of the humiliating 1948 defeat in their minds – possibly better motivated. Israel had to be ready to fight again (Ben-Gurion 1969, 480-92).
Ben-Gurion was right about the need to fight again, but he probably did not expect his prophecy to be fulfilled to such an overwhelming extent. Over the fiftyfive year period between 1948 and 2004, Israel fought 6 interState Wars, fought 2 (some say three) Civil Wars, and engaged in over 144 dyadic militarised interState disputes (MIDs) that involved the threat, the display, or the use of military force against another State. (1) Israel is by far the most conflict-prone State in modern History. It has averaged nearly 4 MIDs every year. It has fought an interState War every nine years. Israel appears on top of the list of the most intense international rivalries in the last two-hundred year period (Maoz 2004a).
Fifty-five years after its independence and after Peace treaties with two of its most bitter enemies, Israel still lives by its sword. One out of ten Israelis in the age group of fifteen to forty-nine wears an Army uniform on a daily basis. One out of every eight dollars that Israelis produce goes to defence every year. (2) As this book goes to press, Israel continues to fight a bitter Civil War with the Palestinians, the end of which is nowhere to be seen.
One could claim – indeed, many already have – that a fundamentally hostile environment, one that has yet to accept the Jewish State into the community of nations, imposed on Israel the need to become the “Sparta of modern times.” However, some of the factual Realities behind Israel’s policies do not add up to a picture in which Israel plays the victim’s role. For example, Israel signed a Peace treaty with is most powerful enemy, Egypt, in 1979. This treaty seems stable even twenty-five years later. Yet, the size and scope of Israel’s Defence Forces (IDF), the continued high defence spending, and its proclivity to use excessive Force have not declined. They did not decline even after another Peace treaty was signed with Jordan in 1994. Israel continues to maintain and – quite probably – continues to expand its nuclear capability, clinging to the policy of “nuclear ambiguity.”
Israel and foreign strategists
repeatedly claim that Israel is quantitatively and qualitatively superior to
any combination of enemies in the region (e.g. Cordesman 2004, 2002; Gordon
2003). Yet, Israel keeps building and exercising its military Power on a
regular basis. The frequent use of massive air Power and armored Force in an
attempt to quash the Palestinian uprising during the last four years is a vivid
example of Israel’s proclivity to amass and use excessive military Force
despite diminishing threats. It also suggests how futile this policy may be.
Is Israel forced to live by its sword, or does it want to live that way? Is the militarisation of Israeli Society a fact imposed by its hostile environment? Or is it a device by which its elite mobilises the Society to confront the domestic challenges that Israeli Society has faced since its inception? Have Israel’s military strategy and diplomacy responded to the challenge of survival in a highly complex, often hostile, and always challenging international environment? Or have these strategies been determined by internal considerations, structures, and people driven by personal and collective ambitions and drives?
Those who are looking for a single and elegant explanation and for clear answers to these questions would do best to turn to another book. I do not intend to provide direct answers to these questions, although some ideas could be gleaned from this study. Instead of trying to explain what made Israel the Sparta of modern times, I examine the goals its leaders set for the country’s Foreign and Security Policy. I investigate whether and to what extent the policies Israel has pursued over the years helped accomplish these goals. And – most important – I evaluate the central policies and strategies that Israel has applied over time and explain how they came about and why they succeeded and failed.
The observations offered by the present study about Israel’s Security and Foreign Policy are neither simple nor elegant. Many of them are quite controversial. This book is primarily an attempt to evaluate these policies, by asking a simple set of questions that connect goals to policy and policies to outcomes. Specifically, I examine the following questions:
1. What were the – explicit and hidden – goals of decision makers in key Foreign and Security matters?
2. How were the policies selected by decision makers supposed to accomplish these goals?
3. Were these goals accomplished?
4. If they were, how was the policy related to the outcomes?
5. If these goals were not accomplished, why not?
6. Did various policies have side effects, that is, outcomes that were not intended or were not foreseen by the policymakers?
7. If so, to what extent were these side effects in accordance with, or in contradiction to, the broader goals of Israel’s Security, Foreign, and Domestic Policy?
In the present chapter, I outline the goals of the study, its scope, its structure and approach, and the key themes that emerge in the coming chapters. Before going into these matter, however, we must outline the fundamental building blocks of Israel’s Security and Foreign Policy. In the next section, I present the basic assumptions underlying Israel’s Security and Foreign Policy since 1948. On the basis of these assumptions I present the principal tenets of Israel’s Security conception and the derivative Foreign Policy. I emphasise the notion of a derivative Foreign Policy because – as I will document in the following chapters – Israel’s Foreign Policy has always been a servant of Israel’s Security Policy.
The third section provides a brief overview of the scholarship on Israel’s Security and Foreign Policy. This overview is necessarily general and superficial. It is intended only as a broad outline of various strands of thought in the study of Israeli History and Security matters. Much of this Literature will be used extensively in the chapters that follow. In the fourth section, I discuss the theoretical and methodological principles that guide this study. The fifth section lays out the structure of this study and the key theme it invokes.
2. The Building blocks of Israel’s national Security Policy
The foundations of Israel’s national Security conceptions were laid down by David Ben-Gurion in the late 1940s and the early 1950s. Many Israeli strategists view these doctrinal foundations to be valid at present as well (Ben Israel 2001, 269-71; Tal 2000, vi). Ben-Gurion’s ideas not only are widely accepted among the members of the Israeli Security community but are widely shared by the Israeli public (Arian 1995, 65-66, 173-86, 254-71). I present these principal ideas and discuss them very briefly here. (3) In subsequent chapters I examine many of these ideas in a more critical fashion.
Israel’s Security Policy is based on a set of assumptions about Israel’s regional and international environment. These assumptions define the basic threat perception that Israel is said to have experienced over the years.
i) The Arab world is fundamentally hostile toward Israel. It would attempt to destroy the jewish State given the right chance.
The Arabs – Palestinians, Egyptians, Syrians, or even more remote people such as the Algerians, Libyans, or Iraqis – have never accepted the formation of a Jewish State in Palestine. They might accept it as a (possibly temporary) fact, but they have never internalised the fact that Jews have the right to a national homeland in the Middle East. Therefore, the Arabs harbour a permanent and powerful motivation to annihilate the Jewish State. The only thing that prevents them from doing so is their awareness of the futility of this mission and/or their awareness that the price of such an attempt would be exorbitant. The implication is that Israel is destined to live for a long time under an existential threat. [WoodyAllen. DavidCronenberg.] In the short term (the short term being the foreseeable future) its policies and actions can only affect the Arab cost-benefit Calculus; they cannot affect Arab motivation. In the long run this motivation may change, but this is not certain, and the long run may be very long indeed.
ii) Fundamental asymmetries exist between Israel and the Arab world.
No matter how widely or how narrowly we define the boundaries of the Arab world, Israel faces enemies that are much more populous, have vastly larger territory, possess more natural resources, and are better networked with the outside world than is the Jewish State. Even if these resources are not spent directly on the mission of destroying Israel, the pool of resources at the disposal of Arab leaders creates a threat of vast magnitude.
iii) The international community is an unreliable ally.
Israel is dependent on the outside world to survive economically and militarily. As an advanced Society, it also requires ties with the outside – mostly Western – world for cultural, educational, and social purposes. Israel is also dependent on the world because, up to the early 1990s, most of the Jewish population resided outside of Israel. Its spiritual, social, and economic ties to the Jewish community are an essential component of the Israeli national community. Israel is also dependent on the outside world for weapons. At the same time, Israel cannot rely on the outside world to ensure its survival and defence. Ultimately, Israeli men and women will have to risk their lives to defend their country. Nobody else will do it for them. Moreover, both the Experiences of the [Nazi] Holocaust and the short History of the preState and State periods suggest that the international community is an unreliable source of political and military support. It is at times of dire need that the international community – even Israel’s closest friends and allies – has consistently disappointed Israel. Israel can ultimately rely on itself to ensure its survival, not on the pledges of others, no matter how well intentioned they may be. The concept of “a people that dwells alone” is a clear expression of this perception of international isolation.
iv) Israel’s Geography is a major constraint on its ability to fight.
The map of Israel (see maps 1.1 and 1.2) shows how small Israel is in relation to its neighbours and how narrow the country’s “waist” has been in the area immediately north and east of Tel Aviv – especially before the Occupation of the territories during the Six Day War. This implies that an attack by one or more Arab States could split the country into several slices almost instantly. Moreover, Israel’s population centers are within the range of light arms fire and certainly artillery fire of its enemy. A jet plane taking off from Syria, Jordan, and even Egypt can reach Israel’s population centers in a matter of minutes. The Israeli civilian and military airfields are within the range of tactical Syrian missiles and a short flight from Egyptian bases in the Sinai and from Jordanian air base. In the era of complex manœuvering jet fighters, Israel’s planes do not have even enough room to circle around over Israeli airspace in order to practice or land in their bases. For Israel, losing territory means risking its very survival.
v) The Iron Wall offers the long-term hope for the jewish State.
