Perspectives on the Study of Comparative Military Doctrines

by Arnold L. Horelick


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A conference paper discussing the diversity of current political-military doctrines. Seldom is strategic doctrine systematically articulated or formally codified, and the most vital issues are kept ambiguous. The objective of deterring nuclear war is in many ways inimical to war-fighting capability. No state today can insure itself and its allies against all plausible threats; those with the most alliances are the hardest-pressed for coherent doctrine. A nation's domestic history influences its perception of threat, as do national style, circumstances, and powerful leaders. Among the doctrines today, Israel's is unique in being a nonnuclear war-fighting capability, and also because of its flexibility and dynamism. Israeli victories demonstrate the soundness of Israeli doctrine; but the nonoccurrence of nuclear war offers no proof that the deterrence strategies used are sound and effective. Since deterrence can only be judged by its failure, let us pray it will never be put to the test. (To be published in a 1974 book, [Comparative Defense Policy].)

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