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.