The concept of an “Iron Wall,” developed in Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s famous articles of 1923, represents a vision that entails both short-term hardships and a long-term ray of hope. This concept was implicitly adopted by Ben-Gurion, Jabotinsky’s great political rival (Shlaim 2000, 19). The Iron Wall theme suggests that Israel has a number of things working for it in the long run: its staying power, the military blows it hands the Arabs every time they try to attack it, and the development of a model Society that outperforms Arab Societies. All these factors, along with Israel’s viability and prosperity as a democratic and advanced Society, will work to convince the Arabs of the futility and the illogic of their dreams. Over time, the Arabs will come to accept the Jewish State and to make Peace with it. Initially, this would be a Peace of realists, that is, a Peace of acceptance but not reconciliation. As this Peace bears fruits, the Arabs will realise that they stand to benefit far more from peaceful and open relationships with the Jewish State than from conflict or boycott. When that happens, reconciliation would follow. It is impossible to develop a long-term national vision on the basis of this bleak Reality. Why should Jews come to settle in Israel so that they or their children would be driven into the sea by a mass of Arabs bent on genocide and politicide, while the international community stands idly by? Even the most optimistic scenario suggests that Israel would have to live by its swords for a very long time – perhaps several generations. The Zionist leaders had to provide a ray of hope in that vision. The concept of the Iron Wall provides this long-term optimistic vision and the rationale for Israeli resilience and staying Power despite the lack of a short-term relief.
As noted, these assumptions remained largely stable over time. Some of the more operational contours of these assumptions may have undergone changes in different periods. For example, the scope of the threat had originally been limited to the Arab world. For example, the scope of the threat had originally been limited to the Arab world. States such as Iran and Turkey were excluded from the circle of enemies for a long time because they were not considered “Arab.” Turkey’s status has remained unchanged in this respect. Iran, however, has become one of the most potent enemies of Israel since the 1990s due to the fundamental hostility of the Isalmic regime in Tehran, its long-range missiles, and its nuclear program. The economic threat – especially that element based on Arab oil resources – became much more prominent in the list of resources that could be mobilised against Israel after the 1973 Arab oil embargo. Finally, the key fear of Israeli leaders in the 1950s and 1960s was of an all-out attack by a mass of Arab Armies. This danger may have diminished somewhat, but it is still a significant threat. However, the new concern that takes up much of the time of the Israeli Security community is the acquisition of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) – especially nuclear weapons – by one or more of Israel’s enemies. So there is an added technological threat that has become an important element in Israel’s list of nightmares.
The basic tenets of Israel’s security doctrine that emerge from these assumptions reflect a set of ideas concerning the general principles for dealing with these threats and structural constraints over the long haul. These tenets are not listed in any particular order, as there is no clear hierarchy among them.
i) The principle of qualitative edge.
Israel must rely on a large margin of qualitative advantage to offset the quantitative advantages of the Arab States. The strength of the Jewish State lies in the quality of its manpower, in its technological and educational capability, and in the social cohesion and motivation of its population. This qualitative edge is expressed in both military and nonmilitary terms. In military terms it is translated to hardware and software. Israel must be able to develop and/or acquire far more modern and capable weapons systems than the Arabs. The quality of manpower ensures that Israeli pilots, sailors, tank crews, artillery gunners, and even infantry and special operations soldiers outperform their Arab counterparts by a wide margin. Even when the weapons systems are evenly matched in terms of their technical specifications, the difference in manpower quality ensures that the Israelis should always have better soldiers than the Arabs. The same applies to military generalship; to tactical command quality; and, of course, to the synergy among weapons systems, support systems (e.g., logistics, Communication, intelligence), People, and mission. In terms of nonmilitary elements of Power, Israeli Society should be able to provide the armed Forces with cohesive and highquality human, economic, social, and political reserves. This would enable the military along the borders to operate free of concerns as to what is going on at the home front. Therefore, national leaders should seek – to the extent possible – to pursue policies that rely on a high degree of public support in matters of national Security. This implies, among other things, opting to go to War only under circumstances of no choice. Purely aggressive Wars may erode public support for national Security Policies and thus reduce the willingness of Israeli Society to contribute to a long-term national Security stand necessary to sustain the Iron Wall in the long run.
ii) A nation at arms.
Israeli Society must be fully mobilisable in times of crisis and ready and willing to extract all of its resources for the struggle for survival. At the same time, Israel should be able to provide its People with welfare, freedoms, and basic rights akin to that of any advanced democratic Society. Israeli Society must be able to function as a “normal” Society during times of relative Peace in order to be a true haven for the Jews around the world. Since the transition from Peace to War may be very quick, the Society must be able to transform itself quickly into a fully mobilised entity. This dictates a large conscript military Force as well as a substantial reserve component that is well trained and equipped and that can be mobilised quickly.
iii) The principle of strategic defensive and operational offensive.
Israel’s political and strategic posture is status quo-oriented; yet its operational doctrine is offensive. At any given point in its History, Israel’s decision makers accepted the territorial status quo. Therefore they always claimed that Israel had no territorial ambitions. Nevertheless, for the reasons discussed later, Israeli political leaders believed that Israel could not afford to fight defensive Wars. The preference for an offensive strategy was never due to proactive political ambitions; it was an outgrowth of structural constraints. Some of these constraints are listed subsequently.
iv) The principle of short wars aimed at quick decision.
Israel cannot afford to fight long and drawn-out Wars. It has to engage in short and decisive military campaigns. The focus on short wars is dictated by three fundamental constraints.
a. Social and economic constraints
A fully mobilised military Force implies bringing Israeli Economy and Society to a screeching halt. The opponents may wear Israel out not by imposing one massive military strike but rather by overdrawing its human and material resources beyond their breaking point. Also, defensive strategies yield to the enemy the strategic advantage; Israel’s enemies can decide when, where, and how to attack. This can tip Israeli Society beyond its economic breakpoint due to the need to maintain full mobilisation. Short and decisive Wars allow Israel to maximise its capabilities, to achieve military decision, and then to release its reserve Forces so that its Society could continue to function. Israel has to slice up its strategic marathon against the Arab world into a series of one-hundred meter dashes.
b. Geographic constraints
Israel’s small territorial margins, its narrow waist, and the small distance between the border and Israel’s population centers prohibit defensive postures. Defending a given territory effectively must allow the defender some room for manœuver within its own lines (Luttwak 2001, 147-57), which Israel does not have. Therefore Israel must rely on an offensive strategy and transfer the fighting to the enemy’s territory. This may require a willingness to use a first-strike doctrine and to initiate preventive or preemptive Wars. Even when the enemy launches the first strike, Israel must strive to seize the strategic initiative by moving to an offensive and into the enemy’s territory as quickly as possible.
c. International constraints
The international community is likely to intervene quickly and decisively in order to bring an end to the fighting. If Israel wants to reach a military decision in the War for purposes of cumulative deterrence (see later discussion), it must do so before the international community imposes on the combatants a cease-fire or even a political agreement. Israel’s tenuous international standing requires it to be in a position of military and territorial strength at the start of negotiations. Thus, Israel must be the one to determine the scope, speed, and nature of the War through its own actions.
v) The principle of major power support for war.
Israel must ensure the explicit and tacit support of at least one major Power before going to War. In the past, Israel’s leaders had to deal with the duality in their perception of the international community. On the one hand, they recognised the basic dependence on the outside world for both material and diplomatic support. On the other hand, they were utterly suspicious of the willingness and ability of the international community to support Israel during severe existential crises. The resolution of this seeming contradiction was typically framed in the previous maxim. The support of a major Power would ensure that Israel would, at the very least, receive enough weapons and munitions to replenish those expended or destroyed during the War. Major Power support is also instrumental for fending off diplomatic attacks and sanctions through the UN Security Council, but this is seen as secondary to ensuring a constant source of weapons supply. The implication of this principle is that Israel should try to avoid or delay Wars for which it cannot secure the support of a major Power.
vi) Autonomy of action before alliance.
Israel should prefer independence of action over binding alliances that might limit its freedom of action. The pursuit of allies to bolster Israel’s Security has always been an important desire of Israel’s leaders. In practice, however, Israel has never faced a practical dilemma where its leaders had to choose between an offer of a formal defence treaty with another State and a prospect of losing its autonomy to act when, where, and how it seemed fit. Nevertheless, the hypothetical possibility was often discussed in policy circles. The prevailing view has always been that Israel is better off keeping informal ties and defence cooperation with other nations rather than signing a binding alliance treaty. Israeli policymakers generally considered the liabilities of a defence pact – the constraints it would impose on Israel’s freedom of action and the questionable reliability of even the friendliest Sate – to outweigh the benefits of such an alliance. A defence pact would contradict the other elements of Israel’s Security conception. Thus, Israel is seen to be better off without such an alliance than with it.
vii) The principle of cumulative deterrence.
Israel’s long-term Security doctrine rests on three principles: cumulative deterrence, limited military decision, and excessive use of Force in both limited conflict settings and general Wars. Israel cannot impose on the Arabs a Peace through a massive and total military victory (Kober 1995); it can only hope to persuade the Arabs to accept Peace due to their War weariness. The Arab States must come to understand that they cannot destroy Israel and that the price of continued conflict is more than they can bear. This implies that Israel has to brace for a protracted conflict punctuated by a – possibly large – number of short Wars and limited encounters. The principle by which Israel can hope to convert over time the Arab motivation to continue the conflict into a readiness to make real Peace with it is the concept of cumulative deterrence (Almog 2004, 1995; Bar Joseph 1998). Cumulative deterrence means successive and effective use of Force in both limited and massive military encounters. Such successful demonstrations of Force are designed to convince the opponent of the futility of military Force in the long term. Cumulative deterrence assumes frequent failures of both general and specific deterrence. (4)
Whenever the more “conventional” form of deterrence fails, Israel must launch a decisive military operation that would bring about a relatively unambiguous military decision within a short time frame. In the cases of more limited challenges of low-intensity conflict (LIC) or limited military engagement, Israel should be able to dominate the process of escalation and maintain the strategic initiative, so as to bring the opponent to the point of exhaustion and defeat. The accumulation of what Almog (2004, 6) calls “assets in a victory bank” would serve to persuade the Arabs that they cannot win. As Lieberman (1995, 63) puts it: “Short-term deterrence failures may be a necessary condition for long-term deterrence success.”
viii) The Samson Option.
