The author, a colonel in the Israeli Defense Forces, published the Hebrew version of this scathing critique in 1987. According to Wald, the Israeli Defense Force has been a flawed structure since its inception, and its weaknesses have grown over the years as it has become more bureaucratic, rewarding loyalty over innovation. He attributes much of the IDF's decline to an unquestioning search for absolute security. With such an unattainable goal in mind, Israeli commanders win battles at greater and greater cost, but Israel fails to enhance its real security. Much of Wald's incisive analysis probably holds true for any large bureaucracy; at times his standards seem impossibly high, and a casual reader might conclude that Israel had never acquitted itself well on the battlefield. The value of the book lies in questioning the myths that have grown up around the IDF and in raising fundamental questions of strategy. When the author occasionally spells out what should have been done, his answers are not always convincing.
Get the best of Foreign Affairs' book reviews delivered to you.