Militarism versus Security? The Double-Bind of Israel's Culture of Bereavement and Hierarchy of Sensitivity to Loss

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Abstract

Can there be any contradiction between militarism and security? This paper explores the implications of a derivative of cultural militarism in Israel - the panic set off by military casualties - and shows that it undermines the value of security and, in the process, prevents the army from providing civilians with security. Recent research into military policy and doctrine and conduct cites the phenomenon of phobia over losses, with accompanying moral panic, as a product of strategic culture. This approach contains a noteworthy paradox: military campaigns, whether proactive or defensive responses, tend to prioritize safeguarding soldiers' lives over those of the civilians they are committed to protect. This orientation has penetrated Israel's highest political and military echelons and reveals a remarkable reversal of values among the Israeli elite, that traditionally promoted heroism and sacrifice in the line of duty. An emergent strategic 'counter-culture' has appeared, seeking to liberate the current military policy from this paradox. In either paradigm, the article indicates culture rather than geostrategic interests as the key determining factor in forming military policy and conduct.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)365-384
Number of pages20
JournalMeditteranean Politics
Volume16
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 2011
Externally publishedYes

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