This principle concerns ambiguous nuclear deterrence in situations of last resort. If conventional deterrence fails and Israel finds itself in a situation wherein it might be defeated in a major military confrontation, or if the Arabs engage in actions that threaten the very survival of Israel (e.g., use WMDs against population centers or basic infrastructures) [Completehypocrisy. WoodyAllen. SaulBellows. ElieWiesel. DavidCronenberg.] Israel threatens to use its nuclear weapons. This threat is ambiguous, however, because Israel has never openly admitted to possession of nuclear weapons. The conception that Israel has sought to convey – through veiled threats and signals of various kinds – is that its nuclear weapons serve as an ultimate insurance policy designed to deter the annihilation of the State by massive Force. Hersh’s (1991) term – the Samson Option – is an apt characterisation of the role of nuclear deterrence in Israel’s Security Policy.
ix) Settlements as determinant of borders.
Israeli settlements will determine Israel’s final boundaries. This tenet does not appear in the standard list of the basic tenets of Israel’s Security conception. It has become, however, a cornerstone of Israeli Security conception both before the Occupation of Arab territories in the Six Day War and even more so since 1967. Even before 1948, the leading Zionist leaders strongly believed that the outcome of any political settlement in Palestine would be determined by the demographic distribution of the ethnic group residing in it. The drive to bring in Jewish immigrants and settle them in distant areas in an effort to form Jewish population centers in all parts of Palestine was due not only to the vision of Palestine as a Jewish homeland but also to the wish to affect the boundaries of the Jewish State. Settlements form a human and physical fait accompli. They show the determination of a nation to hold on to a given territory and signal to both friends and foes that they will be defended by Force. Thus, settlements were always seen as a pillar of national Security.
Taken together, these nine tenets form a fairly coherent and stable national Security conception. This conception was never published in an official document (and even when there was an attempt to frame it in terms of an official policy it was never approuved by the Cabinet or the presiding Defence Minister at the time; see chap. 11). Yet, there is enough official, semiofficial, and scholarly writing to suggest that this is the doctrine Israel has been using all along. The principal aims of this conception is to enable Israel to overcome the need to cope with fundamental threats to its survival on the one hand and to develop as a “normal” Society that will attract Jews from all over the world on the other hand.
Both the assumptions on which this doctrine rests and the principles of which the doctrine is composed are part of a belief system shared by politicians, experts, and laypersons. However, they are neither valid as a description of objective Reality nor accurate characterisations of Israel’s actual behaviour. In fact, I will show throughout this book that many of the foundational assumptions of these conceptions have been fairly remouved from Reality. I will also show that in many cases Israel violated its own doctrinal principles. In other cases, the rigidity of these doctrinal canons has been detrimental to Israel’s Security and welfare; some of these principles may well have undermined Israel’s ability to make Peace with its neighbours. At this point, however, my intent is to present the elements of Israel’s Security-related belief system as shared by most Israelis. This belief system serves as the basis for the evaluation of Israel’s policies in the coming chapters.
3. Israeli scholarship on national Security and Foreign Policy
This overview is intended as a way of positioning the present study in relation to other studies on the subject. I do not claim originality in most of what is covered in this book. Nor do I claim neutrality and perfect objectivity with respect to the issues I study. I make explicit observations about the wisdom, effectiveness, benefit, or even Ethical standing of various policies. Because this is an evaluation study, I also make descriptive points and normative judgements. Thus, it is important to be explicit about where this book stands in relation to the large and sometimes polarised literature on these topics.
The centrality of Security affairs in Israeli Society, Politics, and Economics is probably unparalleled in the world, certainly in the democratic world. Accordingly, the list of scholarly works on these matters is extremely large. Although we do not have a precise way of measuring it, it is plausible to assume that the number of per capita publications by Israelis on Security and Foreign Policy far surpasses that of any other nation in the modern world.
Another book would be needed solely to review these publications. Therefore, I do not intend to even start doing that here. Rather, I wish to provide a very general characterisation of this literature. I divide the literature into four classes of works: Ideological, historical, analytical, and prescriptive. The boundaries among these categories are rather vague; many studies cross several classes. Nevertheless, each work – at least those I know and cite in the coming pages – tends to fall into one primary class or another.
3.1. The Ideological Literature
As with any Ideological work, the studies belonging to this genre emerge primarily from a set of beliefs and seek to maximise or realise certain norms or values. These works have a marked target – a certain vision they seek to realise – and a marked path – a policy, position, or strategy they consider as most suitable, Moral, or expedient for the realisation of this vision. Typically, this Literature does not deliberate very much on the nature of the vision – its Morality, its consistency with other values or the values of other groups, and its internal Logic and consistency. Nor does this Literature consider, in many cases, alternative paths to accomplishing this vision. For the most part, this Literature focuses on advocacy. Many of the programmatic writings of zionist thinkers – for example, Jabotinsky’s Iron Wall essays mentioned earlier – as well as the writings of other Israeli politicians belong to this genre. A few other works by scholars also fall into this category. I will mention just a few representative writings. They in no way reflect the entire spectrum, but they give the reader a general flavour of this Literature.
Ideological writings on national Security and Foreign Policy can be placed along a left-right (or, more accurately, along a hawkish-dovish) spectrum. A number of important writings of David Ben-Gurion (e.g., Ben-Gurion 1971, 1956) deal with Israel’s Security and Foreign Policy; Moshe Sharett – Israel’s Foreign Minister under Ben-Gurion and the second Prime Minister – also wrote an Ideological booklet. (Sharett 1958). More recent works include Netanyahu’s (2000) hawkish vision of Israel’s international standing and Peres’s (1993) vision of Israel in a regional system characterised by Peace, development, and progress.
3.2. Historical studies
The vast majority of the studies of Israel’s Security and Foreign Policy are historical. These range from accounts of distinct episodes to broad historical surveys of long periods, from autobiographies and biographies of political and military figures to case studies and accounts of specific episodes in Israel’s History. The distinct characteristic of historical studies and biographies or autobiographies is that they tell a story of a period, an event, or an aspect thereof from the subjective perspective of the people who participated in them. Many of these works rely on primary sources, such as transcripts of Government sessions, diplomatic and personal correspondence, and directives by various political and military officials to subordinates. These are supplemented by interviews with the key players in those episodes or secondary accounts by other scholars.
Over the last two decades, however, a growing number of works have raised critical issues about various aspects of Israel’s History and the political and military management of its Security. Many of these critical studies stem from a deliberately anti-institutionalist perspective. Many of them start out from a fundamentally different epistemological and Ideological perspective. This alternative perspective challenges many of the fundamental axioms of the traditional Historiography of Israel. These critical scholars are called “new historians” or post-zionist.” Whatever their collective label, their writings have challenged conventional wisdom about a number of basic facts in Israel’s History. For example, they challenged the widespread [“]myth[“] of a miraculous victory in the War of Independence. Israel, contrary to popular belief – supported by quite a few traditional historians – was not militarily inferior to the Arab States that had attacked it. [Mnemotechnique, “Against the odds, to put it mildly.”] On the contrary, at almost every step of the way, Israel enjoyed a significant advantage in both manpower and equipment (Flapan 1987; Pappé 1992). Second, in contrast to the belief that the Palestinian Arabs fled from Palestine during the War of Independence due to the urging of the Palestinian leadership, these historians showed that Israeli official and unofficial policy had encouraged and actually participated in driving out palestinians of the areas it occupied during the War. Israel bears considerable responsibility – though hardly the exclusive blame – for the Palestinian refugee problem (Morris 2004). Third, the Jewish leadership in Palestine attempted to strike a number of deals with King Abdullah of Transjordan in a “collusion” designed to solve the Palestinian problem between the Jewish State and Transjordan at the expense of the independent Palestinian State authorised by the UN Partition Resolution (Shlaim 1988). More general revisionist reviews of Israel’s History include Shlaim’s (2000) study of Israeli-Arab relations and Morris’s (2001) and Kimmerling and Migdal’s (2003) studies of Israeli-Palestinian relations.
Clearly, these departures from conventional writings invoked quite a few efforts to defend the institutional policies (Shapira 2003; Gelber 2003; Karsh 1997). Beyond the name calling and the personal attacks that these debates invariably entailed, the debate between traditional or institutional historians and revisionist historians revived Israeli Historiography and rendered it more relevant socially. As new archives are being opened and new documents are being declassified, this debate is paradoxically intensifying. Many aspects of this debate are reflected in the coming chapter, but – as I point out in the next section – my perspective is going to be different in terms of both Methodology and approach from both the revisionist and the institutional perspectives.
3.3. Analytic studies
The focus of analytic studies is on the explanation of Israel’s Security and Foreign Policy. Such studies may be very general and cover a broad array of issues and problems, or they can be more specific – focusing on a specific issue, policy, or episode. In this case, too, the number of studies on Security affairs far outweighs those on Foreign Policy. The single most comprehensive analytic study on Israel’s Foreign Policy is Brecher 1972. Other books include Klieman’s (1990) study of Israel’s Foreign Relations and Shaham’s (1998) survey of Israeli relations with the world. General work on Israel’s strategic affairs includes studies by political and military decision makers (e.g. Allon 1968; Tal 2000) or by scholars (e.g., Yaniv 1995, 1987a; Handel 1995, 1973; Ben-Horin and Posen 1981; Levite 1989).
More specific analytic studies focus on such issues as decision making (Brecher 1975; Brecher, with Geist, 1980; Maoz 1997a); Nuclear Policy (Aronson, with Brosh, 1992; Evron 1994); limited use of Force (Shimshoni 1988; Kuperman 1999, 2001); public opinion and national Security (Arian 1995); or civil-military relations (Perlmutter 1969; Ben Meir 1995).
