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Comparative Grand StrategyA Framework and Cases$
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Thierry Balzacq, Peter Dombrowski, and Simon Reich

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198840848

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198840848.001.0001

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(p.217) 10 Israel
Comparative Grand Strategy

Eitan Shamir

Oxford University Press

A traditional approach views grand strategy as primarily concerned with a state’s external affairs: consolidating national security by employing a combination of state capabilities that utilize economic, diplomatic, and military power instruments. Israel’s founders, in contrast, stressed the importance of internal factors such as legitimacy, social cohesion, and economic disparity as essential conditions for national survival. Bearing these benchmark features in mind, Israel’s varied, enduring challenges continue to raise the dilemma of what constitutes both the theoretical and practical boundaries of the country’s grand strategy. Indeed, an examination of the country’s strategic blueprint reveals a constant ambivalence—between focusing on domestic issues and the urgent need to respond to security and diplomatic challenges. The continuous definition and redefinition of what comprises grand strategy reflect the various forces in play in shaping the country’s strategic choices, in the context of an environment where these three founding considerations are continually challenged.

Keywords:   Israel’s national security, Israel Defense Forces IDF, David Ben Gurion, Iran’s nuclear program, Arab Israeli wars, Palestine

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