Nostalgia Makes Bad Military Policy

You can’t help liking Major General (Res.) Emanuel Sakal–even when you think his vision of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is totally skewed. At this week’s conference on The Decline of Citizen Armies in Democratic States (see my post on Wednesday), he offered a list of reasons why an all-volunteer army would be the end of the IDF. Some of the reasons were good, many were laughable, and none of them were backed up by facts.

Sakal, with his sun-wrinkled face and sharp gaze, is a paragon of Israeli republican virtue–he’s a man who devoted his life to his country’s defense and now, in his old age, gives his people the benefit of his experience and wisdom from his perch as a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar-Ilan University.

The problem is that he acquired his wisdom decades ago and hasn’t bothered to update it. Sakal’s still caught in the “trust me” attitude all too common in the IDF, in which rank and battle scars are taken to be better indicators of reliability than empirical evidence.

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