Challenging Israel with attrition has been compatible with the 'Arab way of war', which emphasizes staying power, and with the belief that democracies cannot tolerate wars of attrition, either economically or psychologically. Israel for its part developed a self-image of incapacity to sustain prolonged wars, committing itself to a traditional offensive approach to blitzkrieg, whenever possible. The book offers an account of nine wars of attrition that Israel was involved in over almost 60 years, from Palestinian infiltration and fedayeen activities against Israel in the early 1950s, through to the Second Lebanon War in 2006. The author uses these cases to challenge the myth that Israel cannot afford to become involved in a draining war of attrition.
Focusing on central aspects typical of Western democracies engaged in wars of attrition – operational effectiveness; the societal staying power; the economic burden of the war; moral dilemmas; and conflict management problems - the book challenges the myth that Israel cannot afford to become involved in a draining war of attrition, while at the same time highlighting the fact that in its wars of attrition Israel has not always succeeded in avoiding undesired escalation.
This book will be of much interest to students of strategic studies, Israeli history, Middle Eastern politics, and security studies in general.
Avi Kober is a member of the Department of Political Studies at Bar Ilan University, Israel and is a Senior Research associate with the BESA Center for Strategic Studies.
Focusing primarily on deviations from the traditional norm of universal military service, the book compares the emergence of a new type of "citizen army" in Israel with the formats that have in recent decades become evident in other western democracies. In addition, these essays correct the conventional tendency to concentrate almost exclusively on the influences stimulating military institutional change in the West, and thereby to overlook the equally important factors that retard its momentum. By contrast, this volume deliberately highlights the brakes as well as the accelerators in current processes, thereby presenting a far more faithful picture of their complexity.
This book will be of much interest to students of Israeli politics, military studies, Middle Eastern politics, security studies and IR in general.
Stuart Cohen is a senior research associate of the BESA (Begin-Sadat) Center for Strategic Studies and also teaches political studies at Bar-Ilan University, Israel. His most recent book is Israel and its Army: From Cohesion to Confusion (Routledge, 2008).