Dilemmas of Security: Politics, Strategy and the Israeli Experience in Lebanon

by Avner Yaniv

Book cover for Dilemmas of Security: Politics, Strategy and the Israeli Experience in Lebanon

"The war in Lebanon has been a moment of truth for the Israeli nation", Avner Yaniv writes. "It has led to tormenting soul searching, deep doubts, and for many Israelis even guilt." In Delemmas of Security, Yaniv provides the most comprehensive study to date of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon and its painful aftermath. It looks at what factors were involved in Israeli decision-making, shows who the actors were, and demonstrates how a hard "realpolitik" mentality shaped Israeli thinking. Drawing on extensive research and his own first-hand knowledge of how the Israeli government and military operate, Yaniv confronts the difficult questions that the Lebanese conflict and occupation have thrown into sharp relief. Why has Israel so often resorted to force to solve its problems? Is Israel still locked into the blunt mindset of its founding generation? Or is it merely reacting to a relentless, organized Arab drive to erase it from the map of the Middle East? Is Israeli behavior still largely shaped by a small group of decision-makers who are themselves conditioned by the memory of past Jewish traumas? Or is it more accurate to ascribe Israeli conduct to the response of decision-makers to a turbulent domestic environment? Or, finally, are not Israeli leaders reacting to a fundamental strategic dilemma that has haunted the state since its inception? Yaniv's search for answers is both broad and penetrating. After examining the fundamental sources of Israeli conduct, he moves into a detailed account of the Israeli encounter with Lebanon, tracing its origins and development from World War I to 1981. Then, in a detailed investigation of the war, he focuses on the agonizing interaction of strategic considerations with the complexities of the Israeli political system, showing how the turbulence of domestic politics affected critical decisions in a tragic way. He closes with a detailed analysis of the Israeli decision to withdraw from Lebanon. Issues running throughout the book include Israeli-Syrian relations, U.S.-Israeli relations, and the role of the PLO. Also discussed is the rise of the Shiite militants in south Lebanon.

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