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And the Biggest Winner in the Arab Spring Is…Israel


Israel plans to restructure its military with an eye on new threats and fading risks from neighbors like Syria and Egypt, the WSJ reports:

Israel’s military plans to downsize its conventional firepower such as tanks and artillery to focus on countering threats from guerrilla warfare and to boost its technological prowess, in a recognition that the Middle East turmoil has virtually halted the ability of neighbors to invade for years to come….

The army plans to cut thousands of career officers, shut ground-force units, eliminate air-force squadrons, and decommission naval ships over a period of five years, said an Israeli army spokesman who declined to provide more details….

Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said in public remarks that the army plans to be less dependent on heavy armaments. “In another few years we will see a different” Israel Defense Forces, he said. “Wars of military versus military—in the format we last met 40 years ago, in the Yom Kippur War—are becoming less and less relevant.”

This “sea change” will increase Israel’s qualitative superiority. In the 21st century more than ever before, technology is becoming the most important element of military power, not how many 18 year olds can you deploy. That’s a big advantage for high-tech, low-population countries like Israel.

Here’s a related thought: Secretary Kerry’s peace mission to Israel and Palestine is in part based on the calculation that uncertainty and concerns about the consequences of the Arab Spring for regional security (especially the consequences of a more active Hezbollah) make Israel more amenable to US pressure and suggestions. But this WSJ piece suggests a different calculation: Israel’s defense establishment may actually feel that the effective destruction of the Syrian Army, the internal struggles in Iraq, and the preoccupation with domestic order in Egypt have neutralized the military power of Israel’s neighbors.

If so, Kerry may find it harder to trade US reassurances for Israeli concessions than he expected.

[John Kerry and Benjamin Netanyahu photo courtesy of Getty Images]

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  • עכברון

    This change in the strategic environment, may also undermine the argument of Netanyahu’s right-wing government, regarding the strategic importance of the West Bank.
    by that creating leeway for Secretary Kerry to Pressure Netanyahu on his strategic demands, or by contrast, expose that Netanyahu’s position is fundamentally ideological at first

  • Pait

    Well, if Israelis feel less threatened by their neighbors, they be more willing to give Palestinians the benefit of the doubt. And if Palestinians extremists have less support from outside, the government may be more willing to reach a compromise.

    Which would not be a bad consequence of the Arab spring. Except for those who only want Kerry to fail at whatever he is trying.

    • azt24

      The problem is that the Palestinian extremists = both Fatah and Hamas, and they have all the support in foreign aid they need to keep going indefinitely, without making any compromises.

  • ljgude

    I, for one, don’t hope Kerry fails – it wouldn’t occur to me, because I know he can’t succeed because the Palestinians have no intention of accepting a two state solution on any terms – only a one state solution ending with the elimination of Israel. My position has nothing to do with ideology – I can see the arguments that Israel has no right to exist and every right to exist. It just that for the foreseeable future there is no possibility of a two state solution. One side is interested in peace; the other isn’t. The destruction of Israel is certainly a possibility, and it is clear from what they say and do that the Palestinians believe they can eventually succeed. What is happening right now is that the Arabs are destroying themselves. It is painful to watch a once great civilization lash out in all directions and descend into civil war and starvation. Clinton came as close as anyone to making peace. Bush tried again and didn’t get anywhere. Kerry’s efforts will go nowhere. I like the picture – Kerry looking like he has just scored a touchdown, Netanyahu like he is cheerfully going through the motions.

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