Shimshoni and Levite offer a fresh look at the transformation of warfare, focusing on its evolution from post-Westphalian struggle predominantly taking place between opposing military organizations into society centric confrontations. They submit that all contemporary opponents of the West have made the social dimension central to warfare, de facto pursuing society-centric strategies even when they apply traditional force. They argue that several Western states currently similarly engage in such warfare, but without fully admitting as much or effectively adjusting their strategies, doctrines and force structures. Building on their recent expose in Survival of the theoretical and historical underpinnings of this phenomenon, the authors turn to the rich and varied Israeli warfighting experience for additional insights into the nature and dynamics of contemporary societycentric confrontation.
In this paper the authors examine the societal warfare phenomenon in four Arab-Israeli cases: Ben Gurion’s formulation of Israel’s foundational grand strategy and doctrine; the Egyptian-Israeli War of Attrition; Israel’s ongoing confrontation with Hamas; and with Hezbollah these past two decades. They conclude with observations on factors that tend to escalate and increase the undesired societization of warfare, discussing critical implications for the study and practice of strategy.