Perilous Prospects: The Peace Process and the Arab-Israeli Military Balance
By Anthony H. Cordesman
Westview, 1996, 304 pp.
Between War and Peace: Dilemmas of Israeli Security
Edited by Efraim Karsh
Frank Cass, 1996, 298 pp.
Cordesman is the bulldog of military analysts of the Middle East. He wrestles each scenario to the ground, chews on it, declares victory, then moves on indefatigably to the next. This tenacious performance is accompanied by a blizzard of tables, lists of names and facts, a welter of footnotes, and a good measure of sensible analysis. For example, in his judgment, the Arab-Israeli conventional military balance is fairly stable, but Israel can still be threatened by terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. Venturing a bit afield from his military analysis, he concludes that a demilitarized Palestinian state could be the key to a lasting peace settlement.
Karsh's edited volume bears little resemblance to Cordesman's. It opens with a blast at Israeli revisionist historians who have allegedly not taken Israeli security concerns to heart. Next on the list of those who endanger peace in the Middle East are those who call on Israel to give up its nuclear weapons. Thereafter a variety of authors tackle aspects of Israel's security problems that would persist even after a peace settlement is reached. Much of this has merit, but the editor sets an unnecessarily polemical tone at the outset. One might almost imagine that some American president had decided to focus on nonproliferation as an issue and to put the spotlight on Israel.