In this area, too, much of the Literature in the past was primarily in line with the conventional wisdom shared by Israeli politicians and the Security community. If there was criticism, it was directed at specific episodes or decisions. Not much of the criticism was structural. In addition, the Literature was generally compartmentalised. Many of the studies focused on the level of the Bureaucracy and the political elites. Not too many empirical and analytical connexions were made between processes operating at the bureaucratic or political levels and wider social trends.
Here, too, in the last decade a growing number of Israeli political scientists and sociologists have started challenging conventional views, offering more structural connexions between Security and social processes. Traditional scholars emphasised the nation-building role of the military in Israeli Society. The IDF was seen as the “melting pot,” a major agent of socialisation of immigrants from all over the world into the Israeli Society. In the last decade, a group of sociologists provided a different perspective of the role of the IDF. This scholarship showed that the militarisation of Israeli Society by the leading political and economic elites served to advance economic and political interests and to perpetuate the stratification of the Israeli Society (Barzilai 1996; Ben-Eliezer 1998; Levy 2003). Critical studies of Israel’s legal system have also shown how the Israeli courts – notorious in Israel for their (sometimes excessive) Liberalisme – have actually served to legitimise the Government’s policy on Security affairs largely at the expense of fundamental Human Rights and personal and collective liberties (Hofnung 1996; Kertzmer 2002; Barzilai 2003).
3.4. Prescriptive studies
Prescriptive studies differ from Ideological studies in that they do not have a specific Ideological vision and a clearly preferred path to accomplilshing it – at least not visibly so. Rather, these studies offer policy recommendation on the basis of a more analytic study of various policy problems and on the basis of consideration of several options toward redressing these problems. The prescriptive part of the study rests heavily on the analytic part of the study. Perhaps the most persistent scholar who emphasised prescriptive ideas is Yehezkel Dror (1989, 1998). Dror’s work emphasises both doctrinal and structural reforms in policy-making and in institutional design. Emmanuel Wald – a former senior officer in the IDF strategic planning branch – has been both an ardent critic and a passionate prescriber of reforms in military structures and doctrines and decision-making processes (1987, 1992). Milstein (1999), a highly conservative historian, offered a hawkish Security doctrine. Feldman (1983) proposed an overt nuclear deterrence policy for Israel, while Evron (1994) supports continued nuclear ambiguity.
The prescriptive studies are highly analytic, but their analysis is – for the msot part – based on rather limited examination of historical and empirical data. Most studies have been rather narrowly focused on one or a few issue areas, and most of them have made a fairly clear distinction between domestic or social issues and Foreign or Security issues. In this genre, we do not find clear revisionist alternatives to the fairly mainstream prescriptions of much of the existing Literature.
How does the present book relate to the existing Literature? First, it builds on all four classes of work. It considers and employs both traditional approaches to Israel’s History and revisionist ones. It considers both mainstream analytic studies and more critical studies. It considers in passing Ideological works only to examine perceptions of leaders but does not delve too much into the psychological or philosophical roots of these writings. And it also considers some of the ideas embedded in the prescriptive writings.
Second, the book’s approach differs from most of the Literature on Israel’s Security and Foreign Policy in that it attempts to provide a comprehensive and critical assessment of Israel’s national Security and Foreign Policy. Its distinguishing characteristics are fourfold:
i) This book’s starting point is evaluative. It attempts to examine the extent to which the goals of Israel’s Security and Foreign Policy have been served by its doctrines, policy decisions, and actions. It attempts to understand the Logic behind the grand strategies (to the extent that such strategies existed) or specific policies. At the same time I match the underlying – overt and hidden – goals of certain policies with their implementation and with their consequences. I also apply policy evaluation criteria to examine these policies, as well as their side effects.
ii) The book’s approach is critical. It challenges the fundamental assumptions that have guided the Founding Fathers of Israel’s national Security and Foreign Policy and their successors. It suggests that these assumptions were not matched with the empirical Realities in the region. In many cases, gloomy assumptions about Israel’s strategic environments, held by Israeli decision makers, had self-fulfilling properties. They forced Israel to act in a manner that exacerbated regional conflicts and raised the costs of such conflicts both for Israel and for its opponents.
iii) The book ties together different aspects of Israel’s Foreign and Security Policy that have not traditionally been connected in other studies on the subject in an attempt to find an overarching Logic and common strands across issues and policies.
iv) The book connects History, policy, theory, and Methodology in a manner that I describe as “strategic.” This approach seeks to integrate these fields under a common roof in order to enhance our ability to understand processes and to evaluate them. It uses History in an attempt to understand policies and events from the perspective of the participants. It uses theory to put these perspectives and actions in a more general and abstract context that looks for patterns and Logic behind seemingly unexplained or unrelated issues. In this context, it attempts to uncover and explain basic trends and patterns in Israeli Foreign and Security Policies. Finally, I examine the relationship among basic assumptions, plans, policies, actions, and outcomes from the end to the beginning. This approach allows us to assess the quality of policies, to derive lessons, and to offer amendments to existing policies or alternative ones.
In order to explain how I plan to integrate History, policy, theory, and Methodology in an effort to evaluate various aspects of Israel’s national Security and Foreign Policy-making, I discuss the general approach and Methodology of this study in the next section. Readers who are interested in the substance of the book may skip the next section without significant loss.
4. Evaluating policy: Theoretical and methodological considerations
4.1. An outline of the evaluation Methodology
The purpose of this book is primarily evaluative. To evaluate Israeli national Security and Foreign Policy, we must understand the connexion between the goals of Israeli decision makers and the policies they pursued. We need to explore the connexion between policies and their – intended and unintended – outcomes. This would enable us to explain why some policies succeeded while others failed. The key aim of policy evaluation is to draw lessons from these successes and failures so that policy can be improuved. But beyond that, a closer inspection of various policies may give us a better look at the underlying Logic of policy-making across a large number of issues. If we find common patterns in how policies are made across issues, we may be able to develop a more general understanding of policy problems and pitfalls. Similar disconnects among policy objectives, policy choices, policy implementation, and policy outcomes suggest structural problems. If such structural problems exist, their identification and treatment may improuve policy across a large number of issues areas.
It is important to note at the outset that the best process of policy evaluation is conducted as part and parcel of policy-making and policy implementation process (Mark, Henry, and Julnes 2000; Nagel 1998). Ideally, when a policy is planned, a program and Methodology designed to evaluate its performance and outcomes is attached. This program is applied in parallel to the implementation of the policy and provides policymakers an ongoing feedback on how this policy performs with respect to their goals and objectives. Such feedback allows decision makers to fix bugs in the policy as it is implemented. This minimises damage to the policy, reduces expenses, and allows policy shifts if it turns out that the policy is not the right one. Unfortunately, a policy evaluation of this kind is not applicable in our case. Most of the policies we examine in this book were applied a long time ago. Most of them have never been fully evaluated; and many of them have not been evaluated at all. What we can do is engage in second-best evaluation strategies, those that are done in retrospect. In this section I discuss how I intend to apply retrospective evaluation to Israeli national Security and Foreign Policy.
Policies are designed to solve problems. Thus, evaluating a public policy must be based first on inspecting the problem that it is intended to solve. Once we understand the nature of the problem, it is possible to specify the goals that the policy is designed to accomplish. In light of these goals, it is then possible to assess the policy in terms of whether and to what extent it was instrumental in accomplishing it started objectives. However, the evaluation of a public policy in terms of its direct effects on the original problems is incomplete. A policy may have side effects, that is, consequences that were not part of the key goals of the policy but that nevertheless were affected by its implementation (Leeuw 1995; Mohr 1995; Nachmias 1979). Finally, as in the case of administering medicine to a patient, it is important to assess whether the medicine does more damage than good and whether the patient would have fared better without it than with it.
Methodologically, the preferred design for policy evaluation is the comparative interrupted time-series design wherein two groups are compared over time: a “control” group and an “experimental” group. Both groups are identical in all aspects but one. The control group is one on which the policy (or treatment) is not administered, whereas the experimental group is the one on which the policy is administered. Each group is examined prior to the implementation of the policy, during the implementation process, and after it is implemented. The impact of the policy on the experimental groups is assessed both in terms of a before-after comparison and in terms of comparison to the control group.
In strategic affairs (in contrast to Domestic Policy areas), the evaluation of policies – certainly grand strategic undertakings – is a difficult task. One of the key problems concerns the difficulty in examining the impact of an alternative – counterfactual – policy on a given historical process (Mohr 1995, chap. 1). (5) Clearly, this evaluation design is irrelevant here. However, other evaluation schemes can be applied. For example, we can use an (interrupted time-series) analysis that entails a comparison of the problem before the policy was implemented to the situation after the policy was applied (Mohr 1995; Nachmias 1979; Nagel 1998). This design uses the goals of the policy as the guiding evaluation standard. It looks at the characteristics of the problem – for example, the magnitude, the frequency with which the problem occurs, or the costs due to the policy problem – before the policy is implemented. It then treats the implementation of the policy as the “interruption” due to treatment. Finally, it examines the outcomes of the policy – both the direct outcomes and the side effects. It then compares the postpolicy features of the problem to the prepolicy features.
While it is impossible to tell from this kind of analysis whether the policy what was actually applied was the “super optimal” one (Nagel 1998, 10-12), other – quite significant – observations can be made. First, it is possible to say whether and to what extent the policy that was applied accomplished its goals. Second, it is possible to evaluate the extent to which the postpolicy features of the problems were reduced in comparison to the prepolicy features. Third, the analysis of side effects can tell us a great deal about the extent of the decision makers’ foresight and about other outcomes of the policy that can serve as additional – exogenous – criteria for evaluating the policy.
