Israel's Death Hierarchy: Casualty Aversion in a Militarized Democracy

Israel's Death Hierarchy: Casualty Aversion in a Militarized Democracy

Israel's Death Hierarchy: Casualty Aversion in a Militarized Democracy

Israel's Death Hierarchy: Casualty Aversion in a Militarized Democracy

Synopsis

Yagil Levy's The Death Hierarchy is a superb analysis of the relationship between the changing social structure in Israel, the makeup of its military, and the resulting strategic posture. It is unique in that it explores these relationships through the analysis of the social and economic characteristics of the casualties in Israel's limited conflicts with the Palestinians and with Lebanon. It also blends sociological and political theories of civil-military relations in a manner that is insightful and thought-provoking. Anyone who is interested in societal-military relations and in Israeli society and politics should put this book on top of their reading list.

Excerpt

Wayne E. Lee

The Warfare and Culture series seeks the connections between a society’s beliefs and values and the ways in which its military forces express those in their operations. in short, how does culture affect operations, battle, strategy, planning, doctrine formation, and more? in the modern world, few aspects of a society are more significant to military planning and operations than its perception of the meaning of casualties—casualties inflicted and casualties suffered often define success or failure. Political scientists have explored this issued extensively under the rubric of “casualty sensitivity.” Yagil Levy’s Israel’s Death Hierarchy is rooted in that literature but also applies historical and cultural methodologies to explore how Israeli social and cultural fluctuations from the 1950s through the recent Gaza incursion of 2009 (Operation Cast Lead) have changed not only the composition of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) but also, consequently, the meaning of casualties within their society. This altered sensitivity has in turn changed the style and tempo of idf operations. Israel’s Death Hierarchy provides a complex and nuanced reevaluation of how a democratic state balances its obligations to its citizens and its soldiers and makes an important interdisciplinary contribution to our understanding of the relationship between modern warfare and culture.

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