Zion's Dilemmas: How Israel Makes National Security Policy
Cornell Studies in Security Affairs
Book, Cornell University Press
Author: Chuck Freilich, Senior Fellow, International Security Program
Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security
In Zion's Dilemmas, a former deputy national security adviser to the State of Israel details the history and, in many cases, the chronic inadequacies in the making of Israeli national security policy. Chuck Freilich identifies profound, ongoing problems that he ascribes to a series of factors: a hostile and highly volatile regional environment, Israel's proportional representation electoral system, and structural peculiarities of the Israeli government and bureaucracy.
Freilich uses his insider understanding and substantial archival and interview research to describe how Israel has made strategic decisions and to present a first of its kind model of national security decision-making in Israel. He analyzes the major events of the last thirty years, from Camp David I to the 1982 invasion of Lebanon, through Camp David II, the Gaza Disengagement Plan of 2000, and the second Lebanon war of 2006.
In these and other cases he identifies opportunities forgone, failures that resulted from a flawed decision-making process, and the entanglement of Israeli leaders in an inconsistent, highly politicized, and sometimes improvisational planning process. The cabinet is dysfunctional and Israel does not have an effective statutory forum for its decision-making—most of which is thus conducted in informal settings. In many cases policy objectives and options are poorly formulated. For all these problems, however, the Israeli decision-making process does have some strengths, among them the ability to make rapid and flexible responses, generally pragmatic decision-making, effective planning within the defense establishment, and the skills and motivation of those involved. Freilich concludes with cogent and timely recommendations for reform.
Author Chuck Freilich was interviewed about Zion's Dilemmas for the Jerusalem Post. Read the January 3, 2013, interview here: http://www.jpost.com/Features/FrontLines/Article.aspx?id=298360
Praise for Zion's Dilemmas:
"The extraordinarily important Zion's Dilemmas is the authoritative book on the making of Israel's national security policy. Charles D. Freilich lays out fundamental institutions of Israel's national security infrastructure, identifies five pathologies, and takes the reader through several cases of decision making around war, peace, and weapons procurement. Even the most knowledgeable student of Middle Eastern politics will learn from this thoroughly detailed and comprehensive book by an author with deep knowledge of Israel's politics."—Janice Gross Stein, Belzberg Professor of Conflict Management, University of Toronto, author of Street Protests and Fantasy Parks
"This book is a superb guide through the labyrinth of Israel's policymaking process, skillfully demonstrating how major decisions were taken at the most crucial historical junctures. The great advantage to the reader is that it was written by someone who has seen it all from the inside."—Ehud Yaari, Lafer International Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy
"This is a unique book providing deep insights into Israeli national security decision making. Synthesizing unusual personal knowledge with theoretical originality, Charles D. Freilich identifies and shows five main pathologies of Israeli security decision making in seven case studies of critical Israeli choices. On this basis a series of important improvement proposals are developed. Zion's Dilemmas is essential reading for all interested in Israeli statecraft, and also of profound significance for the comparative study of national security policies."—Yehezkel Dror, Professor Emeritus of Political Science, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem; author of Israeli Statecraft: National Security Challenges and Responses
"Illuminating insights into Israeli national security decision making from a former participant"—Graham Allison, Director of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs and Douglas Dillon Professor of Government at Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government
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Document Length: 336 pp.