We cannot say what would have happened to the problem if no policy or an alternative policy had been implemented. But we can glean from these observations other conclusions about the quality of the policy. First, we know that there is something problematic about the policy if it did not accomplish its objectives. If the magnitude, severity, frequency, or costs of the problem after the implementation of the policy are similar to or higher than the same features of the problem before the policy was implemented, then we can reasonably argue that the policy was problematic. Finally, even if the policy remedied some aspects of the original problem but - at the same time – generated adverse side effects, then the policy is problematic. Thus, the direct benefits of a given policy must be analysed in relation to its side effects.
When a policy accomplished its professed goals, and when some or all of the features of the problem are redressed by the policy, a positive evaluation cannot be ruled out even if they may be a more efficient and effective alternative policy. Thus, in both cases – when the policy seems to have accomplished its objectives and when it did not – it is possible to make at least a limited assessment of the value of the policy.
So when looking at an event – such as a War – or a policy – such as Nuclear Policy or Peace diplomacy – from an evaluative perspective, we need to identify several elements.
i) The nature of the problem and its features.
What were the key problems that the decision makers faced? Answering this question not only requires examining how the decision makers perceived the problem (as one would attempt if one wanted to conduct historical or analytical research that attempts to explain how a policy was selected) but also requires exploring the “objective” features of the problem. Sometimes there may be a gap between the decision maker’s understanding of the problem and the actual parameters of the policy dilemma. Problematic policies may be selected because decision makers think they want to resolve a problem whose features are rather different from the ones they need to address. Such gaps often results in adverse side effects of the policy that is eventually selected. Understanding the problem requires examining its key parameters. How severe was the problem? With what frequency did it occur? What kind of damage or what extent of cost did it inflict on the decision makers (or, in our case, on the State of Israel)? What were the expected implications of the problem if it were not addressed?
In the realm of Politics in general, and in Foreign and Security Policy-making in particular, understanding problems strictly in terms of what decision makers say they are may be misleading. Very often decision makers frame problems in ways that are convenient for them, hiding features of the problem that they do not feel comfortable verbalising. For example, decision makers very rarely admit that they applied public policies to address domestic political problems (such as slippage in polls and pressure from interest groups). So, the problem identification stage must go beyond the decision maker’s account; we must probe deeper into the context in which the policy arises and apply objective criteria to evaluate policy problems.
ii) The objectives of the decision makers.
Beyond the stated objectives of a given policy, we need to go below the verbal surface to identify hidden goals and agendas that affect policy selection. The policy objectives are clearly the benchmark against which the outcomes of the policy must be evaluated. Therefore, hidden objectives are important parameters that need to be identified. Sometimes decision makers may continue to pursue policies that do not appear to resolve the publicly stated problems and that do not accomplish their professed goals. They might do it because the policy seems to be effective in addressing hidden goals and to resolve unstated problems.
iii) The Logic connecting the specific policy to the – stated and unstated – objectives.
We must understand just how the policy was supposed to accomplish the – explicit and hidden – objectives set forth by the decision makers. If we cannot stipulate a logical connexion between a given policy and stated objectives, it is possible that this policy was supposed to address hidden objectives. The opposite, however, is not necessarily true. There may be a straightforward logical connexion between a policy and a set of explicitly stated goals. This does not preclude the presence of a hidden agenda. Therefore, we must be careful to articulate all possible connexions between the policy and the objectives of the decision makers. This allows us to trace decision makers’ expectations from a given policy. This should help us connect the policy to its intended and unintended outcomes. Policy outcomes that are not in line with these expectations are treated as side effects.
iv) The process of policy implementation.
Very often there exist gaps between the intended and actual implementation of policies, even at the most crucial moments in a nation’s life (Allison and Zelikow 1999, 158-60). The road to the public policy hell may be paved with particularly good intentions, much more so than in other areas. Therefore, it is important to separate poor policy planning and policy design from poor policy implementation. In strategic studies, the Clausewitzian concept of “friction” refers to factors operating beyond the control of the decision makers, which may affect the outcome of the decision. A good policy takes friction into account, but no matter how well a policy is designed it cannot foresee or take account of all friction-related problems. Thus, it is important to separate policy problems that result from unanticipated friction from problems that result from poor planning or poor implementation.
It is also important to separate policy problems from paradoxes (Maoz 1990b, 9-21). In a policy context, a paradox is defined as “a causally-induced contradiction between expectations and the consequences of behaviour resulting from them” (13). This means that a policy that is tailored to generate outcomes that are in line with a set of expectations produces contradictory results. The key feature of paradoxes is that they are typically unsolvable; decision makers cannot afford to pursue different policies even if they know that the consequences of the policies they do pursue are the opposite of those they want to accomplish. To avoid paradoxes, decision makers need to revise the entire logical system upon which a policy relies – including reassessment of their objectives, the underlying assumptions, and the logical connexions between goals and policies. Implementations of a policy that is paradoxical in nature would yield adverse results almost by definition. Identifying a paradoxical policy is therefore an important issue in evaluating it.
v) Analysis of direct outcomes and side effects.
Identifying the outcomes of the policy is probably the most important operation of the evaluation process. Part of this step is straightforward: policy outcomes are defined in terms of the parameters of the problem that the policy was designed to solve and in terms of the policy objectives. Did the policy reduce the manifestation of the problem, its magnitude, severity, or frequency? Did the policy accomplish the goals it was designed to achieve? This, in essence, is the before-after comparison. Positive results – that is, the parameters of the problem after the implementation of the policy are less severe than before – suggest that the policy was not a bad one. It may not have been the best policy (because we did not compare its results to the results of other policies that have not been applied), but it certainly is not a deficient policy. Likewise, if the before-after comparison yields negative results – the policy did not accomplish its objectives or the parameters of the problem did not change for the better or have ever gotten worse – then the policy is problematic. This is so even though it may have been a better policy than any conceivable alternative.
Side effects are more difficult to identify and evaluate. It is more difficult to establish a direct connexion between a given outcome and a policy if this outcome was not part of the problem that the policy was supposed to address. Likewise, if a given outcome is not a direct part of the intended policy objectives, it is not immediately obvious that it was affected by the policy. Nevertheless, in many situations it is possible to identify a causal link between a policy and an outcome, even if it had not been intended. This is so if policymakers or scholars who study the policy establish such a link in their statements and writings. In this case, the evaluation is done in terms of the effect this outcome has on the general goals of the decision makers. An outcome may be termed good or bad not in terms of the direct objectives assigned to the policy (otherwise it would not be identified as a side effect); rather, it may be evaluated in terms of more general objectives, such as Security, Peace, Welfare, and economic stability.
The key problem in this analysis of outcomes concerns possible discrepancies between the direct outcomes of the policy and its side effects. If the direct outcomes and the side effects of the policy point to the same direction (both are positive and both are negative), then this problem of evaluating this policy does not arise. Yet, in many cases, a policy may have positive results, in that it accomplishes its goals and/or remedies the problem it was designed to solve. At the same time it generates side effects that are negative. Conversely, a policy may have negative results in terms of the problems it was designed to solve, but it has positive side effects. How do we evaluate the outcomes of this policy? There is no simple answer to that question. Any physician who prescribes a medicine that has side effects needs to grapple with this kind of dilemma. The rule of thumb in this kind of situation is to prescribe the less damaging treatment overall. If the direct outcomes of a policy were more substantial in terms of their impact on the goals of the decision makers than the side effects, then the direct outcomes offset the side effects. And if the side effects were more substantial than the direct outcomes, then the side effects offset the direct outcomes. The idea then is to subtract the value of the side effects from the value of the direct results of the policy. Net evaluation therefore is based on this difference between direct and indirect policy outcomes (weighted – of course – by the relative importance of each of the policy outcomes.)
vi) Assessment of general tendencies and trends.
Since I am concerned here with several policy issues, I identify common denominators across different policies. While the evaluation is done with respect to each policy taken in isolation, I identify common patterns across policies. If such common denominators exist, and if they are related to common policy problems, then we may well be dealing with structural policy hazards. A remedy for a given policy would probably not be effective as a systemic corrective Mechanism; the system as a whole must be somehow reformed. If, however, no general trend exists, then each set of problems on a given policy requires a specific solution that is custom tailored to the specific issue area in which they arise.
This approach could be applied systematically if a policy is in place for a long time and if it is applied in a fairly consistent manner. Several policies that are discussed in this book render themselves to a more analytic application of such an evaluation: Israel’s Nuclear Policy, Israel’s use of limited Force, Israel’s Peace diplomacy, and Israel’s covert intervention in Arab affairs. In other cases a more limited evaluation will be attempted, because policies have been more ad hoc in nature and their results differed from one case to another. Nevertheless, the general approach outlined previously will be applied to all policies and events discussed in this book. In some cases – for example, in the case of Israeli covert diplomacy of intervention in the internal affairs of Arab States or in the case of Israel’s Peace diplomacy – I will offer specific evaluation criteria as I discuss these policies.
4.2. The Strategic perspective versus the historical perspective
I have already mentioned briefly the differences between the strategic perspective and the historical perspective, but it is important to elaborate on the general approach I take in this study. We must differentiate the strategic approach I take in this study. We must differentiate the strategic approach from the historical perspective that many analysts have used, even when their studies attempted explanation rather than description. The strategic approach that I employ in this study uses History in a somewhat roundabout and perhaps devious manner. Historians attempt to understand what happened in terms of the perspective of the participants in the events and processes they study. In a manner of speaking, a good historian identifies with his or her characters. The better the ability to identify and “enter into the mind” of one’s characters, the more accurate and genuine the historical account. For a historian there is no counterfactual Reality (except if the characters had considered alternative Realities in their discussions and writings); he or she sees only what the characters taking part in the events saw.
