Perilous Prospects: The Peace Process and the Arab-Israeli Military Balance

Perilous Prospects: The Peace Process and the Arab-Israeli Military Balance

Perilous Prospects: The Peace Process and the Arab-Israeli Military Balance

Perilous Prospects: The Peace Process and the Arab-Israeli Military Balance

Synopsis

Anthony Cordesman provides an account of the military and security concerns arising out of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin.

Excerpt

The security and stability of Egypt, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, the Palestinians, and Syria are shaped by many factors. These include the economic and demographic trends in the region, domestic politics, internal security, and the peace process. Nevertheless, the Arab-Israeli military balance still shapes much of the security situation in the Middle East.

The peace process has not put an end to military threats or the regional arms race. Israel's peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan have led to only limited cuts in military forces, and Israel is still negotiating with Syria and Lebanon. Even the best outcome of the peace process will still be "peace with violence," and it may often be difficult to tell the difference between the "Cold War" that preceded the Oslo Agreements and the "Cold Peace" that has followed. There will be many incidents of violence between Israelis and Palestinians before the final stages of a peace settlement are agreed upon and fully implemented and "peace" may sometimes escalate to low-intensity warfare.

Even if all the current peace negotiations are successful, it is likely to be a decade or more before Israel and its neighbors achieve a major reduction in their war fighting potential. Fundamental changes in the military balance--and the risks it poses for further war--will require fundamental shifts in the present security polices of the nations in the region, major reductions in future military spending, and a process of confidence building measures and arms control to reduce the potential destructiveness of any future conflict. Peace may even increase some aspects of the regional arms race, at least in the short run, as nations attempt to adapt their force postures to the new demands of peace. This may be particularly true of Israel, which may have to make significant military investments to compensate for the loss of the Golan and territory in the West Bank.

It is also dangerous to assume that there is anything inevitable about the success of the peace process. While it is an axiom that "all wars must end," history is equally consistent in warning that "all peaces fail." Israeli political support for the peace process is uncertain and Israeli public opinion is becoming increasingly polarized. Yitzak Rabin was assassinated by an Israeli extremist in an effort to end . . .

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