Confronting the Costs of War: Military Power, State, and Society in Egypt and Israel

Confronting the Costs of War: Military Power, State, and Society in Egypt and Israel

Confronting the Costs of War: Military Power, State, and Society in Egypt and Israel

Confronting the Costs of War: Military Power, State, and Society in Egypt and Israel

Synopsis

What determines the strategies by which a state mobilizes resources for war? And does war preparation strengthen or weaken the state in relation to society? In addressing these questions, Michael Barnett develops a novel theoretical framework that traces the connection between war preparation and changes in state-society relations, and applies that framework to Egypt from 1952 to 1977 and Israel from 1948 through 1977. Confronting the Costs of War addresses major issues in international relations, comparative politics, and Middle Eastern studies.

Excerpt

Although warfare and the state have marched in tandem throughout history, they marched separately in the social science literature. Indeed, although war is credited with producing such major events as the rise of capitalism, the emergence of representative institutions, and the establishment of the modern administrative state, most sustained investigations of state power overlook the important role of international conflict. There is a discrepancy between the demonstrated effects of war on statesociety relations and the theoretical attention it has received.

This study attempts to redress that disparity; it offers a theoretical framework for examining the relationship between war preparation (the government's mobilization of men, money, and material resources for external security) and state power and then applies that framework to the cases of Israel and Egypt. Two questions are asked here. First, what are the determinants of the government's war preparation strategies? To address this question, the state must be situated in its domestic and international context. For some time now the field of international political economy has moved in this direction; most studies now acknowledge that the state's foreign economic policy depends on both its position in the international system and its relationship to societal forces. Security studies, however, seem wedded to a conception of the state that responds exclusively to systemic demands and is absolved from domestic constraints and imperatives. Yet it is not true that the moment a foreign threat surfaces societal constraints vanish, and the only challenge the government faces is foreign. Quite often state officials confront greater threats to their political survival from those very societal actors it expects to contribute to the war effort than it does from the foreign threat itself. This, I will show, was true for Israeli and Egyptian officials during periods of intense interstate conflict, officials routinely viewed as situated in a so-called strong state and theoretically resilient to societal pressures. Government officials must mobilize domestic resources to consolidate their international position and do so with care that these policies do not simultaneously weaken their political standing and undercut other highly valued domestic objectives. One of this book's principal objectives is to show how the government's security policy, particularly the basis of its military power—its access to the means of war, is shaped by its goals in and constraints from the domestic and international systems.

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