A good historian does not judge his or her characters; he or she must understand them. This is so even if the values, visions, aspirations, and beliefs of the characters are fundamentally different from those of the historian. A good historical analysis is not only one in which the cast of characters is authentic; it is one that captures the “spirit of the time,” the mood, the mentality, the way of thinking, and the social atmosphere that engulfs the characters. In a manner of speaking, a good historian creates both authentic characters and authentic scenes. It is typically not acceptable to judge characters in terms of values, principles, and standards that are not part of the period or of the environment in which they lived and operated. A good historical analysis may be critical of the characters included in it. However, this criticism must be based on an understanding of the beliefs, values, and information available to the characters and on the spirit of the time. The principal goal of the historian is to understand what happened and why.
In contrast, the principal goal of the strategist is to derive lessons from what has happened in the past in order to improuve or change behaviour in the future. The strategist plays the role of a monday morning quarterback or of a coach who looks at a video of a football game to learn the mistakes of the teams. The strategist attempts to understand not only what the cast of characters knew, believed, thought, and wanted and how these things were translated into action. He or she must also understand what it was they should have known, how they should have considered their Reality, and how they should have acted. The strategist must impose the wisdom of hindsight to derive lessons, thus constantly criticising, judging, and evaluating the actual behaviour of the characters.
The historian’s insights can extend only as far as the documents allow him or her to go. He or she is not supposed to make inferences on the basis of things that were not said or written. The strategist cannot work without written or verbal documentation of events, but he or she is not bound by them. Strategic analysis requires moving beyond the available documentation; it requires making inferences on the basis of the evidence that goes beyond the evidence. The strategist must figure out not only what happened but also what did not happen and what should or could have happened had people acted differently. The historian cannot be diverted by counterfactuals; the strategist cannot do without them. Clearly, the task of the strategist is far more complicated and tricky than that of the historian, because the strategist must impose some basic assumptions in the analysis that the historians need not use. For example, strategic analysis must rely on the assumption of rationality. This does not mean that strategists assume that political and military decision makers are invariably rational. Rather, strategists must assume that rationality is a normative benchmark for evaluating actual behaviour (Maoz 1990b, 5-6, 327-29). Examining actual behaviour in terms of whether and to what extent it deviated from what should have been the rational behaviour helps the strategist in the task of policy evaluation. It serves as a foundation for policy prescriptions that are based on the analysis of historical events and processes.
Finally, for the historian time moves in a linear sequence, from the more remote past to the more recent past (and in some cases to the present). The timeline of the historical narrative is an important element in the explanation of events; the order of things is a key determinant of cause and effect. For the strategist, the order of things may sometimes be reversed. Very often, the last event is the first thing that the strategist examines, because this tends to be the outcome, just as the end of the game is the starting point of the coach’s or the analyst’s examination. The strategist often works backward, from the last to the first event. The portrayal of events, the linkages between them, and the outcomes to which they lead may often be used by the strategist to uncover unseen patterns, goals, considerations, and complex – sometimes paradoxical – relationships between intentions and outcomes. In some of the chapters, I challenge the more conventional explanations of certain historical events by using this kind of approach. I show that it is unlikely that decision makers pursued certain goals or strategies – typically attributed to them in historical anlysis – given the kind of behaviour they displayed. Starting from these discrepancies, I reconstruct different goals or strategies that make more sense given the observed behaviour, and I show a better consistency between these hidden goals or agendas and behavioural patterns.
Embedding an evaluative perspective within a strategic conception make this study particularly complex and controversial. I evaluate several things that are bound to raise questions. First, I question the goals of the decision makers. Historians that rely solely on available documentation may miss some hidden goals because they are not expressed in writing or in oral addresses. The strategic approach and the assumption of some level of rationality – at least in the sense that decision makers consistently try to match policy with some objectives – establish some logical grounds by which I can challenge expressed motives and goals in a way that historians might find it difficult to do. Second, I question the notion of uniqueness of explanations. The fact that a given behaviour has a good explanation in terms of the prevailing circumstances and the ad hoc Calculus of decision makers does not make this explanation sufficient or even best. If a pattern of behaviour is repeated across issue areas and circumstances, then a more general explanation is required. Of course, not all behaviour assumes generalisable patterns. And even things that may appear to be part of a pattern may be just a random set of discrete events. But there is reason to suggest that patterns are observed due to some more general processes and considerations. In trying to trace patterns and explain them in more general terms I depart from the historical analysis yet again by building bridges across events, issue areas, policy domains, and time periods. These bridges allow me to make some general observations about the structure and process of Israel’s national Security and Foreign Policy. Hopefully, these observations, even if they turn out to be controversial, may inspire debate and discussion among both interested observers and professional participants.
A word about data sources is essential. The study relies on a number of data sets that were compiled by the project Quantitative History of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (QHAIC), which I developed when I served as head of the Jaffee Center of Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University. Additional data that I have used are referenced by their sources. Much of the actual material I use and most of the discussion in the book are based on historical material, primary and secondary sources. The nature of the issues I discuss in this book is such that the analysis is necessarily case based and qualitative. In some instances, however, I rely on quantitative data. These data help shed more systematic light on the substantive points that are based on a more traditional qualitative analysis. More sophisticated analyses of some of the policies discussed in this book will appear in journal articles.
A final methodological note concerns objectivity. Readers of the following chapters will undoubtedly discover that Israeli policies are sharply criticised. Evidence of both deliberate aggressive designs and deficient policies that are due to incompetence and folly is amply provided in the following pagees. Since much of the book is centered on the Arab-Israeli conflict, one may justly ask, What about the Arabs? Isn’t it possible that, however problematic Israel’s policies have been, much of what happened over the course of the Arab-Israeli conflict is due to far more incompetent, aggressive, and short-sighted policies of the Arab States and the Palestinians? It is impossible to provide a truly objective evaluation of Israel’s policies without addressing the interactions between these policies and the policies employed by the Arab States and the Palestinians. A book that evaluates just Israeli policies without attempting to evaluate the other side is not only unfair; it is scientifically suspicious because it provides a one-sided picture of Reality.
There is no question – at least in my mind – that the Arabs have been far more incompetent, short sighted, and malicious than have been the Israelis. In fact, I repeatedly make this argument throughout the book. In chapter 13, I show the effect of the malice, folly, and incompetence of Arab leaders on Arab States and Societies and argue that much of Israel’s success in State building was due to Arab folly and incompetence. This, however, does not diminish the responsibility of Israel for its own policies. On the contrary, it makes Israel’s mistakes more pronounced. It is one thing to make bad Security policy when you confront a highly competent and resourceful adversary. In such cases, at least some of the blame can be attributed not to your incompetence but to the adversary’s behaviour. But if policies are bad in the face of incompetent adversaries, then there is something seriously wrong with them. Playing against a strong and competent football team with a strong defence would cause even a highly skilled offence to fumble the ball or be intercepted. A good offence on the opponent side would penetrate even a competent defensive side. Yet, fumbling the ball and throwing interceptions against a weak defence or letting a weak offensive rival gain significant yardage suggests significant problems in one’s game, even if our side won.
More important, Arab mistakes do not explain why Israeli policies were deficient across so many issue areas and why these deficient policies are not fixed and thus recur despite clearly adverse results. I will come back to these points towards the end of the book. At this point, however, it is important to acknowledge the limitation of this analysis – due to its focus on Israeli policies and its limited treatment of Arab policies. It is also imperative that we make it clear that Arab folly cannot absolve Israeli decision makers from responsibility for their mistakes and for repeating these mistakes so many times and across so many issues.
5. An Overview of the book
This book focuses on several key questions that address various aspects of Israel’s Security and Foreign Policy.
i) What are the key characteristics of the Israeli use of - massive and limited – force? What were the objectives underlying the policies of military force? What functions did various strategies of using Force serve? have the objectives of various strategies of high-intensity conflict and LIC been accomplished? What accounts for the pattern and outcome of Israeli strategies of using military Force?
ii) What were the goals of Israel’s Nuclear Policy? What was the underlying strategic Logic behind the development of Israel’s nuclear weapons and the policy of nuclear ambiguity? To what extent where these goals accomplished? What are the – intended and unintended – strategic implications of this policy?
iii) What is the pattern of Israeli covert and overt intervention in the internal affairs of the Arab States and the Palestinians? What functions were these interventions intended to serve? Did they accomplish their intended objectives?
iv) What are the principal characteristics of Israel’s Peace diplomacy over time? Has Israel – as its leaders claimed – persistently extended its hand for Peace only to be repeatedly rejected by the Arabs? Has Israel been as daring in its Peace diplomacy as it has been in its military strategy, or has Israel been risk averse when it comes to negotiating Peace agreements that entail Security risks? What factors account for the principal characteristics of Israel’s policy?
v) Are there structural similarities across different areas of policy? Are the key patterns of the Israeli use of Force and their underlying reasons similar to those that characterise Israel’s overt and covert diplomacy? Are there structural factors that explain similar patterns of behaviour in different areas of policy? If so, what are these factors?
vi) If significant problems are identified in Israel’s national Security and Foreign Policy, how can we account for Israel’s successful performance in military, economic, and social affairs despite enormous Security challenges?
vii) What are the implications of these patterns in Israel’s national Security and Foreign Policy for the future of the Middle East and for Israel’s place in the region?
