Arab-Israeli Mil­i­tary Forces in an Era of Asym­met­ric Wars

Antho­ny H. Cordesman
  • Review
By – March 30, 2012
Antho­ny Cordes­man is one of the fore­most mil­i­tary ana­lysts of the ear­ly 21st cen­tu­ry: a retired U.S. Army gen­er­al, tele­vi­sion and radio com­men­ta­tor, and the author of more than a dozen books on inter­na­tion­al secu­ri­ty. He has already dealt with the Mid­dle East in detail in such works as The Mil­i­tary Bal­ance in the Mid­dle East (2004) and The Israeli-Pales­tin­ian War: Esca­lat­ing to Nowhere(2005). In his present book, Cordes­man seeks to assess the impact that America’s glob­al war on ter­ror­ism” has had in the Mid­dle East. Two issues are of par­tic­u­lar impor­tance: first, Cordes­man attempts to explain and con­tex­tu­al­ize the new tech­no­log­i­cal and doc­tri­nal per­spec­tives that sur­round what has come to be known as Fourth Gen­er­a­tion War­fare (also known as Net-Cen­tric War­fare) for Mid­dle East­ern armies. Sec­ond is the rise of a potent anti­dote to this new style of war­fare — known in mil­i­tary cir­cles as Asym­met­ri­cal War­fare, which uses irreg­u­lar forces, gueril­la tac­tics, and ter­ror­ism to counter the advan­tages of Net-Cen­tric mil­i­taries. Although the best exam­ple of this war­fare is in Iraq, com­bat in Lebanon and Gaza dur­ing the sum­mer of 2006 also falls into this cat­e­go­ry. Cordesman’s chap­ter on Israel is like­ly to be of spe­cial inter­est to read­ers of Jew­ish Book World. Cordes­man argues that Israelis are mak­ing a major error in try­ing to copy (on a small­er scale) the cur­rent ethos of the US mil­i­tary. The IDF, he writes, is erring in its Amer­i­can style focus on using high-tech equip­ment that lacks stay­ing pow­er in order to avoid casu­al­ties. Casu­al­ty avoid­ance in the short term gen­er­al­ly brings with it an avoid­ance of deci­sive mil­i­tary action that results in much greater casu­al­ties in the long term.
Abra­ham J. Edel­heit is an asso­ciate pro­fes­sor of his­to­ry at Kings­bor­ough Com­mu­ni­ty Col­lege (CUNY) and the author, co-author, or edi­tor of eleven books on the Holo­caust, Zion­ism, Jew­ish and Euro­pean his­to­ry, and Mil­i­tary affairs. His most recent pub­li­ca­tion appeared in Armor mag­a­zine, the offi­cial jour­nal of the US Army Armor and Cav­al­ry Command.

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