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Thoughts on the role of the military

Reader comment on item: Explaining Israel's Timid Security Establishment

Submitted by Dave (United States), Jun 28, 2020 at 19:48

There are many good reasons why the civilian branch of the government must have total control of the military: it's the democratic way since the military was not elected, the military is primarily made up of engineers who lack the intellectual depth needed for longer term strategy, and more subtly, those tasked with sacrificing their lives for their country may instinctively avoid the risks involved. That's not to slight the bravery of the soldiers, but no sane person would willingly place themselves in a situation of mortal danger. That's why good soldiers are conditioned by rigorous training to obey orders implicitly. It's simply a sad fact of military life that it's necessary to sacrifice the few to save the many. National survival depends on it.
Israel is a democracy made up of large numbers of highly educated people, many of whom have a background from countries where Jews were historically mistreated, so they often developed a mistrust of authority. It is therefore hardly surprising that the obedience required by a thoroughly disciplined military could be somewhat challenging. Directing the Israeli military must be a little like herding cats. I've even read that it's acceptable for rank-and-file soldiers to voice differing opinions.

Ultimately, whipping a military into shape is the responsibility of the elected government, so any shortcomings regarding strategy or failures to achieve victory must rest with them.

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