The book is divided into five parts that address these questions. Part I – the present chapter – lays out the foundations of the analysis. What follows is a brief outline of the contents and key themes of this book.
5.1. Part II: The Use of force
Part II discusses the Logic, pattern, process, and implications of the Israeli use of Force over time. The major theme is that most of the Wars in which Israel was involved were the result of deliberate Israeli aggressive design, flawed decision making, or flawed conflict management strategies or were avoidable. Israel’s War Experience is a story of folly, recklessness, and selfmade traps. None of the Wars – with a possible exception of the 1948 War of Independence – was what Israel refers to as Milhemet ein Brerah (“war of necessity”). They were all Wars of choice or Wars of folly. Israel’s limited use of Force strategy emphasised escalation dominance and excessive Force. This policy was also largely ineffective. In some cases it caused major escalation, while in other cases it did not prevent Terrorism or LIC. Despite this tragic Experience, no self-inspection took place in Israeli Security Policy. Many cases of both high-intensity conflict and LIC were due to mismanagement at both the military and the political level, reflected lack of proper political oversight over the actions of the IDF, and avoided a sober assessment of the benefits and liabilities of the excessive reliance on military Force to manage the conflict with the Arabs.
Chapter 2 examines the origins of the 1956 Sinai War. This War was the result of the persistent drive of Ben-Gurion and Dayan to a second confrontation with the Arabs. The Sinai War was unavoidable because Israel sought every avenue to start a War. Domestic opposition – principally Moshe Sharett – prevented the initiation of a War sooner. Once Sharett was remouved from office, there was no domestic opposition to the War coalition in the Cabinet and the IDF. Nasser helped Israel by providing it with both a strategic pretext (i.e., the Egyptian-Soviet weapons deal of September 1955) and a diplomatic pretext (i.e., the nationalisation of the Suez Canal on 26 July 1956) that enabled the collusion with France and Britain. The aim of the War was none of the official reasons given by Israel. Rather, it had been the overthrow of Nasser and the rearrangement of the Middle East. In this regard, the operation backfired.
Chapter 3 focuses on the causes and course of the Six Day War of 1967. It discusses three “conventional” explanations of the outbreak of the Six Day War. The domestic Politics explanation focuses on internal determinants of the israeli, syrian, and egyptian policies that brought about the crisis and led to its escalation. The inadvertent War explanation focuses on the dynamics of mutual deterrence and crisis management that have been applied to avoid War but have backfired. The psychological slippery slope explanation focuses on the emotional and cognitive aspects of crisis decision making in Cairo and in Jerusalem, arguing that stress, wishful thinking, and misperception drove the parties into a War nobody wanted. In contrast to these explanations, I argue that the origins of the War can be found in Israeli adventurist policy vis-à-vis Syria, the lack of proper political control over the military, and domestic political competition in Israel. These same factors put enormous pressure on the Government during the crisis and the War itself, bringing about a process of unwanted escalation and expansion of the War beyond the original intentions of the political elites. The implications of these events have been far reaching in terms of the Arab-Israeli conflict to the very day.
Chapter 4 examines the War of Attrition of 1969-70. It traces the origins of the War to two principal factors: the Israeli decision to deploy its forces on, and prohibit shipping in, the Suez Canal and the lack of interest in a political settlement following the Arab summit in Khartoum. Despite the fact that Nasser did plan for and consciously decided on a War of attrition by mid-1968, Israel’s deployment along the canal and its excessive use of Force caused this War to exact heavy costs from both Israel and Egypt and brought Israel to a head-on collision with Soviet soldiers, eventually driving it to an uneasy cease-fire. In this chapter I also evaluate the Israeli policy of deep penetration bombing in the context of the prevalent tendency of Israeli strategy to overreact to uses of Force by the Arabs. I argue that this approach was especially self-deceiving. Not only did it cause major escalation of the War, but it also generated a false sense that this campaign compelled Egypt into accepting the cease-fire, thereby enhancing Israeli deterrence. In fact, it caused just the opposite.
Chapter 5 examines the 1973 Yom Kippur War. [The day of atonement.] If there was an unnecessary and avoidable War in the Middle East, the Yom Kippur War was it. This is a prime example of where a little bit of diplomatic foresight and a little less political and military arrogance could have prevented the most severe War in the Middle East since 1948. This chapter does not discuss the diplomatic fiasco in failing to prevent the War (this is discussed in chap. 10). Rather, it focuses on the confusion and mismanagement of Israeli military strategy after the War of Attrition. The leading theme in the extant literature on the War is that the key folly in this War, from an Israeli perspective, was a major intelligence failure. In contrast, I argue that the key Israeli faults were in trying to fight the old War under entirely different strategic, topographic, and political conditions. The IDF failed in understanding the doctrine of the egyptians and syrians, failed to apply its own operational plans, and misused its air Force during the first few days of the War. Had it not been for major political blunders by the egyptian and syrian leaders and for the support of the United States, Israel would have suffered a humiliating defeat. Even so, the costs of War were far higher than they should have been had Israel used its strategy properly and its forces effectively.
Chapter 6 focuses on Israel’s Invasion of Lebanon and the long-term Occupation of parts of this country over the 1982-2000 period. This War was the outgrowth of a grand design of Ariel Sharon that sought to kill four birds with one War: first, to destroy the political and military capacity of the  (PLO) so as to kill nationalist Palestinian sentiments in the West Bank and Gaza Strip; second, to humiliate and defeat the syrian Forces in Lebanon and to drive them out of that country; third, to create a christian-dominated State in Lebanon that would, forth, sign a Peace treaty with Israel. I trace the evolution of the grand scheme from its beginning to the tragic conclusion of the unilateral Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon in May 2000. I examine the manner in which Sharon manipulated the Cabinet as well as the entire Israeli Society into a deep and long-lasting trap. I analyse the process of entrapment in the lebanese swamp and the establishment of the Security zone in southern Lebanon. This process of entrapment was facilitated by the evolution of an Ideology led by the IDF regarding the strategic importance of the Security zone. Finally, I discuss how a process started by a nonpartisan group of Knesset members, as well as a small pressure group of several women, brought about a withdrawal from Lebanon despite the resistance of the IDF. I examine why the political and social systems of oversight and control failed to save Israel from the long-term proceess of entrapment and the repeated military failures in Lebanon.
Chapter 7 examines the strategic and tactical Logic of (Israel’s) neverending struggle against terrorists and guerillas. [It’s a part of imperialmentality that it doesn’t fucking register.] It focuses on several facets of this policy: limited military actions against Arab States, LIC in a context of guerilla War, the struggle against Terrorism, and strategies for dealing with mass protests by Palestinians. I first discuss the evolution Israel’s limited conflict strategies over time. On the basis of this discussion the chapter offers a critical examination of the effectiveness of these policies and their political, Moral, and strategic ramifications. I argue that many of these policies have been notoriously unsuccessful yet most of them continue to be employed by force of inertia. The most effective measures were the least popular ones, and the most popular measures, which entailed excessive use of Force and punishment, turned out to be the least effective ones. I examine the different functions of limited use of Force policies, arguing that in many cases limited Force strategies were used to foster escalation and to bring about high-intensity shooting Wars. In other cases, the mismanagement of limited engagements resulted in inadvertent escalation to full-blown Wars. The factors that motivated Israeli uses of limited Force were varied, and many of them involved domestic political and social considerations.
5.2. Part III: Israel’s nuclear policy
Chapter 8 evaluates Israeli Nuclear Policy from its inception to the present. Most students of this policy rated it as an unqualified strategic success. Specifically, the policy is is said to have effectively deterred an all-out Arab attack, while the posture of nuclear ambiguity allowed Israel to maintain strong strategic ties with the United States and to fend off pressures for joining the  (NPT) regime. In addition, the policy is said to have generated two positive side effects. First, it is thought to have effected a shift in Arab operational planning from general to limited war scenarios. Second, it is considered to have been instrumental in bringing the Arab States to direct negotiations and to Peace agreements with Israel.
My analysis suggests that the evidence upon which these arguments rely is tenuous at best. Israel’s Nuclear Policy did not deter the Arabs from attacking it; nor is there evidence that it imposed limitations on Arab operational planning. Finally, both Israel’s cumulative conventional deterrence and – more important – increased Israeli flexibility following the Yom Kippur War were far more significant factors in the Arab-Israeli Peace process than Israel’s Nuclear Policy. On the other hand, Israel’s Nuclear Policy had several adverse side effects. First, it was a major factor in accelerating a conventional arms race and in igniting a nonconventional arms race in the Middle East. Second, the regime of secrecy surrounding it prevents an open and reasoned debate about its stabilising and destabilising features. In sum, the balance sheet of Israel’s Nuclear Policy appears to be negative rather than positive. In light of this evidence I argue that Israel should use its Nuclear Policy as an important bargaining chip in bringing about a weapons of mass destruction free zome (WMDFZ) in the Middle East, in the context of a comprehensive regional security regime.
5.3. Part IV: Foreign Policy: Shadow and open diplomacy
Chapter 9 examines Israeli intervention in intra-Arab affairs. Israeli intervention in the internal affairs of other Arab States and the Palestinians has been quite frequent and has taken on many forms over the years. Yet this policy has not been systematically explored within the more general context of this nation’s Security Policy. The chapter reviews the Logic underlying the policy of clandestine and overt intervention in the internal affairs of Arab States. It examines the History of these efforts since the 1953-54 “mishap” – the activation of a spy network in Egypt in an effort to sabotage the British intention to pull its forces from Egypt – to the efforts to suppress Hamas following the Oslo Accords (1993-2000). I review the underlying Logic of action in each of these cases and the implications of interventionist policies for Israeli-Arab relations and for Israel’s Security. The argument is that this interventionist policy was pursued persistently despite the fact that noe one instance contributed significantly to Israel’s Security. On the contrary, in most cases the policy of intervention backfired, damaging Israeli-Arab relations, and even resulted in unintended consequences directly opposite to those intended. The implications of these arguments for Israel’s future Security policy are examined in the concluding section.
