Deterrence Beyond the State: The Israeli Experience

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48 Citations (Scopus)


Israel’s experience with deterrence is unique: it is older, more diverse, and more experimental than that of any other state. How did Israel’s strategy of deterrence evolve? How was it adapted to fit the non-state threat? And what is its utility? This article argues that Israel’s experience with deterrence beyond the state can best be understood through the conceptual lenses provided by the other grand deterrence debate, that in the philosophy of law, not international relations. Israel’s use of military force against non-state enemies doesn’t fit the classic concepts of strategy: it is not just one act of force to compel one actor to fulfill one specific political goal at one given time; deterrence consists of a series of acts of force to create — and maintain — general norms of behavior for many political actors over an extended period of time. Using force, consequently, doesn’t represent a principal failure of deterrence but its maintenance through swift, certain, but measured responses. The inquiry concludes by identifying the method’s limitations.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-147
Number of pages24
JournalContemporary Security Policy
Issue number1
Early online date13 Apr 2012
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2012


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