Chapter 10 examines Israeli Peace diplomacy as a series of missed opportunities. I argue that over time Israel was as responsible for the lack of Peace with Arab States as were the Arabs themselves. In the process, Israel has been gradually been forced to accept agreements that it could have accepted at lower cost and under better terms than it did eventually. I review a number of Peace-related opportunities ranging from the Zionist-Hashemite collusion in 1947 through the collapse of the Oslo process in 2000. In all those cases I find that Israeli decision makers – who had been willing to embark upon bold and daring military adventures – were extremely reluctant to make even the smallest concessions for peace, sometimes insisting on minor and insignificant issues to the point where such stubborn positions brought about the collapse of carefully designed Peace processes. I also find that in many cases Israel was engaged in systematic violations of agreements and tacit understandings between itself and its neighbours. The factors that are responsible for those missed opportunities are largely the same as those responsible for those missed opportunities are largely the same as those responsible for all other aspects of Israeli policies: structural barriers that accord to military considerations a significant priority over diplomatic ones, fundamental psychological barriers that cause both leaders and the public to vacillate between paranoia and arrogance, improvisation at the expense of strategic thinking, lack of political control over military strategy, and the excessive influence of Militarisme on Israeli diplomatic thinking.
5.4. Part V: Causes and implications of the mismanagement of national Security and Foreign Policy
Chapter 11 analyses the structural aspects of Foreign and Security Policy-making in Israel as one of the central explanations of the patterns of Israeli policymaking in national Security and Foreign affairs. I focus on the effect of formal and informal structural factors on the making of Israel’s policy. Security Policy has consistently dominated Foreign Policy. In virtually every major decision process, Security considerations superseded diplomatic considerations. The only organisation with a discipline of staff work is the IDF. All other organisation with a discipline of staff work is the IDF. All other organisations involved in the making of Foreign and Security Policy – the Foreign Ministry, the Defence Minsitry, and even the Treasury (which has a very effective staff on every subject except defence matters) – have traditionally relied on the IDF staff work. I examine the formal and informal Mechanisms that are supposed to oversee and evaluate national Security Policy, including the Knesset, the judiciary, and the National Security Council (NSC), and find that they have consistently failed in their mission.
The dominance of the Security establishment in Israeli political affairs is reviewed through the analysis of the excessive involvement of former military personnel in almost every aspect of Israeli political, social, and economic life. An “old boys’ network’ was formed within the Israeli political elite, composed of former Generals who have entered political life across the entire left-right continuum. Despite the significant political and Ideological differences among its members, this network is characterised by a shared set of basic political and military beliefs – which largely follow Ben-Gurion’s strategic Philosophy. Most of them accept the important role of the IDF in Israeli Society; they generally support a fairly free hand to the IDF on budgetary and  (R&D) matters, as well as on matters of deterrence and the development and acquisition of WMDs. Efforts at establishing informal institutions that would oversee Security and Foreign Policy, or that would offer an alternative public discourse of these policies, have been largely unsuccessful. This chapter sums up the structural implications of the empirical analyses in parts II-IV of the book and concludes that the basic rigidity of Israeli Security and Foreign Policy will continue as long as no fundamental shift takes place in the formal and informal structure of the machinery that produces such policies.
Chapter 12 reviews the findings of the study. It examines how plausible the axioms were that form the basis of Israel’s Security doctrine and the basic tenets of this doctrine that were outlined in this present chapter. It examines how plausible the axioms were that form the basis of Israel’s Security doctrine and the basic tenets of this doctrine that were outlined in this present chapter. It lays out the key problems we have uncovered in Israel’s Security and Foreign Policy. On the basis of these findings, the chapter concludes by discussing possible reforms in the structure, process, and substance of Israeli Foreign and Security regime that may move Israel toward a more rational and adaptive future.
Chapter 13 examines a key puzzle that emerges from this critical analysis of Israel’s national Security and Foreign Policy. An objective view of basic data concerning Israel would almost certainly describe the country as an unqualified success story: It started out as a Society of about 650.000 jews and was born into a War that killed 1 percent of its Jewish population. Over time, however, Israel increased its population tenfold and was converted into a modern democratic, economically prosperous, militarily powerful, and technologically sophisticated Society. Israel won four major Wars against considerably more powerful enemies. Its per capita income is four times the average per capita income in the Middle East. Its armed Forces are considered to be among the most efficient and powerful of all the world’s Armies. And it was able to maintain an open, democratic, and pluralistic political community in spite of the external threats. Yet the book’s argument is that Israeli Security and Foreign Policy has had numerous problems, that it has been run by many incompetent individuals and rigid organisations, and that this rigid structure has been responsible for quite a few fiascos and has generated many unintended results that carried significant ramifications. If that is the case, then how can we account for the Israeli success story?
The answer to this question is threefold. First, despite numerous blunders, Israel was able to flourish because its opponents were far less competent – or far more incompetent and corrupt – than the Israeli elite. While the Israeli elite used the Arab-Israeli conflict as a Mechanism for State building and social integration within a democratic system, Arab elites used the Arab-Israeli conflict as a Mechanism for maintaining authoritarian control and for perpetuating social and economic underdevelopment. Even the more progressive and daring Arab leaders in terms of Arab-Israeli Peace (e.g., Sadat, Hassan of Morocco, King Hussein of Jordan, and Yasir Arafat) have maintained a closed, highly hierarchical, and largely corrupt political and economic system, thus preventing it from properly reaping the economic and social fruits of Peace. This duality has exacerbated the political and economic problems of the Arab regimes, thus rendering the Israeli success story especially spectacular in comparison to the Poverty, Corruption, underdevelopment, and lack of political and social Freedom in the Arab world.
Second, for much of Israel’s History, continued conflict with the Arabs had important benefits for the development of the country. It enabled the ruling elite to use – and even to cultivate – the state of continued conflict as a Mechanism for forging a fairly unified Society and to use the IDF as a basic Mechanism for socialisation and politicisation of the Israeli public. It also allowed this elite to shove under the rug a large number of social, economic, and ethnic problems that arose from the immigrant and multiethnic structure of the Society. The continued state of conflict allowed the elite to extract extremely high material and human resources for national goals from the population and to justify policies of exploitation on the one hand and of selective Preferentialism on thhe other. However, when the costs of conflict became too high to absorb, the elites shifted toward more peaceful policies. Once the Peace process started, many underlying social and political tensions began to surface. With the economic benefits of Peace came the social, economic, and political calls for Equality among different Israeli sectors as well as among Arab Jews.
Third, a deeper examination of the “Israeli success story” reveals not only that Israel’s economic, social, and educational performance was suboptimal but that it deteriorated over time. Israel’s economic growth is slow compared to both most advanced industrialised Societies and comparable Societies that also live under a severe Security threat – such as Taiwan, south Korea, and Singapore. Israel’s educational system is rapidly deteriorating at the elementary and secondary school levels. Israel’s infrastructure is also in a state of rapid decay. While there is clearly no direct effect of conflict on these processes of relative decline, the indirect effects are significant and increasing. This chapter explores the interrelationships between Security Policy and Social Policy in Israel and discusses the implications of the tensions between the two.
Chapter 14 concludes this study by offering an analysis of where Israel may be going in the future. It outlines four scenarios. These scenarios are neither mutually exclusive nor do they exhaust all possible worlds. The future may also entail sequential movement from one scenario to the other(s).
i) Escalation scenario
This scenario envisions a possible escalation and expansion of Israeli-Palestinian or Israeli-Syrian conflicts, the militarisation of conflicts between Israel and outer-ring States such as Iran, or the emergence of radical islamic regimes in one or more Israel’s immediate neighbours. A possible evolution of this kind would entail the outbreak of regional Wars and the possible use of WMDs. This scenario carries major adverse military, economic, social, and political consequences for States in the region and for the international community as a whole.
ii) Conflict unending scenario
This scenario envisions a continued state of conflict between Israel and its neighbours but one that simmers rather than explodes. Crises and possibly limited Wars may continue to erupt sporadically, with growing costs to both sides. Repeated clashes raise basic dilemmas and risks to all actors in the region, as well as to Europe, the United States, and east Asia, yet international efforts at resolving the conflict are unsuccessful.
iii) Cold Peace scenario
This scenario envisions limited and partial settlements between Israel and the Palestinians and/or between Israel and Syria and Lebanon. However, significant issues or other conflicts are not resolved. Other regional problems such as economic underdevelopment, demographic pressure, environmental decay (particularly water), regime stability, and arms control and regional Security agreements are not addressed. Each one of these issues may give rise to new conflicts that may either reopen underlying tensions or reverse previous Peace efforts.
iv) Regional Peace scenario
A comprehensive process of regional, bilateral, and domestic change takes place in the Middle East. This process entails resolution of most or all outstanding international conflict in the region. Regional and extraregional actors engage in a process of establishing a set of regional institutions designed to foster cooperation and joint problem solving on security, economic, social, and environmental affairs.
This chapter outlines the main characteristics of these scenarios, the conditions leading to each, and their implications for the region and for the international community. It also discusses the implications of each scenario for Israel’s Security and economic well-being. This chapter concludes by addressing how Israel could help avoid the more dangerous scenarios and increase the probability of the more favourable scenarios and identifies avenues of future research on Israel’s Security and Foreign Policy.